This paper stop-motion animated music video was created for the band Severance Package and their song "Scissors Gonna Cut Ya". It was created by filming the band and dancers, printing at 12 fps, cutting them out and compositing in the computer. Additional stop-motion animation of my hand, scissors, and scraps of paper were used, along with paper sets and a 3D printed retro TV. See the behind the scenes images below:
Once again, I had the pleasure of working with the talented puppet maker Richard Whillock. This time he helped me create a stop-motion puppet as well as an identical rod-puppet so I can film in real time with the actress during some important shots. Check out the puppet photos below.
Steve Martin wanted to be a magician and became the most famous comedian in the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to be the greatest bodybuilder who ever lived and became a movie star and governor. If you read enough biographies on successful people you will see a common thread that connects them all; they knew when to change their path.
I bought my first guitar in the sixth grade and by the time I was twelve I was playing Green Day and Weezer songs in front of my entire Junior High school. I was sure I had found my calling and it was to become a rock star. Fifteen years later I sounded and played better than ever but could no longer find the creative energy to pick the guitar up. This instrument that once brought me so much joy now sat in its case for months at a time until inspiration would find me… but eventually, inspiration stopped coming back.
I silently gave up on this dream in 2010 but didn’t realize it until two years later. There was no more enjoyment, there were no more songs in me, and although this may sound sad, it was a big sigh of relief. To fill the creative void I did something I’d always wanted to do and decided to create a stop-motion short film in my spare time. Wormholes became my new obsession. I spent every week for one-year building models, puppets, and learning how to animate in what used to be my home music studio. I mostly kept this to myself because I didn’t know how to explain it to my friends but it was incredibly fun. As I worked, memories started flooding back of my childhood and the hours I spent making films with my parent’s camcorder and my action figures. It felt like I had come home.
I decided to release Wormholes online and the feedback I received was far greater than anything I’d done in music. I think it was because I created it for the right reasons. It was simply made for fun and made for me. Over the next few years as I transitioned into becoming a filmmaker and animator, I saw many parallels with my experiences in music. It became evident that my failure at my first dream wasn’t a failure at all, but instead training and education.
With music I learned how to create flyers for my bands and spent years testing out different ways of promoting our shows. I learned how to create websites, logos, and CD covers, and work with printing presses. I figured out how to create buttons, and vinyl banners for our merch tables, and how to get interviews from the local papers and radio stations. My pursuits in music gave me the courage to approach venues about playing shows, and send my albums out to be reviewed.
I learned about the not so fun stuff like contracts and lawyers, copyright laws, and the disgusting habit of namedropping. I learned that every time I chased a trend, I would fail but when I created music or art that made me happy there was no downside. I learned that I’m not special and everyone in this world is capable of being great at something so I should not compare myself to others.
I learned that collaboration is extremely important and giving credit to those who contribute will lead to better work then doing everything on my own. I studied and observed everything with the music industry from the way a chord progression brought out emotions to how a band advertised their latest album. I learned to dissect why something worked and why it didn’t. When I decided to become a filmmaker, all of these lessons transferred over.
The title of this post is misleading because I didn’t give up on my dreams at all. I simply altered them based on my experiences and interests. I’m not the same as that twelve year old who first sang in front of an audience and I’m glad. I’ve evolved into someone else. Music is still a big part of my life and I enjoy composing for my movies, playing the guitar and piano in my spare time, and listening to what others are putting out into the world but I’m so thankful I gave up my dream because it made way for the new one and that’s just starting.
Let’s pretend you’ve already lived your entire life and as you came to the end, you had the chance to live it again. How would you spend each day? What would you do differently? This kind of fantasy rattled around in my brain during restless nights and miserable days working in retail.
For years I knew I needed to change the direction my life was going and I found myself eight years into a profession that did not represent my goals, talents, and strengths. It seemed that the longer I stayed, the harder it became to leave and as more time passed, my confidence in fulfilling my dreams diminished. My dream was to be creative for a living.
One year ago today, with either courage or perhaps pure ignorance, I left being comfortable for the unknown. I could clearly visualize in my mind what life would be like if I didn’t try… I was already living it. I had the support of my wife (even with a baby on the way) and had enough experience to know where to start. After all, I went to school to study art and there wasn’t a valid enough excuse to give up before ever trying.
