I started production on BROKEN on November 19, 2012 and for the past 8 years I’ve been working on my little library of short films. Having no particular agenda or timetable has its benefits but the one thing that has always been a challenge is finding an audience. Festivals and awards can raise your profile to a degree but let’s face it, you can’t do it alone. So when the opportunity presented itself to have FILTH added to the short film platform run by ALTER I jumped at the chance. Deputing on Friday the 13th no less I am understandably curious and excited to see the response to my little horror show now that it has been introduced to a much wider audience.

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Those hard days when progress felt glacial seem very far away now. As I start work on the final set I can’t help but recall everything that I’ve made for this film and shake my head. The evidence is all around me as I trip and stumble around my crowded work space. I’ve accumulated boxes and boxes of props, set pieces and just all out junk and can honestly say I am counting down the days to when I can finally purge myself it all.


I think I’ve taken the violence in stop motion as far as I intend to. That’s not to say FROM HELL HE RIDES is some kind of blood bath because it’s not. FILTH holds that honour but FILTH was over the top which helped take some of the edge off whereas FROM HELL HE RIDES is not. It’s played straight … which has me thinking about the future and what I might do next. While I have made no concrete decisions I can say there is something on my mind.


Back in December 2019 I did a shot of one of my guys entering the Sheriff’s office. As I was putting the exterior of the set together I thought to myself, “…what did I do with that door?” I’ve made a lot of doors this past year and they all have a slightly different pattern so it was kind of important that this particular door match from one shot to the next. Those little bits of continuity are incredibly important if you’re trying to make something at least half way professional. I did find the door. It had been repainted several times for use on other sets but was still in good shape. A quick touch up and up it went. I love the idea that a year will separate those 2 shots in the final film.


The rest of the cast has been retired and the last two puppets are about to meet in the centre of town. It reads nice but creating their final standoff will be something of an endurance test. I will need a number of buildings to do this scene justice but on the plus side the level of detail will be nothing like the previous three sets (or so I hope) As always it starts with an empty table.


As a stop motion animator there’s nothing worse than being midway through a shot and slowly realizing that the puppet feels wrong. So was the case late Sunday night when, about half way through a routine shot, the leg of one of my puppets seemed to be getting loose. As I struggled to continue the leg went from loose to useless and I eventually had to abandon the shot to see what was going on. Turns out the weld in the hip had given way. You expect certain faults to occur from time to time but this break was particularly difficult to fix without inflicting some major damage to the puppet. This is mainly because my puppets are entirely foam rubber and replacing armature parts is a lot trickier than if you’re working with a foam and fabric puppet. I can’t just undress them. As it was I needed to cut the puppet nearly in half in order to access and replace the defective part. His long coat, which has made animating a living hell from frame one, now helps to conceal the scares of my work which I take as a small victory. He’s back on the set now, ready to go and his hip fells marvelous.


I’m animating again. Scene 11 runs about 2 minutes give or take a few seconds so I’m hoping to have it done by mid-December. Of course I’ve already added 2 shots so that time frame is fluid. Action scenes are tricky to storyboard. There are a lot of quick cuts and until you see the characters in motion it’s hard to know just how long each shot will be or if you’ll need to add more to make the action clear. Hence the 2 additional shots thus far. In some cases we’re talking cuts that last less than a second. I learned a lot from FILTH when it comes to editing action scenes. It’s amazing how much information an audience can absorb in just a fraction of a second.


Sets like this require a lot of detail. After days spent building staircase spindles, picture frames, door knobs, liquor bottles, chairs, tables and countless other bits and pieces it felt like very little progress was being made. Quit often though there comes a moment when you start to assemble all those little bits and the set suddenly comes alive. It’s hard to know when that moment will arrive but it’s easy to spot when it does and let me tell you … it’s a great feeling.


I’ve started work on the interior of the saloon. I expect it to take 2 to 3 weeks although that time frame may be a little optimistic. I’ll be honest I’ve hit something of a wall. This film has been ridiculously complicated when it comes to the sets and as much as I am incredibly pleased with how the entire film is coming together, it’s been a struggle this past week working up the enthusiasm for yet another build. The fact that the massive, 100+ shot climax of the film waits for me on the other side of this scene does little to lighten the mood. These moments happen at some point on just about every project and are neither unique nor unexpected. It’s like the athlete who’s lost their scoring touch; you need to keep working and sooner or later the goals will come.


Another two weeks of intense work. I’ve been burning through Scene 10 and hope to have it completed in the next couple of days. I’ve also retired a third puppet which makes half the cast. This set allows me easy access to the puppets which is a welcome change. Beyond this scene are a couple of quick turnaround throwaway set pieces before I attack the last major interior; inside Whistler’s Saloon. I can see about 4 more months of animating before I reach the end which means the temperature in my little workshop will start to drop before too long.