A Cinephile’s Sins of the Fathers or Let’s Put on a Show!

Even the first career I dreamed about began with a movie–Jaws. I wanted to be a shark expert. Later, I wanted to be Ray Harryhausen. That began with Clash of the Titans (and King Kong, which I saw around the same time). I wanted to make stuff like the Kraken, not only the stop-motion scenes, but the haunting underwater shots. (Watching Godzilla (2014) I couldn’t help but think there was a little tribute to the underwater Kraken sequence.)

Over the years and I decided I wanted to be more like Tom Savini. Then a sort of Savini/Romero hybrid, an effects artist and director. I saw some old family Super-8 films (including one with my dad crying in a dress, but that’s another story) and loved the idea that I could make a movie.

I drew storyboards and watched a ton of movies. I got a VHS camcorder one Christmas and I tried to make stop-motion films. I made a few shorts, but found the editing process exhausting and the product unsatisfying. I couldn’t figure out why my handheld VHS short, with no lighting or sound equipment, didn’t look like Predator.

Around the same time, friends started playing music, but people always seemed to need a bass player. I liked the sound of bass on records, so I ventured into that. Even though I had no idea what tuning was–I tuned strings to what I liked and then awkwardly learned off of records and the radio–I eventually fell into playing in bands.

Only recently, after listening to a few film podcasts and hearing directors like Sean Baker talk about just going for it with the tools available on a phone, I decided to take on some digital filmmaking projects. I’m learning so much in the process of taking an idea from paper to screen. It’s done purely for the love of it. And right now, these are like art projects to do with the kids. Every now and then I have been able to assist friend’s on their films and it’s always been fun.

We’ve been working for months on our next video, not necessarily because our vision demands it, it’s more because of a lack of time (very little) and budget (none). The kids are writing new material for some hand puppet designs, too.

The films below were written by the kids and they shot the backgrounds and built the puppets.

I’m hoping that they continue to enjoy making these. I’m also hoping that it encourages them to have the stamina to complete ideas they have. And also, that they try to focus, whenever possible, on something they love and to not let the technology get the best of them.

Episode 1 was written by my seven-year-old. Episode 2 was written by my five-year-old. Enjoy!

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