This is a summary of what I experienced in my first year as a full-time freelance artist and if you stumbled upon this because you want to change where you are in life, just remember I also google searched, “Should I quit my day job?” before starting my journey.
WHAT DID I ACCOMPLISH?
My plan was to make a living as an illustrator and take on graphic design projects on the side. I created a clear business plan and set out to make it happen but soon had to change course when the universe started pulling me in a different direction… filmmaking and animation.
At the time I left my day job, I was just finishing my second film, a black and white sci-fi short called The Spaceman. With a stop-motion animated monster as the villain, this Kickstarter funded project ended up opening all kinds of unexpected doors for me. I entered it in many film festivals and competitions, which resulted in winning 4 awards. It was seen by thousands of people around the world and has so far screened in California, Utah, New York, & Australia. Through this experience I was able to connect with other filmmakers and movie lovers and to better recognize my strengths and weaknesses.
Years ago, a friend taught me how to write press releases and by following his advice The Spaceman was featured in multiple regional newspaper articles including the Chico Enterprise Record, Chico News & Review, & the Orion. I appeared on two TV news shows, a podcast, did multiple radio interviews, and images from my film were used in a Videomaker Magazine article on Stop-Motion animation techniques. The movie was also featured on the websites Film Pulse, best-horror-movies, & sci-fi bloggers.
As traction grew for The Spaceman it also drew attention to my first animated short, Wormholes that ended up playing to over 700 people at Keeping Chico Weird. There were two people at this show who ended up hiring me to animate music videos. Other unexpected opportunities happened when I was asked to speak to classrooms at Butte College, Chico State University, and give a talk at the Museum of Northern California Art’s pop up event. These appearances led to getting the Art at the Matador Scholarship Room, where I showed my work to the public in a historic Chico, CA motel.
In between all of these events I worked on over 40 graphic design jobs including clients such as The University of Alabama, Georgia Southern University, and Innovate NorthState. I created a Kickstarter video for a clothing company, and an officially licensed Star Wars apparel teaser for DesignByHumans. Near the end of the year, a lot of my time shifted towards stop-motion animation including work in a feature horror film called Dolly Deadly, music videos for Norwegian songwriter Annie Woodward, and the band Michelin Embers.
WHAT DID I LEARN?
1. Charge What You Are Worth
I made many mistakes this year and I’d have to say my biggest is not charging what I’m worth. I was so fearful that I wouldn’t have any work that I ended up short changing myself. This was my most fulfilling and successful year and yet this year brought in one of the lowest incomes in my working life. Still, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I have a better understanding now of what my time is worth.
2. Plant Seeds
There were three months this year when I felt like a complete failure because either the money wasn’t coming in, or the projects were drying up. I made sure to spend those slow days updating my website, working on personal projects, and being thankful for what I’d already accomplished so far. I noticed the more I put myself out into the world, the more opportunities trickled in. Occasionally, I would meet with a potential client assuming our project wasn’t going to work out, but months later would hear back from them with the green light to start working. I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be creating in 2016 and this should scare me but as long as I put in the work and do my best something will always be around the corner.
3. Enjoy your work
Finally, you must enjoy your work, not the money, accolades, or success. The work must come first. If you’ve found something you love, make an honest commitment to it, and enjoy every moment. Set a specific time every day where you put away your phone and distractions and just go for it. You will be happiest and do your best work when you let yourself enjoy it.
On November 15th, 2014 I said my goodbyes and tried to never look back. These last twelve months have become pivotal for me as an artist and a person. I understand there is a long way to go but I am now dedicating myself full time to achieving it.
Here is a behind the scenes look of the drill being held by a rig. The drill was made from a steampunk eyepiece, airdry clay, and painted foam core. I later deleted the rig to make it appear like it was floating above the ground. These scenes were fun because I also animated dirt by pushing it around with my fingers.
This is the inside view of a hole that the drill was digging. It was created by gluing torn pieces of textured, packaging cardboard together. I then added some lights and filmed the set against green screen.
Here is a screen shot after the puppet was animated and composited in. This puppet was based on the illustrations of Rick Barnett who also created their album cover. The video will be online sometime next month. Keep checking back for updates.
