On Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th of April I premiered my short fantasy/thriller short film 3 Keys at The Museum of Northern California Art along with puppets and props from the film, a short behind the scenes video, and a Q&A with the other artists, actors, and contributors who made this film possible. The event exceeded my expectations and our opening night required all the extra chairs that the museum had. We even had fun handing out free skeleton keys as people came in (my wife's great idea).
Watching the film in front of an audience for the first time was nerve wracking but they reacted exactly how I would have hoped. An unexpected outcome was the eagerness of certain audience members to try and solve a puzzle that is a main component of the film. This lead to great conversations, and varying theories...however, I'm keeping the true answer a secret (you'll have to see the film to understand this puzzle).
My films are very sculptural and so I displayed as many of the puppets and props as I could but unfortunately some didn't survive production. Many of the questions from the audience evolved around the process of stop-motion animation and the visual effects as well as a specific in camera visual effect that shows Brigette Funk falling into a dream.
Here are some photos from the 2 day premiere:
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.
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:
A few years ago I heard about a Kickstarter project looking to fund a horror movie called Dolly Deadly. The movie was to be in the style of the classic Troma films; very disturbing, lots of blood, and lots of fun. I had seen Director Heidi Moore's previous short films and decided to contribute to the campaign.
Lucky for me, she contacted me the next day because she had seen my previous stop-motion short film Wormholes and wanted me to be involved in adding some classic stop-motion effects to her film. Over the next few years I animated doll parts, guts, eyeballs, and a scarecrow. The movie is now touring the country and being distributed through Legless Corpse Films.
Check out the video below to see some of my stop-motion highlights from the movie:
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.
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 am in my 12th month making a living in the Arts. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated, on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
August and September left me feeling overwhelmed, and overworked. I realized I hadn’t posted in far too long so this will have to cover the last two months. I’m sorry for the delay but here we go…
Internal and External Struggles
August and September left me doubting myself for the first time all year. I brought in the least amount of money due to long term projects that pay out when finished, had to wait on slow payments from the University systems, and a few clients decided to take their time sending those checks. On top of that, unexpected car repairs came up, and I caught a cold for a week.
Despite these setbacks I have been working very hard. Having a month where I struggled financially was the kind of kick in the ass I needed. It helped me understand how I need to prepare in the future.
In a way I feel like the more I accomplish and the closer I get to achieve my goals, the more my internal resistance tries to hold me back. I found myself on multiple occasions thinking how ridiculous it was for me to leave a steady job to make art out of puppets (it sounds even worse when I type it). However, I am being true to myself, I am working every day, and people are taking notice of it.
I am so thankful that my film The Spaceman is still taking off and finding its audience. The puppets, sets, storyboards, and more were featured in the September issue of Videomaker Magazine. They have over 50,000 subscribers across North America and an amazing online following. It will be playing at the SciFi Festival in Australia on October 31st and screened last month at the Shortz Film Festival in Chico, CA. My participation in Shortz also brought in interviews from the Chico ER Newspaper, Weekend Showcase radio show, and KRCR TV.
In August I animated a short promotional video for Animation Chico, was hired to create a very stylized beating heart for Norwegian singer/songwriter Annie Woodward’s latest music video, and had a few great production shoots for the film The Last Foxhole which I am producing for director Joe Batt.
In September I finally made time to start writing the script for my next live-action film, found the actors, and started planning the budget.
My favorite moments over the last two months were spent working on the stop-motion music video for Michelin Embers, which required building a wagon, backdrops, and miniature bridges, a drive-in movie theatre, and more. I can’t wait to show everyone!
I’m finding that my graphic design work is getting smaller to make room for film projects but I’m still maintaining monthly retainers. In September I designed event flyers for The University of Alabama, Georgia Southern University, and Allegory Bellydance.
The End is Near…
Next Month will be my last post about my life after leaving my day job. I will recap the year’s highlights and explain the lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a self-employed artist. I’m not sure if anyone reads this but it really helps me process such a big decision and navigate through this crazy first year. Thank you for all your support!
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 ninth month of making a living in the Arts. The purpose of this blog is to keep myself motivated, on track and to provide knowledge for those looking to make a similar decision.
GOOD PROBLEMS TO HAVE
July quickly became my most stressful month yet but I kept reminding myself that this kind of stress is so much better than having the general public yell at me on a daily basis for things I can’t control. The cause of my stress came from my inability to say no to projects and for the first time in my career I overbooked.
In order to meet all of my deadlines I worked longer hours and created a production schedule from July through December to stay on track. I also decided not to take on any new work unless I can finish these early.
