A stop-motion sci-fi adventure FILM Ten years in the making

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FABRICATED is a short film which I started shooting in 2005. I designed, built and animated the creatures as well as the strange worlds they inhabit. 

The film is a journey through an alien world which was once our own. Set in a time after organic life has passed from the scene, mechanical creatures form themselves from the materials and the machine aesthetic left behind. In an anonymous assembly line, a creature named Oto is constructed from steel and bone and sent off. Making his way through an old world that is dying and a new world struggling to be born, Oto begins to sense that he may have a part to play in the evolution of his imperfect kind.

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On his journey, Oto encounters a series of landscapes, starting in a jungle of rusty iron, then progressing through copper and into a world of brass where he meets a wise old man.

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Eventually Oto ends up in a vast steel wasteland of seemingly abandoned machinery, where lives another special creature named Rex.

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Over the ten years of shooting, the film moved with me through 11 different apartments in the cities of Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Oakland. 

Engineering jobs and Chicago scrapyards provided me with piles of obscure and beautiful mechanical detritus, which I then re-engineered and sculpted into new forms and uses. The creatures were fashioned in a similar process. Found elements influenced the design and were then incorporated into, or discarded from, the finished construction. The sets were built to evoke a fully-realized world, but world-building for a film like this is always a matter of stretching resources as thin as they will go.

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There were times that I was thoroughly burnt out on the project and the though of completing it seemed very far away indeed. Each time I finished a shot, however, I was reminded of the beauty of this new world and I would be inspired to keep on building and shooting. Slowly but surely, all of the pieces came together into this primal story of creation and survival.

 
 

Click on the image below to find the full-length film at Amazon

 

The production was typical for stop-motion animation, which is to say, grueling. A typical animation session would begin at 10pm and continue until the sun started to peek through the windows the following morning, ruining the light. I averaged about 2 hours per second of finished footage. As tedious and difficult as the process was, there was nothing more satisfying than finishing a shot and watching a static scene and stiff creatures come magically to life.

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I would often watch a 6-second shot looping for 30 minutes after completing it at 5am, mesmerized by the spectacle I had just created.


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The dinosaur creature, Rex, was the most complicated armature I had ever built and it was his design that embodies many of the wider themes of the film. The genesis was a shard of bone and teeth I found on the Florida coast. One day I looked at it from just the right angle, and a tyrannosaur looked back at me:

 

Behind-The-Scenes video and experimental animation sequences I did to stave off the tedium. With more tedium.

 

After photography was complete, I collaborated with a talented team of sound artists, composer, mixer and colorist to fill out the world with sound design, soundtrack and some beautiful color work.

Creature Vocals   John France           Composer  Andrew Poole Todd

Sound Design   Ryan Mauk, Chris Vibberts      Mixer   Dan Olmsted        Color    Bradley Greer