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HIGH NOON

Two and a half years is a long time, especially this past two and half years. And yet it has gone by in something of a blur here in my little workshop. I can remember just about everything about the creation of FROM HELL HE RIDES, from its humble beginnings to the exhausting finish, by far the most challenging film I’ve ever attempted. So without further adieu I present … FROM HELL HE RIDES.

PLASTER

It may not be the most exciting part of the process but the first mold for DRAIN is done and it’s lovely. This is a typical 2 piece mold using Ultracal 30 plaster. While the new film may have a simpler story it still has five characters and, being who I am, I will spend as much time on the minor characters as I do on the major ones. Between the sculpting, the molding and the building of the skeletons, I expect it will be 6 months before I’m ready to cast the puppets in foam rubber.

METHOD

I recently came across an interview with Steve Johnson, a special effects make-up artist who trained under Rick Baker in the 80’s. He relates a story about sculpting the monsters for Poltergeist 2, about how he used to spend a lot of time working slowly and meticulously, making sure all his work was symmetrical and perfect. H.R. Giger, the man who designed the ALIEN and on whose designs Poltergeist 2’s creatures are based on, told him he shouldn’t think so much when he sculpts, that he should just get it all down as fast as you could. Johnson now swears by this method. Far be it from me to disagree with H.R. Giger so I’m giving it a go.

SPEAKING PARTS

I’ve never used replacement animation in my films; specifically for dialogue and/or facial expressions. I’ve always outfitted my puppets with moving parts inside the head so I could animate those things but I’ve decided to give replacement mouths a shot. I sculpted these freehand in a couple of hours so I will definitely need to shoot some tests to see how well they line up.

MUSIC TO THE EARS

After a much needed break I have started IT CAME FROM BEYOND THE DRAIN down the production road beginning with the storyboards. Since storyboards are not a very interesting topic I thought I’d talk about something else; music. It usually takes 2 to 3 months to record the final score for my films but don’t let that fool you; I work on the music during the entire production. Music has an enormous impact on any film’s final presentation but its creation is often ignored because this is such a visual medium. Be that as it may, I want to shine just a little light on this work. I’ve posted the entire score to FILTH and plan to do the same with FROM HELL HE RIDES in the near future so I invite you to listen loud.

RAY

Back in 2004 I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Harryhausen. He was on a promotional tour for his book An Animated Life and I was lucky enough to know some of the people associated with the event. He spoke for a bit then took audience questions. I watched as he signed copies of his book and graciously answered everyone’s questions. As the room was emptying I was able to talk with Ray for about 15 minutes. I asked if he was enjoying his retirement, did he ever miss animating, what he thought of modern films. I told him about how his work had inspired me to attempt my own animations. He jokingly said he probably saved me from becoming a delinquent. I guess he didn’t see FILTH in my future. This image may be blurry and the lighting suspect but when I look at it I think, that’s me shaking the hand of the man responsible for all those amazing images.

A SINGLE FESTIVAL SCREENING

FROM HELL HE RIDES will have its world premiere at this year’s edition of the MONTREAL STOP MOTION FESTIVAL. I decided after I completed the film to forgo the festival circuit but I made an exception in this case, mainly because it’s one of the only festivals out there exclusively dedicated to stop motion film making. The festival will be an on-line event running Sept. 10 – 19. The screening date is still to be determined.

SLEEP MODE

I haven’t been doing much on the new film lately. 9 years of constant work has finally caught up to me. I’ve been spending my days catching up on a lot of reading, watching some movies and just plain relaxing. Maybe it’s the warm weather, maybe it’s the weight of another production but whatever the reason, I’m taking some time to recharge. IT CAME FROM BEYOND THE DRAIN will be waiting for me when the time is right.