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.” 


(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.

Local filmmaker to Premiere Latest Creation


“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.”

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

2017 DEVO Awards


2017 Devo Award.jpg

By Jason Cassidy 

This article was published on 12.28.17.

Best artistJosh Funk. The local musician-turned-filmmaker makes some of the most time-consuming art possible: stop-motion animation. In 2017, his projects included a sweet video featuring his young son interacting with animated toys created for the Chico Art Center’s kid/adult collaborative art show, Shared Visions, in August, and a music video for “Scissors Gonna Cut Ya,” a rockin’ earworm by local garage punks Severance Package. The music video is by far the most impressive piece of local art I saw all year, with a meticulously edited animated scene featuring characters that look like living, rocking paper dolls.

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.


Josh Funk Wins Award

On September 18th, Film Director and Animator Josh Funk won Best Brief Film: Judges Choice at Shortz! Film Festival. The award was given for Funk’s vibrant stop-motion music video ‘Diggin’ On’ created for the band Michelin Embers. 

‘Diggin’ On’ features stop-motion puppets, 3D printed and found objects, as well as live-footage of the band playing on a miniature drive-in movie screen. The music video was a collaboration between Funk, the band, and inspired by the album artwork of artist Rickie Barnett.

“This award was very unexpected and I’m thrilled to be a part of this years Shortz! Film Festival. I’m even more excited for the opportunity to share the music of Michelin Embers,” said Funk.

The Shortz! Film Festival is an annual international short film festival, which showcases the best and brightest short films from around the globe, with many traveling to see their films at the historic El Rey Theatre in downtown Chico each year. 

Watch the video now!





Josh Funk Wins Best of Festival Award at Sundial Film Festival with 'The Spaceman'

Josh Funk and his brother Jordan Funk with awards for The Spaceman.

Josh Funk and his brother Jordan Funk with awards for The Spaceman.

On March 5th, film director Josh Funk won top honors at the 2016 Sundial Film Festival with Best of Festival and Best Narrative Film awards. The awards were given for Funk’s imaginative sci-fi short film The Spaceman, created with giant cardboard sets, stop-motion puppets, and old school techniques.


The Spaceman features an exceptional use of practical effects including stop-motion animation, miniatures, animatronics, and elaborate sets made of cardboard. The film stars Funk’s brother Jordan Funk, who builds a cardboard spaceship, travels to an alien planet, and fights a stop-motion monster. This black and white short was filmed in the Northern California locations of Chico, Forest Ranch, and Fern Canyon.

“I am so honored to be a part of the Sundial Film Festival and to take home these film awards. It’s surreal to see how this small Kickstarter funded sci-fi film has grown to reach so many people,” said Funk.

Organized and presented by the Active 20-30 Club of Redding Foundation, The Sundial Film Festival, in its 8th year, showcases the talent and diversity of filmmakers and photographers at the beautifully restored Cascade Theater in Redding, California.

All entries were judged for creativity, quality, and originality by a diverse jury comprised of independent filmmakers, critics, and educators in the film industry. Proceeds from the event went towards serving the Redding community's greatest asset –local children.

Get Animated

Two local filmmakers launch animation fest

By —Esmeralda Ramirez

This article was published on 12.10.15.

Josh Funk

For artists, theater actors and musicians, Chico is a pretty wide open art town, with fun venues and an established support network in place. But for filmmakers—an arts niche that has been growing steadily locally over the past decade or so—there have been very few outlets. Other than the annual Shortz! Film Festival—which celebrated its fifth year of showcasing short films this past September—and the occasional screening at the Pageant Theatre, there are only sporadic opportunities for showing off locally made films.

This Saturday, Dec. 12, at the El Rey Theatre, Chico will take at least one more step toward building up the film scene with the debut of Animation Chico, an international animated short-film festival created by two local filmmakers, Shawn Dyer and Josh Funk.

“There are a lot of filmmakers around here and they’re all looking for a place to show their work and most of them go to either Redding or Sacramento because there’s nothing in their town to support them,” said Dyer.

The two grew up in Chico and have been friends since high school. Dyer, a co-founder of the Shortz! festival and creator of last spring’s Ha! Fest comedy film festival at the El Rey, has been making and showing his original full-length and short films for nearly a decade. Funk, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to the scene, having moved from making music in local bands to creating his own stop-motion animated films since 2012.

“The main reason behind [Animation Chico] is actually to bring more people from other markets to Chico,” Dyer said.

The duo started accepting festival entries mid-summer, and received 71 submissions from around the world over the course of three months. They settled on 36 shorts in a variety of animation styles—traditional, computer-animated, stop-motion, even 3-D—that will be spread among four roughly one-hour blocks during the festival.

Naturally, especially for Funk, another goal of Animation Chico is to shed light on the art of animation.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand all of the different forms of animation that are out there and also don’t understand the amount of time that goes into making these,” he said.

Chico State has a large and celebrated animation program, and Funk pointed out that a lot of those students go on to work on big blockbuster movies, but many locals aren’t aware of all that talent. And though they didn’t get any entries from the university this year, the hope is that Animation Chico can be a showcase for student works in the future.

For the inaugural event, viewers can expect a wide variety of films from many different countries, Funk said, including a six-minute piece directed by French animator Gilles-Alexandre Deschaud titled “Chase Me,” which was produced using 2,500 pieces created on a 3-D printer. Other countries represented include China, Brazil, Thailand, Canada, Hungary and Israel.

“A lot of the content that we’ve received is wonderful, from perspectives other than the average American perspective and you’d be surprised what people come up with outside the U.S.,” Dyer said.

“A lot of times with animation, there are no words, which is kind of nice that it translates all over the world,” Funk added. “You can say a lot with just body movements of a character.”

For its awards, the festival is divided into three categories of animated films: student, international and stop-motion, and a $150 prize will go to the winner in each category. For the jury, Funk and Dyer brought in three artists: animator and Chico State instructor Mark Pullyblank, local graphic designer/comic artist Aye Jay Morano and animator Clayt Ratzlaff.

Also on the program (but not eligible for the competition) is the world premiere of Funk’s stop-motion music video for local band the Michelin Embers’ song “Diggin’ On,” which will be followed by a three-song performance by the band.


Art at the Matador marks 5th year Friday and Saturday

by Linda Watkins-Bennett

Click to see interview

Click to see interview

The 5th Annual Art at the Matador Motel kicks off Friday, May 8th at the Matador Motel on the Esplanade in Chico.

75 artists will convert 14 rooms into imaginative art galleries ... transforming them ... and there will also be more than 20 booths outdoors. Friday you'll find hand mixed margaritas, jazz music and fire dancing from 4 - 9 p.m. and Saturday May 9th the event continues for families from 2-9 p.m. There will be food and all types of entertainment, and arts and crafts for youngsters, souvenir penny stamping, and a cantina.

The featured up and coming artist this year is Josh Funk, a film maker and stop motion animator. His exhibit will include the puppets featured in his films "Wormholes" and "The Spaceman". And he also has a stop motion animation station for people to try their hand at the intricate, time consuming art.

For More information visit the Art at the Matador event facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ArtFiestaAtTheMatador?fref=ts.

Source: http://www.actionnewsnow.com/news/art-at-t...