“3 Keys” makes its debut 7 p.m. Friday at the Museum of Northern California Art, 900 The Esplanade.contributed photo
By Leila Rodriguez, Chico Enterprise-Record
POSTED: 04/11/18, 4:31 PM PDT
Chico >> Independent Chico filmmaker Josh Funk earned his place as a stop-motion monster movie maker, and now his latest creation, “3 Keys,” taps into the supernatural, subconscious fears of dolls.
The spooky short film makes its debut 7 p.m. Friday at the Museum of Northern California Art, 900 The Esplanade, with themes appropriate for a Friday the 13th movie screening and may not be suitable for younger viewers.
“3 Keys” follows a patient (Brigette Funk) plagued by recurring nightmares that always start with a peculiar door and three skeleton keys. Depending on which key she uses to unlock the door, the patient is transported into an unfamiliar world, and she recounts her terrorizing dreams to a psychiatrist (Robert Donnelly) which offers viewers a maddening psychosis.
Stop-motion puppets, marionettes and miniatures bring this 15-minute spooky tale to life.
Puppets and props from the production will be on display at the screening along with brief behind-the-scenes footage so viewers can get a better idea of how Funk made the movie.
Concepts for the horror/fantasy film began shortly after Funk’s son was born three years ago.
The new father was eager to work on his next film and utilized the odd hours parenthood generously offers to work on his script.
As his little one grew, Funk began drawing inspiration from his toddler, like how a prism in his son’s room reflecting light became the inspiration for fairy creatures.
Beloved Muppet puppeteer, Jim Henson was a childhood favorite of Funk’s, but as a kid, he feared dolls and often had nightmares starring the stone-faced toys.
“I was very interested in how these inanimate objects could be brought to life to scare you or to entertain you, and that was kind of the basis for (‘3 Keys’),” Funk said.
For the last scene, Funk said he wanted to amp his frightful story, so he sat down with the star of the film, who is also his sister-in-law, to find out who or what spooked her the most as a child.
Brigette Funk told him of an eerie clown doll, and Funk had every detail re-created down to every last ruffle fashioned from a puppet maker in Prague.
This was also the first time Funk worked with marionettes.
“We constantly did re-shoots to make it scarier and scarier because if you’re not a talented puppeteer, it’s hard to bring something like it to life,” Funk said. “But we made it work.”
Working with family is common in Funk’s movie-making realm.
Funk made a short film featuring his son Jonah last year, and Funk’s younger brother starred in “The Spaceman” which won Best of Festival at The Sundial Film Festival.
The full-time artist has garnered countless film festival awards for other projects like his first short film “Wormholes,” and locally, Funk has lent his talents to creating stop-motion music videos for Chico bands Michelin Embers in “Diggin’ On” and Severance Package’s “Scissors Gonna Cut Ya.”
His creative playground in the world of animation and stop-motion holds no bounds and “3 Keys” is no exception.
“When you work on something so meticulous for so long you don’t even know what you have,” Funk said. “I’m excited to hear what people think and it’s nice to hear it was effective in the way that I wanted it to be effective.”