Happy Product: Frequently Asked Questions

INTRO:
Here are a few of the most asked questions. Check this out if you have any questions -- but don't think this means you can't email me, I'd still love to hear from you! If you want to know something that isn't answered here, please drop me a line.


The most asked question: What is the music score for MORE?
MORE was inspired by and is accompanied by the song "Elegia" by New Order. It is the 5th track on their 1985 album "Low Life".


Did the New Order music inspire the film?
Yes. The song had been an instrumental staple of many a mix tape in my youth and one of those tapes surfaced when I was seeking to make a new short. While listening to the song I freeformed images and visuals I had been kicking around for years and they fell into place thanks to the moods, drama and structure of the song.


Is MORE made with computers?
MORE was created using the good old fashioned technique of Stop-Motion animation (www.stopmotionanimation.com). I did use computer tools to edit the rough cut of the film (Adobe Premiere v4.2), to do some compositing (Avid's Matador) and to fix some mistakes and camera problems from the shoot (Avid's Matador and Adobe After Effects v4.1). To create the Cel Animation sections in the film, we also used computers for ink+paint and compositing (Adobe Photoshop v5 and After Effects v4.1)


How big were the puppets and sets for MORE?
The puppets were 11 inches head to toe. The sets were all pretty big. The apartment set was four feet square and the cityscape set was about 20 feet deep and about 12 feet wide.


What materials were used to create the puppets?
The armature skeleton inside was aluminum wire with wood blocks for the hips. The skin was created using a stretchable laytex fabric coated with many layers of liquid latex to seal it and make it smooth.


Is it true that MORE is an IMAX film?
Yes (kinda). IMAX is a name brand (like Kleenex) for the largest film format in the world. It is 70mm run sideways with the image size 15 film perfs across. We created the film in this format, but not in association with the company IMAX. The generic term for this film format is "Large Format" or "Giant Screen Format."


Does MORE ever play in GIANT SCREEN theaters?
It did for a short time. MORE was lucky enough to screen in New York and London in front of the amazing film "Everest" (www.macfreefilms.com). But corrently the film is very difficulty to program since Large Format theaters (much like typical theaters) don't really screen short films. I encourage anyone to but theirn local IMAX theater to run the film, but it's an uphill battle. Hopefully we'll have some screenings soon, I'll keep you updated on the site.


How did MORE get the chance to be a GIANT SCREEN FILM?
Two of my Producers on MORE, Debra Callabresi and Kelly Moren, were both working in the Giant Screen Format film industry when I was conceiving of the short. They were spearheading the Experimental Film and Animation Task Force for the Large Format Cinema Association (the LFCA). This organization was seeking to assist the production of animated shorts in Large Format to increase exposure for shorts as well as encourage experimentation in the Large Screen format. It was an amazing opportunity, one that I couldn't pass up.


Does the 35mm version of MORE ever screen in theaters?
Occasionally, MORE does screen at festivals, colleges and other movie theater venues. You can check here for updates: (www.gethappy.com/screenings.html - or something like that)


Is MORE a music video also?
Yes, there is a music video version of the film that was created to support the music of an up and coming artist named Kenna (www.kennaonline.com). He approached me when he had seen MORE on my reel and he felt it was a perfect match for his song "Hell Bent." We collaborated on an edit of the film that best fit the track and it turned out to be very quite popular on MTV2. Here's an interesting link about the music video version of the film, we made #47 on Slant Magazine's top 100 videos of all time!


Is the Kenna Music Video available anywhere?
Well, that's a tough one. I don't think it's really out there right now. I would love to stream it on the site so everyone could see it side by side with the film. But believe it or not, I don't have the rights to do so.


Why is it so hard to see this Kenna video?
It's a complicated story. The video was created for Kenna's first label Interscope as a push to get Kenna's album released (it did). I figured it would be a good way to increase my audience (it did) and I was also hoping it would get more music video work (it didn't). I did it for very little money in exchange for limited rights. The assumption was that if the album got released it they would renegotiate for more rights so they could use the video more widely. But by the time Kenna's album was released, he was on a different label (Columbia) and that label didn't want to spend any more money to use the video. I have been trying to get the OK to use the film on the site and DVD, even offering Kenna a chance to make a commentary track telling the story, but it hasn't come to pass. I am hoping it will get worked out soon since it's a part of the history of MORE and would like it to be out there. Stay tuned!


