Thursday, March 05, 2015

John Ikuma's Stop Motion Underground!

This is going to be a great post, thanks to John Ikuma. It's got everything; video YT content creator action, delicious show and tell reveals, dramatic suspenseful set-ups, and kaapow payoffs below. A Link Laden Lollapalooza...

The amazing and generous, writer/editor/animator, John Ikuma, dropped a new episode of Stop Motion Magazine's web series, In The Shadows of Light today!! I was stunned. He gave an entire episode to Halfland! Wildly fantastic to have! How great is it to see where things were 4.5 years ago and to know what's happened since he came to meet me at the loft, in September of 2010, to shoot some footage for his ambitious feature on LA's underground Stop Motion renaissance.

The day John came by and shot was the first time anyone had thought enough of what I was doing to give it a showcase like that. (I *think* I may have Tennessee Reed Norton to thank for tipping John off about 1/2L? If so, T. Reed, Thank you!) And after shooting that day, John said that what I was doing would be "worth a documentary all on its own" which was the first time anyone in the field had regarded the project as anything remarkable. His saying that was like a bomb going off in my being. It meant so much, especially at that time, and started me thinking more of what I was doing myself. It may have been one of the first moments in time that I began to have confidence in my abilities and ideas.

So, you see, it was a big deal here. And seeing the recording this much later for the first time I was amazed at how much of what I hold dear in terms of the project's philosophy and approach was worked out. I keep thinking of the points raised in John's film as 'brand new' thoughts all the time. Things like allegory, folktale, computers as personal creative tools, all being done within the means available, without concern for doing things correctly, etc.

And here, for those who may be interested, are how a few of the things discussed in the film were ultimately realized since then and a few of the people that came up as well:::

Nelson Lowry who taught me how to build molds and cast puppets and who encouraged me as Halfland was just beginning to be thought of.  He's now a very big deal in the Stop Motion world and lending his talents as Supervising Production Designer for LAIKA in Portland. Thank you for being my friend when I most needed it, Nelson.

Julie Taymor is the Great Artist who no less than saved my life with her creativity being showcased on the New York Times magazine's cover in 1992. I asked her, "Where can I go to learn to do what you do." She handed the phone to Micheal.  She gave me myself by demonstrating how to be oneself.

Michael Curry who was, in 1993, Julie's invaluable Technical and Creative Co-Director and an enormous influence and encouragement to me personally. (You may have been wowed by Michael's work for years without necessarily realizing it was his genius at work. Most recently the giant roaring lion Katy Perry rode at the big game's halftime (heh) show was recognizably his mastery at work. I knew it instantly!) Michael is the important person who invited me to "make my own project." after he'd relented to my constant pleads and allowed me inside my first-ever workshop for theatrical production (Oedipus) and unleashed the entire creative universe before my eyes. If it wasn't for Micheal and Julie, goodness knows how my life might have gone. Thank you, Michael.

More of Nick Hilligoss' fabulous stop motion puppetry work.

Dick Kaneshiro did come over and soldier the bug party lantern lights! And has his Lunch Box and monitor for shooting the film on loan here! Thank you, Dick!

Mariah, one of the pretty little girls who want to help in Halfland.

Peggy Fussell actually making those 7-foot cardboard trees.

How the Mothman silk and wire wings mentioned were actually finished! Beautiful!

Those fancy pants watch hands I talked about! And...

How they looked on the Time Frog's eye when they were finished!

What the paper clockwork gears look like up close with a few time flies, raw and then through the transparent frog belly.

How the main cottage porch shown was completed with the help of an architect!!
What the main set's interior looks like:

See what new bugs have RSVPzzzzzzd to the Bug Party since filming and how the finished party set looks close up including the band! Plus Lots more bug pupps. I LOVE making them.

Above you can see how the paper teacups for the bug cafe were constructed.

The entire project was moved nearly three years ago (!) into a more normal-sized apartment. It's been an adjustment and took a long time to re-jigger into, make new plans for how to handle the opening and closing shots, etc. I had to destroy a lot of the previous set pieces and sky in order to move due to the reduction in space and I became ill for nearly two years afterward, but by God, it is reborn and so am I. Thank you, God, I am well.

Halfland volunteer, artist Christine Kuper, helped me build the new sky in Halflnd's new (much smaller) workspace. She also helped me paint the night sky landscape onto half of the new paper backdrop once it was all finished. (She hasn't been by lately though.... She and Mano had their long-awaited first child just one year ago!! Praise be!)

The larger mouse puppet and his set has been completely finished. And the small version of him, with the teensy pair of glasses, can be seen lower right.

The main character of the series, Rana the Goat Woman puppet has been built with the technique described in the film except now I use an elastic glue as the medium for the mache instead of latex. and her costume is being IS now finished over the next two days. It's a wow. Can't wait to show you.
Ready to begin shooting... Am now a subscriber to Adobe's Creative Cloud and therefore have the latest versions of After Effects and Premiere---Let's go! Thank you, John! xoxoooxoxo


  1. Anonymous1:53 PM

    What a fabulous documentary! Halfland is such a fantastic idea/project/labour of love. Every detail is interesting-times-ten. It's wonderful to see how it all continues to evolve. Sending lots of love!

    1. Thanks, Peggy! Your interest means the world.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Yuji! You are like the project's guardian angel.

  3. Hi Shelley!
    Thank you for your email, I enjoyed the documentary very much. I am glad you were able to use the watch parts, I had forgotten I sent them. The frog is genius!!! All of Halfland is genius!
    I hope you are well and happy,
    holler if you need anything!

    1. Yes, thanks, Marcie, 1/2L official Naturalist! All is well here. I am still being very careful with food and rest. Speaking of that, off I go>>>>

  4. Hey hey hey.... Shelley I am soooo great to see this documentary. I do know you from the time when we first met online but seeing you and Halfland here in this film is like magic. You are such a beautiful artist and so does Halfland. Your soul is reflected upon every little tinny detail in the set. Thanks for being there.

  5. Thank you so much, Yaz!!! Thank you for your kind words. Much love to you.


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