ANIMATION MAGAZINE: Review + VIDEO CLIP
"Think of that slipping-off-the-planet feeling you got at the end of Todd Haynes' Safe" - Animation World Magazine
"An eerie, wordless stunner. . ." - Richard von Busack, Metro News
"It's like Aardman goes film noir." - Bumpershoot, Seattle Weekly
"Could easily apply to the US these days and the culture of fear we both live in and created for ourselves. " - Chas of CHASbah, Florida Film Festival
"A wordless film that makes a powerful comment on contemporary society. Even for a short, it's a very brief film, but nonetheless breath-taking." - Philadelphia Film Festival Review 4/14/03
[ CANNES Film Festival Official Selection Cinefondation (2003) ][ STUDENT ACADEMY AWARD ~ NATIONAL FINALIST 2003/2004* ][ AFI FEST 2002 Audience Award- Best International Short Film + Jury Prize: Special Achievement in Animation ][ ANNECY Animation Film Festival (2003) ][ SXSW Film Festival (2003) ] [ OTTAWA Int'l Student Animation Festival (2003) ][ CINEQUEST (2003) Jury Prize- Best Animated Short ] [ Brooklyn Int'l Film Festival (2003) Best Animation ][ BUMPERSHOOT- One Reel Film Festival (2003) Best Animation ][ NY EXPO of Short Film and Video (2002) Best Debut- Animation ][ Deep Ellum Film Festival (2002) Best Animation ][ Santa Monica Film Festival (2003) Best Animation ][ Temecula Valley Int'l Film Festival (2003) Audience Award- Best Animated Short & Jury Prize- Best Animated Short ][ Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival (2003) Best Animated Short ][ SITGES Animation Festival (2003) *Special Jury Mention for Mise en Scene ][ Cleveland Int'l Film Festival (2003) Honorable Mention for Animation ][ USA FILM FESTIVAL (2004) Special Jury Award ][ San Francisco Int'l Film Festival (2003) ][ Palm Springs Int'l Short Film Festival (2003) ][ Independent Film Festival of Boston (2003) ][ Florida Film Festival (2003) ][ Atlanta Int'l Film Festival (2003) ][ Hamburg Short Film Festival (2003) ][ Ojai Film Festival (2002) ][ Sarasota Film Festival (2003) ][ Portland International Film Festival (2003) ][ Echo Park Experimental Animation Screening (2003) ][ Durango Film Festival (2003) ][ Anima 2003 (2003) ][ Kansas City Jubilee (2003) ][ Newport Beach Film Festival (2003) ][ iMAGES Festival (2003) ][ Philadelphia Int'l Film Festival (2003) ][ Taiwain Int'l Animation Festival (2003) ][ Waterfront Film Festival (2003) ][ First Glance Film Festival (2003) ][ TORCON Sci-Fi Conference (2003) ][ Silverlake Film Festival (2003) ][ Malibu Int'l Film Festival (2003) ][ Venezuela Film Week (2003) ][ Semerang Int'l Film Festival (2003) ][ Starz Denver Int'l Film Festival (2003) ][ Wiesbaden Int'l Weekend of Animation (2003) ][ 13 Mostra Curta Cinema (2003) ][ San Sebastian (2003) Montreal (2003) ][ RESFEST 2003 ][ SONOMA VALLEY (2004) ][ AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE Fantasy/Horror Festival 2004 ]
* The Box Man was one of 5 National Finalists for the 2003 Student Academy Awards, but was not available to participate in the final judging due to a print traffic error. A film festival forwarded the wrong print! story
THEATRICAL PERFORMANCE TBM plays to an Audience inside cardboard boxes as part of a Canadian performance.
How long did The Box Man take to make?
About two and a half years.
The Idea was hatched in September of 1999 during my first two weeks at CalArts for Mark Osbourne's stop-motion class. I put production off for a year to focus on making The Three of Us, while I continued to storyboard and develop The Box Man as a thesis project. I started building sets during the summer of 2000, and spent the next 6 months making the puppet, and building sets and props. It took about 6 weeks just to carve the bricks... that was a lot of fun. ;-)
The animation was then spread over a 7 month period as I tried to get as much studio time from my school as possible, which was difficult because we were limited to two weeks a semester. I scrounged as much studio time as I could, and once paid a student $50 to let me use her two weeks. When I couldn't get studio time for The Box Man, I was coordinating The 1 Second Film. I graduated CalArts in 2002 with The Box Man still unfinished, and was sneaking back into the school's studio at night to film my last few shots. Post Production then took another 3 months as I was working around the schedules of lots of nice and talented people helping for free. The film was finally finished in June of 2002.
How big is the puppet?
About 8 inches high. I built him to fit inside a trench coat that I took from a doll. The trench coat was the most important prop to find; after I found one that worked, I built the sets and puppet to fit the scale of the trench coat. The puppet had a ball and socket armature donated by The Chiodo Brothers. The bulk of the body was made of foam, the hands are silicone, the head is sculpey with clay eyebrows, the eyes are beads.
How did you do the water effect?
The water effect was achieved by using KY Jelly and brushing it between each frame. There is a funny story about that... Glycerin was used for water drips.
Where can I see it?
The festival run is over. A low res version of The Box Man is on YouTube. I need to upload a higher res version at some point...
What was the most difficult shot?
The opening sequence was the most grueling shot; it took 9 days to light and set up the motion-control rig and then another 7 days to animate. It involved an elaborate two part camera move that I wanted to appear seamless. But after the first camera move was over, and then after taking five days to animate the puppet walking into position for the second camera move, a motor in the motion-control rig stopped working! We had to take the camera apart to fiz the motor, and then put the camera back and finish the shot. In animation you don’t want to even touch the camera, yet alone have to take it apart in the middle of a shot, but that’s what we had to do. Believe it or not, we fixed it in post. But I can still see the frame where it happened.
How is your film related to Kobo Abe's book?
The film is inspired by Kobo Abe’s 1974 novel, The Box Man, which I first read in 1996. I unintentionally thought of my version four years later. I hadn’t meant to deviate from the original, but overtime I simply forgot a lot of the details and invented others. When I went back and reread the novel, I was surprised at how I had changed things, but in a good way; the story accidentally became my own.
How did you make the sets and props?
The walls were hand carved brick by brick on 1/4 inch sheets of a rigid urethane foam mounted to wood supports. The cobblestone streets and sidewalk were also made out of the same foam, but I used a heavier density that could support the weight of the puppet. I used glossy modge podge and a clear plastic resin to make the sets look wet. Unique props like the Mondrian closet had to be handmade; Todd Hemker helped make the closet and also the little wooden chair. The closet doors took me a long time. The slats were made from coffee stir sticks. The satchel was made of foam pressed with latex and had a piece of aluminum wire running through the strap attached to the puppets shoulder. The blinds were made from a plastic propoxy tube. The hard wood floors were made from paint stir sticks (free from Home Depot).