(Chico, CA, August 12th 2018) Director and Animator Josh Funk’s short film 3 Keys has won 2nd Place: Judges Choice and Best Animation: Audience Choice at this year’s Shortz! Film Festival in Chico, CA.

3 KEYS is a fantasy/thriller set in the world of one woman's nightmares. In the office of a psychiatrist (Robert Donnelly), a patient (Brigette Funk) explains her reoccurring nightmares that always begin with a mysterious door and three different skeleton keys that unlock it. Accompanied by stop-motion puppets, marionettes, and miniatures, each nightmare is packed with practical effects.

Scary tale : Local animator’s new short film is the stuff of nightmares

By Howard Hardee 

This article was published on 04.05.18.


Josh Funk doesn’t want to contemplatethe number of hours he spent writing, producing and animating his new short fantasy film, 3 Keys. It took four months to create the puppets, animation and practical effects for a single scene, and his most ambitious project to date consumed most of his free time over the last three years.

“Counting the hours would just drive me crazy,” he said.

The local independent stop-motion animator makes his living by freelancing promotional videos, music videos and commercials for a variety of clients, and he works on personal projects like 3 Keys on the side. The roughly 15-minute film is the follow-up to Funk’s last major stop-motion project, Spaceman(2014).

Spaceman was about this guy who builds a cardboard spaceship, goes to an alien planet and fights a monster, but there was no dialogue,” Funk said. “It was almost like a silent black-and-white film. When I was making [3 Keys], I really wanted to push myself in every aspect. I wanted it to look better and sound better and I wanted to work with new people.”

The story starts with a psychiatrist (local actor Robert Donnelly) and his patient (Funk’s sister-in-law, Brigette Funk), who has recurring nightmares. The dreams always start in a dark and spooky basement, where she finds three keys in front of a mysterious door. There’s an element of Alice in Wonderland as each key transports her to a different place.

“So, there are three different dreams I’m showing throughout the film,” Funk said, “and they all involve puppetry of some kind and sets and visual effects.”

3 Keys is set to premiere at the Museum of Northern California Art April 13 and 14. The event will include a short behind-the-scenes video, a Q&A session with Funk and the cast, and a display of puppets, miniatures and props from the film. A host of actors, artists and Chico State students (Funk teaches a course on animation) donated their time and talent to bring the project to life.

Funk has submitted 3 Keys to about 20 film festivals and contests, and it already won an Award of Excellence in FilmFreeway’s prestigious Best Shorts Competition.

The film incorporates elements of horror and suspense drawn from Funk’s own childhood fears, but it’s not at all gory, and falls comfortably into the category of a fantasy/thriller. He started writing the script in 2015, working mostly late at night while watching his sleeping newborn son, Jonah.


“I was thinking of childhood so much, and I started thinking about how I used to be scared to death of dolls,” he said. “I saw a clip of Chucky [from Child’s Play] on Entertainment Tonight and it just traumatized me. … I still have recurring nightmares about Chucky.”

He also borrowed from fairy tales, in which doors often serve as symbolic thresholds, and repetition of the number three also bears significance. As with any fairy tale, 3 Keysconcludes with a moral. Without giving away the ending, it’ll suffice to say the protagonist’s nightmares are rooted in her waking life.

“The main character is someone who refuses to admit that they do anything wrong,” he said. “Until they can admit their own faults, they’re not getting out.”

 Keys premiere, two showings, Friday-Saturday, April 13-14, 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $5
Museum of Northern California Art
900 Esplanade

Artists transform The Matador

Chico Enterprise Record POSTED: 05/02/15, 5:06 PM PDT

    Filmaker Josh Funk will be the occupant of the ChiVVA Scholarship room. Funk will explain his use of stop-motion animation, sculpture, illustration and elaborate miniature sets at the Matador Hotel Friday and Saturday


Filmaker Josh Funk will be the occupant of the ChiVVA Scholarship room. Funk will explain his use of stop-motion animation, sculpture, illustration and elaborate miniature sets at the Matador Hotel Friday and Saturday

On Friday and Saturday, 75 artists will transform rooms and tents at The Matador into imaginative galleries. 

The Chico Visual Arts Alliance has organized this free and family-friendly festival with jazz, souvenir penny stamping, fire dancing, food, a cantina and scavenger hunt.

An array of local painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, fiber art and jewelry will be in the festival. Several of the artists, such as Cynthia Sexton, will be doing demonstrations.

Josh Funk is this year’s occupant of the ChiVAA “Scholarship Room.” Funk, a filmmaker and artist, received his B.A. in art from Chico State University in 2007. He’ll explain his use of stop-motion animation, sculpture and elaborate miniature sets in his dark, quirky fantasies.

“Through animation I am able to revisit themes I enjoyed as a child such as monsters, fairy tales, and building spaceships out of cardboard,” Funk said.

Music for Art at The Matador features “Jazz Satie” with singer Susan Schrader, “One Eared Mouse” with former Avenue 9 Guild Member Barbara Morris as a singer, as well as Flying Blind, the Bob Kirkland Trio and the Chico West African Dance & Drum Ensemble. 

Once it gets dark the Lumininjas will light up the night. For more information, visit www.ChiVAA.org . The event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The Matador in located at 1934 Esplanade in Chico.

