I had been grueling away at the small visual effects in my upcoming film 3 Keys when I was approached to participate in the Shared Visions Exhibition at Chico Art Center. I knew I shouldn't have said yes but the idea was so great - artists collaborating with children to inspire the community to be more creative with their kids. This would be an opportunity to work with my two year old son Jonah on something special that we can always look back on. It also fits in well with some of the themes I've been exploring in my films and illustrations. The catch... I'd only have 10 days to finish it. This kind of pressure was really a gift and has reenergized me to trust my creative instincts, push aside the "what if's" and just let things happen how they will happen.
First I created some very basic storyboards and developed a concept that used what I already had available in my studio. A big challenge was figuring out how to film Jonah efficiently and effectively so it was an enjoyable experience for him that allowed him to collaborate and contribute.
I created a small box full of old, broken action-figure pieces from my childhood. The box was full of colorful lights, and objects that I could later animate. I prepped all of the lighting and discreetly set up the camera, allowing me to capture his natural reaction to seeing these toys for the first time. I then had to direct him in order to get some connecting shots. Throughout the week we filmed four times in small sessions. I then took the action figures he was playing with, animated them, and built the story around it.
Some days I found myself grabbing anything I could find to cobble together a set. After collecting random objects, miniatures, pieces of plastic, and cardboard over the years it wasn't hard to do.
One of the final steps was composing music that felt like childlike wonder. I decided to use a toy music box, and two different ukuleles with digital instruments of a flute and clarinet to create the playful but sentimental score.
After many late nights and long days TOY BOX is now finished and will be premiering on August 11th at the Chico Art Center in Chico, CA. Until then, here are some behind the scenes photos.