I'm really excited to share these behind the scenes photos of my latest project for the band Michelin Embers. The guys asked me to create a stop-motion music video for their song "Diggin' On" that will also incorporate footage of the band playing.
The puppet was based on the illustrations of Rick Barnett who also created their album cover. It was made with a metal armature and clay head and the clothing was created with the help of artist Aryn Fisher. The backdrop was painted on a 10 foot piece of paper.
The vehicle is made from wood, metal, 3D printed parts, and found objects.
In the opening shot of the music video, we will start underground and come up to the surface before meeting the puppet. Here is a photo of me and artist Heather Bennett designing the underground layers using pieces of cardboard. I later 3D printed dinosaur bones and glued them on the surface.
Keep checking back for more behind the scenes photos.
I am in my fifth month of making a living in the Arts. Each month seems to bring more opportunities and creative challenges. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated and on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
In my final days working in a retail job I felt stuck in, I started doubting that my decision to leave was wise. In fact, I knew it wasn’t wise but I was miserable enough to take a risk and quit. As I tried to fall asleep those last few nights I would imagine the different ways in which this decision could turn out:
1. MY DREAM SCENARIO: I would be able to be fully immersed in my passionate, personal work mostly involving illustrating children’s books, or filming and animating my own movies.
2. NOT WHAT I WAS EXPECTING BUT I’LL TAKE IT: I would be able to scrape by doing small creative jobs such as graphic design for local businesses and have no time for all the fun personal projects. At least I would be out of a retail job I hated and doing creative work.
3. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE: I would fail. Nobody would hire me or find value in what I could offer and I would lose my house, having to go crawling back to a steady paying yet unfulfilling job.
I am telling you this because by taking calculated risks that are true to who you want to be (not who you currently are), working every day to meet your goals, and being flexible with the opportunities that come up, you will eventually find success. I have not reached my destination exactly but the version of me that existed five months ago never expected such a fun, fulfilling journey.
WHAT HAPPENED IN MARCH…
March was a big month for me both personally and professionally. My son Jonah was born and it changed my life overnight. Knowing that I have someone to take care of is so motivating to keep working and improving in everything I do.
I continued animating a dream sequence for the horror film Dolly Deadly involving an audience of twisted dolls cheering the main character on, and also created a monster T-shirt, and illustrated print for The Spaceman Kickstarter backers.
I was given the opportunity to display my two films along with stop-motion puppets and miniatures for the MONCA (Museum of Northern California Art) Gallery in Chico, CA. The puppets and films played for the whole month and I gave an artist talk to an encouraging audience with excellent questions.
Exposure from The MONCA gallery helped me book additional talks for April speaking to 3 Butte College Film Classes, my picture was in the local paper, and I was offered the Art at the Matador Scholarship Room in May to display my work to 4,000 expected guests.
The smaller graphic design jobs have started to become steady, and more people are asking for quotes on video production and stop-motion animation projects. I am actually at a place where I have to turn work away.
So far I’d say things are somewhere in-between “My Dream Scenario” & “Not What I was Expecting.” I’ll take it.
I am so happy to finally release THE SPACEMAN to the world. This short, sci-fi movie is about a man who builds a cardboard spaceship and travels to a distant planet to dispose of a mysterious object.
Most of the movie was made with cardboard, miniatures, stop-motion animation, puppets, and animatronics. It was filmed in Chico, Fern Canyon, and Forest Ranch, CA.
Here are a few photos from todays shoot with photographer Brenden Price. My brother Jordan Funk and I had fun today taking photos with all of the sets and props used on our upcoming film The Spaceman. We wanted to document everything before it was torn down. We had a cardboard, spaceship wall with components drawn with sharpy pens, a miniature forest set, a cardboard bazooka, styrofoam planet, puppets, tentacles, spaceships and more.
Here are some behind the scenes photos from yesterday's animation of my movie The Spaceman. I have about 7 more shots to animate in order to finish my movie. In this shot I needed to show the alien monster puppet clinging to a tree and then jumping down. It took me a few attempts to get exactly what I wanted but I'm very satisfied.
