Thursday, May 24, 2007

Concentrated Life

(updated a little:)
Justin and Shel, each with adorable babe in arms, show myself, Paul, and Micheal the latest clip from their wonderful film. (photo by Micheal Granberry)

I'm still down on couch time, but I couldn't wait any longer to report that last Sunday Paul and I, along with friend, Micheal Granberry, were invited over to the home of Justin Rasch, his wife, Shel Wagner Rasch, and their three wonderful children (unnamed here for their privacy). It was a total mind blower from beginning to end for every conceivable reason. They showed us all the puppets and pupps in progress for their current film. Justin even acted out the entire film for the assembled crew and did such a great job, I felt like I could see into his mind's eye how he wants to animate it. It's a winner. Everyone will love it and want more from these filmmakers.

I don't know where to begin to describe the devotion and strength these two have in their lives, and by extension, in their film projects. They are both preternaturally beautiful, fit, and athletic. They superhumanly manage multiple full-time jobs, not the least of which is the loving attentive care they provide all three of their kids. Justin and Shel are single-minded, energetic, disciplined, and determined to produce the best work possible in all things. Justin often begins his work day on the film after midnight, putting all normal slacker humans to shame!

Equally inspiring was the series of family nights we heard about that they hold each week. Family Art Night, where the entire family gathers around the kitchen table (or Art Center) and works on whatever they have going. Family Action Night, where they all gather in their supersonic fun action stunt house downstairs (which one has to slide down a fire pole through a trap door to enter by the way!) where bodies go flying over balls, rings, bungees, and trampolines, where people of all ages climb up walls and battle with jousting swords and take flying leaps. I found it a wildly catching energy vortex and spent the last few days recuperating as a result.) So much fun. And Family Movie Night, where they pile onto comfy sofas and watch something good all together. The young people in this home are all well mannered and polite, and yet completely free to express their talents creatively in any way they choose. Having these two for parents was a great plan! Paul and I want to install a tradition of Family Art Nights here too, just us two.

In thinking over what factors in to these incredible people being able to accomplish so much more than seems reasonable, I have to conclude that it is in part due to the partnership Justin and Shel share. It seems, at first glance, that every area where Justin could be spurred on to move forward in the production, Shel is right there pointing the most efficient way. And if Shel were tempted to be distracted by other important things, Justin's passion and drive are right there to fuel her forward on the project at hand.

Having someone that compliments your weak points and fills in the gaps of motivation and ability is such a valuable asset in these huge, long term projects. Paul is beyond supportive to me and I only have the chance to work on my project because he has created the space in our lives for that. But having an art partner who can also enter the nitty gritty of the thousand tasks it takes to make a stop motion film has got to be an invaluable boost. I'm going to buy Paul a block of Super Sculpey and see what happens!

They screened for us Suzie Templeton's Brilliant masterpiece, Peter and the Wolf (watch for your region). In the extras, she makes the observation that what makes stop motion so incredibly alive is that making it requires taking many full hours of intense work in order to create a mere moment of film. Concentrated life. I think that aptly describes stop motion and the people who make it.

Thank you for everything, Justin and Shel. You are awe inspiring.


  1. wow! they sound amazing! i especially like "family action night." :D

  2. Oh yeah! Gretchin you would LOVE it! It was like flying and gave such an intense workout without being able to realize you were doing anything but free play!

    And the bunchkins flying into parent's arms was sheer heaven!

  3. Thanks for the kind words Herself!!

    it was just as enjoyable for us....and thank you for shareing your time with us!


  4. Meant every word, Justin.

    Looking forward to another get together for sure!


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