FINDING AND PROMOTING TALENT
My ultimate goal is to start an animation studio and I took the first big step in this direction last month by hiring two freelancers to help me build sets, and puppet clothing for a new Michelin Embers stop-motion music video. I love collaborating with talented artists with skills that I don’t have and thought this was a great opportunity to test out their talents. When you work with people who are passionate about what they do, it brings the production to a whole other level. I will post behind the scenes images from this video very soon.
I also finished editing the rough draft of the feature film Dolly Deadly, organized my upcoming animation festival Animation Chico and found most of our judges (I’ll be announcing them soon). I booked a small stop-motion animation job in a music video for director Morgan Barajas and continued to maintain my graphic design jobs on the side.
My short film The Spaceman was mentioned at best-horror-movies.com and won the Honorable Mention Award at the One Reeler Short Film Competition. It was also accepted in the Village of Brewster Film Festival (Brewster, NY) and will be screened there on September 5th.
There are only 3 more posts in this series and then I will write a yearly reflection of my jump into self-employment. If you have any questions, suggestions, or specific things you’d like me to talk about, write them in the comments below.
While making my short film The Spaceman it was my goal to use as many practical effects as possible from stop-motion animation and miniatures to animatronics and props. The movie required combining a very small stop-motion puppet with a live actor. In order to make these two seem like they existed in the same environment I used as many transitional effects as possible. For example: I would show the stop-motion monster puppet, cut to the live-actor in the woods, then cut to the big foam-latex tentacle interacting with the actor and repeat. I also created composite shots that showed both the puppet and actor together.
There were two tentacles used for the movie. Since my budget was running low and I didn’t have enough experience in making foam latex props of this size, I shopped around and found a great website called FrightProps. It was here that I found a tentacle that was already the size I needed.
The tentacle was beautifully painted and had suction cups along the bottom, but unfortunately it didn’t fit the look of the puppet. Upon more research I found that they also sold latex paint and so I painted black and white stripes on both tentacles. I cut the suction cups off one by one with an exacto knife and had to be careful not to show the damaged side while filming since the foam stuffing could be seen.
One tentacle was hollowed out and we used a 3D printed cable animatronics system inside. This took four people to run as we pulled the cables in varying directions to create realistic movement. The second tentacle was used to hit the actor and the ground without hurting him.
See the final film here:
I am in my fourth month of making a living in the Arts. February was largely consumed by the release of my new short film The Spaceman and a few graphic design jobs. I also set up animation and video production work for March. Here is an update of the things I’ve learned and accomplished since my last post. 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.
Always Have A Passion Project Going
Even if you don’t have a project that is paying you it is important to keep yourself busy and to always learn new skills. For the past two years I was creating my short film The Spaceman. I wish I could have dedicated every waking hour to it but I had to pay the bills. What was important was that I worked on it every day even if only for an hour.
In February I gave two interviews in local papers, a radio interview on KCHO’s Weekend Showcase, and my first ever Podcast interview. I then set up a 2-Day premiere at our local theatre where I showed both of my films, had puppets and miniatures from the movie on display, gave a Q&A with people involved in the movie, and even sold some DVDs and Posters.
Getting these interviews and setting up the premiere didn’t happen overnight. All of this was slowly being planned over the last year. Every time I had an idea for how I’d like this project to end, I would write it down on a task list and revisit it to make sure I stayed focused. I set the premiere up before I was finished with the movie to give myself a deadline.
Finally seeing people’s reactions and talking to them about their experience with the movie was so fun. Putting yourself out there to the world can be painful sometimes but it’s worth it when you reach an audience. There were a lot of kids at my movie and hearing them say “awesome” during the movie meant I accomplished what I wanted to.
Always Do Your Best
There are always going to be projects that you aren’t thrilled about. They might seem boring or a waste of your time. I’m finding that it is my responsibility to always do my best in these situations. All of these years of working on projects I wasn’t vested in, have allowed me to become better visually and in turn allowed me to apply everything I’ve learned into my own projects.
By always doing your best you will be more satisfied (even if you fail), you will create a good reputation, and get return clients. Some days your best might be better than other days. For example if you’re sick, or there was a tragedy in your life, you couldn’t possibly do as well as other days when everything was great…but you need to try.
Learn How To Be Present And How To Daydream
I’ve been reading a lot lately about how to always be present. What this means is to not walk around asleep. To notice the world around you and be aware of where you are and how you are feeling. If you want to be an artist or designer this is crucial. By being present you will notice how the colors look on the trees, or how the shadows react at different times of the day. You can learn an enormous amount by being present.
You’ve got to let yourself daydream. Some of my best ideas come from walking around not noticing the world or spacing out on the couch after a long day. Let your mind wander but understand how to bring it back and focus.
That was my February. If any of you have feedback on daydreaming, being present, or anything else you feel is relevant, please leave them in the comments below.
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.
Part 1 - Intro to the show.
Part 2 - 15 minute Interview
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