Josh Funk's "The Spaceman" utilizes miniatures, live action and puppets to illustrate new film
By Leila Rodriguez
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POSTED: 04/23/2014 10:13:54 AM PDT
Chico >> Behind a Chico home there is a shed concealing a spaceship, an adventurous astronaut, a bugged-eyed monster and a camera to capture the exchange.
All are ingredients dreamed up from director and writer Josh Funk and will be featured in the short film, "The Spaceman."
The Chico State University fine arts alumnus wants viewers to reminisce about their childhood of building forts or spaceships, he said. His film captures a youthful imagination running rampant, much like the experiences he shared with his siblings.
"'The Spaceman' is going to pay respect to the kinds of movies I loved as a kid like 'Star Wars' and 'Nightmare Before Christmas,'" Funk said in his Kickstarter video. "Movies that didn't rely on computer animation, but instead used real props, real sets — things you can actually pick up and touch."
Utilizing miniatures, puppets, cable animatronics and camera tricks, Funk will blend this dreamed-up animated world with live action.
The Spaceman is portrayed by Funk's younger brother, Jordan Funk.
Jordan Funk's character crafts a cardboard spaceship with hand drawn details of gears, gadgets and buttons and ventures to another planet to dispose of a mysterious object. While exploring, he encounters an alien and they battle.
"I'll kind of leave it up to viewer if he really does go (to space) or not," Funk said. "There's more going on in the story but I don't want to reveal that because it will give away the ending."
It's borderline campy, but the spaceman takes his responsibilities seriously, he said.
Funk's alien monster — blanked in a thick black fur coat equipped with long black and white striped tentacles — is a stop-motion puppet created by European puppeteer Richard Whillock.
Stop-motion is a puppet is slightly moved and the director will snap a photo of each movement to be later sequenced like a flip book and the gestures are fluid.
It takes 24 photos for every second of the movie, he said. A tedious process he enjoys. Think of Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" and the 1964 TV special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
"It's a really weird thing but it's so fun," Funk said. "It's kind of like magic. Something that is oblivious like a toy and you see it come to life — it's really weird."
A lot of techniques involving green screens will materialize the size difference of Funk's brother who is 6 feet tall and the tiny puppet.
"You have to make it convincing that the actor is fighting a monster who has to appear to be twice the size of the actor," Funk said.
"The Spaceman" will be Funk's second stop-motion film.
His first, "Wormholes," debuted last year. The three-minute movie took him about a year to complete.
Funk and his crew of 10 are currently in the middle of filming "The Spaceman."
There are a few action scenes yet to be filmed and a large scenic forest to animate the monster is Funk's next tasking enterprise.
He anticipates his second feature to be about 15 minutes long and take him two years to accomplish.
The director resorted to crowd sourcing website, Kickstarter.com to help raise funds to complete his movie.
Within four days of going live, Funk has already surpassed his goal of $2,500.
Any extra funds raised during the month-long campaign will help make the film that much better, he said.
The money earned will go toward extra set materials, props and entering the movie into film festivals.
As part of the Kickstarter gifts, Funk will allow the first person who fronts $1,000 to name the monster. Also if $6,000 is raised by May 17, Funk will host a private screening for those who donate $35 or more.
To donate to "The Spaceman" project visit http://tinyurl.com/lopo9cf.