When will the new short be coming out?
I am hoping to be done with the new short someday. I am working right now to support the family and this doesn't leave too much time for the personal projects. I will keep you updated!


What are your inspirations- books, films, artists, etc?
I have always been inspired by artists like Umberto Bocionni, Gustav Klimpt, Paul Klee, H.R. Geiger, Dr. Seuss, Chris Ware and countless thrift store paintings. In film, animation and live-action films have equally inspired me. Things like: Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back, The Quay Brothers (Street of Crocodiles), Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys), Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Vincent, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Martin Scorsese (After Hours, Raging Bull), the amazing genius of Michele Gondry (Bjork videos, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), The Wall, Jan Svankmeyer, Jim Henson, etc...


What specific things inspired MORE?
MORE was mostly a rip off of Brazil and the films of Jenet and Caro. And I think it was extremely inspired by Citizen Kane. I never realized the connection until someone pointed out that the main character in MORE longs for his childhood much like Charles Foster Kane and his last thoughts of his lost childhood treasure, Rosebud.


What specific things inspired Greener?
Greener was hugely inspired by a screening of the Quay Brothers film "The Street Of Crocodiles." On the other end of the spectrum I was also compelled by the slick and funny work of Nick Park at Aardman Animation. I wanted to bridge the vast gap between these two types of films to make something altogether new. I was also very inspired by the Academy Award winning short "Balance" by the Lowenstein brothers.


How do you make a living?
I have been lucky enough over the past 14 years to support myself doing filmmaking of one kind or another. I have done graphic TV promos (at E!, TBS, ABC, Intro, etc) opening sequences for TV shows (The Movie Lounge), a music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic (Jurassic Park), and I've directed the live action sequences for a lot of the SpongeBob Squarepants TV show (and upcoming movie). Recently I have also been working at DreamWorks developing animated feature film ideas for the studio.


How do you finance your films?
Greener was financed by my savings and from generous support from my Dad. MORE was fully funded by my producer, and long time family friend, Steve Kalafer. My new film will be funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship, private investors, other grants and by anyone who buys from the HappyProduct.com store!


How did you get started, where did you go to school, and did you major in Art?
I have been drawing, sculpting and messing around with cameras ever since I was a kid. In high school I started making videos for fun, but didn't take it all that seriously. After High School I went to art school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY where I studied foundation art. I made a couple of really bad short films there and took the only animation class they offered. I fell hard for animation and transferred to CalArts in Los Angeles to study animation and filmmaking fulltime. It was there under the tutelage of Christine Panushka and Jules Engel that I really began to understand how colorful the entire universe of animation was. I graduated afgter two years and finished my thesis "Greener" after another year and a half of saving money for post production.


How did you do the glowing effects in MORE?
They were created in-camera with multiple exposures. See the Behind the Scenes Section of the site for more detail.


How long did MORE take to make?
The production of MORE, including storyboarding and pre-production, lasted 9 months. If you include all the time I spent puzzling over the images, ideas and emotional beats and how they added up to a film, then it would have to be five or so years.


Are you developing a feature film?
I have written an animated feature film with another writer, Dylan Haggerty. We are currently polishing up the second draft so that it will be ready to present to investors at the completing of my next short film. It's initials are TGAM and I will be updating the site with info and artwork as it develops. hang in there though since it may take awhile to find an arty stop-motion film rated PG-13 (at least).


Where can I obtain a copy of your short films?
MORE has been on three different DVD compilations: Short #7 Utopia (out of print), Broadcast DVD #2 (out of print) Cannes and ResFest's best of Res vol#2. While each of these is a version of MORE, the Special Edition DVD will be the best possible encoding ever committed to DVD. Res' encoding is pretty good, but the Special Edition DVD will be the best encoding of the film since it was digitally remastered. We did an extensive dust removal and clean up of the short in 2002.


Where can I find products with your characters on them?
So far, the only place for MORE and Greener stuff is right here at HappyProduct.com. We are hoping to expand the line of merchandise to include all sorts of cool stuff. Send us your suggestions, we'd love to know what you'd want to purchase.


Why should I buy your DVD of MORE when I can see the film for free?
This is an excellent question. Well, it is true you can see MORE in it's entirety for free here, but really it's just a preview at best. I really never wanted the film to be seen at less than full resolution, but I believe that the film is so compelling to those that see it, want to pass it on to friends. And hopefully, enough of the folks that see MORE will want to keep it and support my future stop-motion productions. Wouldn't that be cool?