By Leila Rodriguez, Correspondent / POSTED: 02/18/15, 8:53 PM PST
Chico >> “The Spaceman” by director and creator Josh Funk finally makes its landing on to the big screen in Chico this weekend. The short film debuts Saturday and Sunday at the Pageant Theatre, 351 E. Sixth St. After two years of hard work and creating a spaceship in his backyard shed, Funk has left his full-time job to fully commit to a career in the arts.
The premiere kicks off with a screening of “Wormholes,” Funk’s first stop-motion short film, followed by a two-minute behind-the-scenes short of “The Spaceman” and finally the showing of “The Spaceman.” A question-and-answer session with Funk and his crew will commence after the movie. The puppets used in the film will also be on display for guests to take a gander.
“The Spaceman” is a 12-minute, live-action, stop-motion adventure film starring Funk’s younger brother, Jordan, and a bug-eyed alien monster. The story follows an adventurous Spaceman who crafts a cardboard spaceship and ventures to another planet to dispose of a mysterious object. While exploring, he encounters an alien and they battle.
“I don’t want people to think too much about it,” Funk said. “I want people to have fun and smile and kind of think about being a kid again because of the cardboard spaceship idea. It’s not a comedy but it’s a ridiculous concept.”
It’s a campy movie tapping into a youthful imagination Funk and his brother fondly remember as children.
His project was partly funded from a Kickstarter, crowd sourcing campaign. Within a few days, Funk exceeded the Kickstarter goal allowing him to purchase another puppet with a slightly different expression, construct a large forest scene for the film and provide those generous folks who donated to Funk’s project some awesome rewards.
Funk was surprised by the benevolent outpouring and he said the majority of the donations materialized from locals. “When you start animating, there are hurdles and things you didn’t think about before,” Funk said. “So I had to rethink it on the second puppet. I was able to get everything I needed but because I had the money I wanted to make it as good as a I could.”
This was the first time the two brothers worked closely together aside from recording music. “There’s a big age difference between us,” Josh Funk said. “He’s nine years younger and growing up I was always playing in bands and he was always bugging us and now it’s kind of cool (Jordan’s) grown up and we’re working together. It’s fun.”
This was Jordan Funk’s first time acting and the novice actor said he enjoyed his time in front of the camera. Working with the green screen and fighting a miniature monster proposed some challenges for Jordan Funk.
“I had no dialogue in the entire film, so it’s all facial expressions and that was hard to do,” he said. Some voiceovers by Jordan Funk invite viewers into the character’s thoughts but aside from those bits, the film is driven by the scenes.
“It was a hard project to start off with right away because you have to convey a lot without saying anything” Josh Funk said. “It’s just him and a monster so he’s not talking to anyone or saying anything out loud. It’s a little different and a little harder acting because you have to say a lot with your face.”
The original concept of “The Spaceman” stemmed from a rough sketch Funk dreamed up a few years ago after Josh Funk’s first completed stop-motion film “Wormholes.”
In the span of two days, the Funk brothers filmed the first version of the entire movie. After they received extra funding from Kickstarter donations, Funk returned to his storyboard and expanded the movie including locations. The majority was filmed in Funk’s backyard shed with the exception of a few scenes shot in Forrest Ranch, Lindo Channel and Fern Canyon.
“In my head, it ended up where I wanted it to be,” Josh Funk said. “What I had envisioned originally ended up being better than I thought in certain areas.” The animation and special effects were a new territory for Funk and he said he had doubts at first.
“I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do some of that stuff,” he said. “I thought I was going to compromise on certain shots and eliminate them or do a version that wasn’t as good but we met everything I wanted to meet.”
With the film’s completion and the premiere approaching, the brothers reflect on the entire adventure with fond memories.
Jordan Funk has a particular stand-out memory: he also met his fiance on set. Brigette Enos was brought onto the Space team as an acting makeup artist for the Funk brothers’ Kickstarter video. During the course of filming, Enos stuck around lending her makeup skills to a few scenes and the two fell in love.
“So technically I don’t have to pay (Jordan),” Josh Funk said laughing. “I should have thought of that. So you owe me. I got you a wife.”