A combined effort


POSTED: 03/27/15, 5:15 PM PDT 

The Museum of Northern California Art (monca) presented Art Connects with Technology, a current Pop-up at 215 Main Street through March 28. The Pop-up includes art from high school students, Idea Fab Lab and local artists who use some form of technology in their work. On March 14, Animator Josh Funk showed two of his animated films and described his art to an audience of over twenty people. Shown here with monca board member Claire Pelley (left), is Josh Funk (center) and visitor Arnie Rodriguez from the Bay Area.

Monster maker

Local musician Josh Funk trades in his guitar for stop-motion creatures

By Rachel Bush 

This article was published on 02.05.15.

Quitting a day job to dedicate more timeto one’s craft seems like nothing more than a dream to many artists, but for Chicoan Josh Funk, it is his new reality. Three months ago, he ditched a job selling cellphones for AT&T to focus on his art … and to play around with puppets.

The puppets are part of Funk’s latest artistic venture, stop-motion animation and filmmaking. For years, music has been Funk’s creative drug of choice. He played with Chico bands Spencer and Farewell Letter and also made a name for himself locally, releasing five CDs as a solo artist. But eventually, in 2012, the pull to create visual works beat out the need to write songs.

“I was doing solo album stuff for a while, but started phasing out. Stop-motion was something I always wanted to do. I bought an armature and worked on it every day after work.” Roughly a year and $1,500 later, he finished Wormholes, a surreal three-minute stop-motion short featuring a clay man being chased across colorfully strange dimensions by a Tim Burton-esque worm creature. The short was accepted into a couple of film festivals—in the UK and Austria—as well as Chico’s Shortz! Film Fest and last weekend’s Keep Chico Weird Talent Show. (You can now watch it on his website, www.joshfunk.com.)

And he’s just finished his second film, The Spaceman, a live-action meets stop-motion short that will premiere at the Pageant Theatre Feb. 21-22. The film features a young man who travels to an alien planet to dispose of a mysterious object, encountering a monster along the way.

Funk graduated from Chico State in 2007with a degree in electronic arts. He also does a lot of 2-D works (freelance illustration projects, graphic design and film editing are his main sources of income right now), and his website features many of his pieces, which range from trippy monster designs to illustrations for a graphic-novel collaboration with local magician Wayne Houchin. While both his electronic and arts experience translated to his film endeavors, he still needed a lot of training and practice. “I used a lot of YouTube tutorials and trial and error to figure stuff out, like special effects and compositing characters.” He also familiarized himself with the necessary design software—Aftereffects, DragonFrame animation, and Final Cut editing—to polish and finish his projects.

Inspired heavily by the works of Jim Henson and Tim Burton, Funk has difficulty pinpointing his signature aesthetic. “I’ve always tried to categorize my style as an artist, because it felt better for my brain, but it’s hard. I’m drawn to dark subject matters but keeping it fairly light and quirky.”

Dark but quirky is the perfect description of his Spaceman puppets, designed by Funk but crafted by UK puppet-maker Richard Whillock, whom Funk found via Etsy. The furry black-and-white-tentacled creatures have huge teeth and are creepy, yet cute. “Picking them up from the post office and finally seeing them was so cool. He knew exactly how I wanted them to look.”

To make The Spaceman, Funk relied heavily on borrowed equipment and support from friends and family, including his younger brother, Jordan, who stars. “I told him, ‘Pretend you’re Bruce Willis, but all the movie could afford was cardboard for sets.’”

Those cardboard sets are more impressive than they sound. Tucked away in Funk’s studio, the collection of props—some miniature and some full-size—are intricately handmade, including the spaceship that once took up the whole room.

The most alluring set is the 8-foot-tall miniature forest used for a puppet battle scene. Crafted from PVC pipes, insulated foam, fake moss and leaves, the lush landscape was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised $6,000 to help him finish making the film.

For the live-action portions, Funk and crew found woodsy spots to match the forested replica, including Bidwell Park, Forest Ranch and Fern Canyon outside Arcata.

With The Spaceman done, Funk looks forward to its release, and trying to get it into film festivals. He also admits that the transition to a career in art has been a good one. “What I’ve discovered is that making $100 doing something you love is so much better than making $500 doing something you hate. You just have to have faith that it’ll work out.”

On the set of his new film, The Spaceman, with Josh Funk and his monsters.


Screening of The Spaceman and Wormholes (followed by Q&A with director Josh Funk) Feb. 21, 1 p.m. & Feb. 22, 6 p.m., at the Pageant Theatre.
Cost: $5
Pageant Theatre
351 E. Sixth St.

Chico director ventures to space in new stop-motion movie

Josh Funk's "The Spaceman" utilizes miniatures, live action and puppets to illustrate new film

By Leila Rodriguez

lrodriguez@chicoer.com @leilarrodriguez on Twitter

POSTED:   04/23/2014 10:13:54 AM PDT

Josh Funk, a Chico director and writer, demonstrates how his puppet will be used in creating his live action and stop-motion film, "The Spaceman." (Leila Rodriguez —Enterprise-Record)

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.

Source: http://www.chicoer.com/entertainment/ci_25...