To hold him up, I used an old adjustable projector rig that a friend gave me. If you are an animator, look around thrift stores and garage sales for things that are already tailor-made for your projects. You'll be surprised what you can find. It's a lot cheaper, can save you time, and give you better results.
I attached wire through the projector rig to securely hold him in place. This rig has worked out well for jumping shots but is too bulky for some sets. When using rigs it is important to take a photo of the background without your puppet and rig in it so you can later delete the structures holding your puppet up.
My stop-motion software of choice is Dragonframe. It's very affordable and gives you many options for excellent animations.
I had a great time tonight at the 1078 Gallery in Chico, CA! It was an honor to be asked to show my stop-motion animated films Wormholes, The Spaceman Trailer, and display the puppets and sets from my films.
I met so many great people and fans of Stop-motion animation. My favorite part was seeing how fascinated the kids were. It reminded me of being a kid and watching those great holiday stop-motion movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
I'll have to do more shows like this!
CHICO, CALIF. December 5th, 2014
Josh Funk, an independent film director, today announced the release of the trailer for his latest short film, The Spaceman, a Kickstarter funded, black & white, stop-motion & live-action sci-fi adventure. The Spaceman is about a man who creates a cardboard spaceship and ventures to an alien planet to dispose of a mysterious object. This new trailer showcases Funk’s unique ability to combine practical effects such as stop-motion, miniatures, and animatronics with both darkness and reverence to childlike imagination.
This is a departure from Funk’s previous short animated film Wormholes that was created entirely through stop-motion animation. “The Spaceman is a film dedicated to traditional effects and a return to my days as a kid when my friends and I could build anything with just cardboard and our imaginations,” said Funk.
The Spaceman was successfully funded through Kickstarter in May of 2014 after having already completed the first half of the film. The 10-minute short used giant cardboard sets, a miniature forest made from PVC pipes, a miniature spaceship, and stop-motion puppets funded by Kickstarter backers. Northern California locations included Chico, Forest Ranch, and Fern Canyon. The Spaceman will have its online release in February of 2015.
The trailer for The Spaceman can be viewed at:
To see Funk’s previous film Wormholes, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQR7Iady5xQ
About Josh Funk
Josh Funk is a multi-talented, self-taught, and independent director and artist hailing from the city of Chico in the depths of Northern California. Funk’s credits include the stop-motion animated short- Wormholes (2013) and the Instructional Graphic Novel Sinful: A Graphic Novel (2009). For more information on Josh Funk, please visit: www.joshfunk.com.
I spent a couple of hours today testing out the new puppet made by Richard Whillock and I came up with a couple successful quick shots to splice in-between the action we recently filmed in Forest Ranch, CA. This new puppet has more options for angry expressive attack motions and he is fitting in quite nicely with the rest of the movie. I'm looking forward to seeing what else he can do.
The Spaceman finally has a beginning, middle, and end filmed but there is still a lot of animation to go.
On October 4th we filmed the last shots of Jordan in Forest Ranch, CA including some truly awesome looking shots with a cardboard bazooka. I’m excited to say that he only has one-day left of filming and it’s with green screen and animatronic tentacles. Jordan will finally be able to shave that beard that’s been itchy… It’ll be my Christmas present to him.
I commissioned puppet maker Richard Whillock to create a second, angrier version of the alien monster for the second half of the fight scene and he did not disappoint. I am blown away by his ability to take my ideas and elevate them.
MINIATURE LAUNCH BAY
I built and filmed a miniature launch bay out of some unusually cool pieces of cardboard I found. It’s a quick shot, but an important one.
SOUND DESIGN & MUSIC
I created sound design for the beginning of the movie and started toying with ideas on the piano for the score.
I put together some shots of the spaceship landing and Jordan walking out of the ship. I feel like this added a TON to the story and made everything much more believable… as far as cardboard spaceship movies go.
The best part about being a big brother is torturing your younger brother. I made Jordan pose for some stop-motion animation shots. He says this was worse than having to fall on pinecones in Forest Ranch. You’re welcome Jordan… you’re welcome.
Coming up Next:
- Filming the Animatronic Tentacle
- Animating with the puppets in the miniature forest set
- Green Screen jumping and punching in slow motion
- Animating Cardboard Suit
- Filming backgrounds in Forest Ranch for composites