HIT FILM "3 KEYS" OPENS DOORS FOR ART INSTRUCTOR

Written by Travis Souders - January 31, 2019

Chico State Today

Josh Funk with Puppet - Photo by  Jessica Bartlett/University Photographer

Cradling his newborn son, Josh Funk found himself entranced by the colors dancing on the wall.

Splatters of refracted light, streaming from a prism—a gift for his baby boy—fluttered and hopped about the room as sunshine glanced across the trinket. The images wriggled their way into Funk’s exhausted consciousness, where they would soon manifest as illuminated floating fairies in his award-winning short film, 3 Keys.

As both an educator and a filmmaker, Funk has made a career out of trying to capture those flashes of light—to harness inspiration when he sees it, and to make the most of it. He hopes to drive his students to do the same. 

Deriving purpose from passion has been a form of art in itself for Funk, a lecturer in the art and art history department at Chico State. He teaches three digital media courses within the subject of animation and illustration.

Funk (Art Studio, ’07) has nurtured an affinity for the arts since childhood, but he fell in love with teaching 10 years after he completed his undergraduate work—and the timing couldn’t have been better. Unsure of his life’s direction as he neared completion on his first short film, “The Spaceman,” he was asked to fill in for a former instructor, Nanette Wylde, who was going on sabbatical. He immediately found that teaching called to him, as he saw an opportunity to relate his own young filmmaker’s perspective to students interested in the art and the industry. After Wylde’s retirement last year, Funk stayed on as a lecturer.

“Teaching at Chico State makes me a better artist, a more empathetic person, and closer to my community,” he said. “It forces me to not only keep up technically, but to also reevaluate what was effective or not during my time as a student.”

Now, having captured a cache of film festival awards for 3 Keys—Best Digital Effects at HorrorHaus, second place for Judges’ Choice and Best Animation at Shortz!, Most Original Concept at Videoscream, a Gold Award for Best Horror Film at the Mindfield Film Festival, and the Award of Excellence for Film Short in the Best Shorts International Film Competition—Funk can relay his journey to film success to his students.

“Everything I learned happened after I graduated, so I am able to come from the approach of, ‘I wish I had known this sooner,’” Funk explained. “I would have wanted to know more about real-world problems for artists, how to make money, how to promote yourself, and mostly how to find what you’re passionate about and turn it into something that can sustain you.”

Drawing upon inspiration, he said, is the easy part. It’s identifying where it comes from that can be difficult, and it is that skill he wishes to impart above all else. He takes a grand view of his muses, also considering their own influences to understand what specifically he enjoys about a certain aspect of an art style or technique.

Josh Funk with Marionette Puppet - Photo by  Jessica Bartlett/University Photographer


Ever an ’80s kid, Funk cherishes the nostalgia of films like GremlinsBeetlejuice, and, later, The Nightmare Before Christmas—unsettling yet still charming in their animation styles, mixing puppets and marionettes with live actors or simply bringing the inanimate to life. He remembers being simultaneously “fascinated—and traumatized—by Chucky” after seeing the murderous doll on an Entertainment Tonight clip. His eyes light up when 3 Keys’ style is mentioned in the same conversation as Tim Burton (an obvious Funk favorite, along with Jim Henson) or Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, a masterpiece of surreal animation in its own right.

Whether it was Muppet-inspired delight or porcelain doll-inflicted terror, it struck Funk as immediately important to hold on to those feelings of fascination—and to keep them alive for as long as he could. Staying true to his passion enabled Funk’s vision to come to life on film, said 3 Keys co-producer and director of photography Joe Batt. 

“He really had a clear vision of what he was going to do with it, and the sets really showed it,” said Batt, a longtime friend of Funk’s. “He’s so detail-oriented—there are a ton of tiny little touches in the film that you don’t really notice at first, but they add up in how the whole thing feels. And that’s all based on the vision that he had from the beginning.”

In the 15-minute film, a young woman experiences recurring nightmares, as described to a psychiatrist. Each features a mysterious door and three keys that unlock different scenes, each memorably haunting in its own right.

Funk wants to continue to hone his skills and keep using “old-school” animation styles. He is concurrently attending online graduate school at Lesley University, based in Massachusetts, and expects to earn his master’s in fine arts by 2020. He wants to keep making films, striving to one day produce a feature-length project, and he also sees himself teaching for years to come.

The key, Funk said, will always be catching those moments of inspiration when they appear.

“I want to keep making films, and I want them to be more personal and less influenced by what’s popular than what I believe in,” he said. “And the same goes for my teaching. I want to help people find their authentic voice and direction—once you find that, doors open up for you.” 

Art show reflects 'Shared Visions' between adults, children

By Lindsay Holbrook, Correspondent

Chico Enterprise Record

POSTED: 07/29/17, 4:43 PM PDT

Josh Funk’s stop-motion film “Toy Box” brings to life action figures his 2-year-old son plays with.

Josh Funk’s stop-motion film “Toy Box” brings to life action figures his 2-year-old son plays with.

What does it mean to have a shared vision? Most would think it is just as it sounds. 

People often see things through their own point of view but it is only when these visions are expressed with others that people can share what they see and feel through the world of art.

“Shared Visions,” a new art show at the Chico Art Center, is taking this idea and melding it between both adults and children. 

It is an exhibit where both children and adults come together to express their art in more than just a visual manner. 

“The concept of shared visions is to connect adult artists with children and to play off of and be inspired by the creativity that children innately possess,” Erin Lizardo, the show’s curator, said. “By including children in the process of making art, we are validating that creativity and exploring an opportunity for connection that is often overlooked.”

Lizardo is a Chico artist and musician. She will be bringing her two sons Solomon and Moses to show how new perspectives can be brought through collaboration and working together.

Last year, she shared an art show with her son, Solomon Sarcona, at the Great Northern Coffee and Gallery.

For “Shared Visions,” her two boys will be making textile masks that reflect their zombie and monster drawings.

With the intuition of a mother and an artist and the open-minded creativity of two boys, something special is bound to be made.

Another Chico artist at the show will be animation movie director and writer Josh Funk and his 2-year-old son, Jonah. 

“I decided to create a short film where his decisions in choosing broken action figures determined what and how I would animate the rest of the film,” he said. “Using stop motion animation, I brought his creations to life.” 

Funk is a Chico State University fine arts alumnus. A couple of years ago, he created a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help make his stop-motion film, “The Spaceman.”

He was able to surpass his original goal amount on Kickstarter and built the puppets and set by hand. He also helped Chico band Severance Package make a music video (https://youtu.be/5leMJH_n6zA).

For the art show, he made a stop-motion film, “Toy Box,” starring his 2-year-old son playing with the action figures which comes to life in the film.

The film will be played Aug. 11 at the Chico Art Center. 

For more on Josh Funk, go to www.joshfunk.com.

“Shared Visions” runs Aug. 4-25 with an artists reception, 5-7 p.m., Aug. 11.

A “Free Family Art Day,” will be held, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Aug. 12, with hands-on activities such as workshops and craft tables.

For more information, go to www.chicoartcenter.com or call 895-8726.

KZFR Interview - April 21st, 2017 with DJ SANJAY

KZFR Zombies

An interview with Josh Funk and Dana Hocking about the new iPhone / Android game KZFR ZOMBIES. Chico, CA has been taken over by zombies and they hate great radio. Battle through downtown Chico, 1 mile, and the KZFR station to save our town! You can even listen to KZFR while you play!

Download the FREE App now for your apple or Android Device.