Prompt: Write about something you created.
I’ve always been fascinated but stop-motion animation but never really had the time or energy to do it until I resigned my full-time job and had 4 weeks left of free time before going off to grad school. StopMo combined everything I loved: the suspension of reality, the tactile and imperfect materiality used for characters and props, and the small scale of production which demands so much patience and focus. The project started painfully slow with many challenges. I didn’t know how to create puppets, had no idea what I wanted for a story, and stressed about what I should do with creating the mise-en-scene: the world in which the story would take place. The story actually didn’t take place until the fourth and last week of production (more on that later).
With the goal established that I wanted to finish this project before I fly off to New York, I began to structure the film around certain interests and ideas. I knew I wanted to work with doll puppets made of fabric, felt, and clay. I knew I wanted to do something cooking related. I began to see what materials I had at home. A few months ago, I impulsively bought a miniature cooking stove, shipped all the way from Germany, that was 100% functional. It took 1 month to arrive but at least it did and I didn’t get scammed. With the help of a tea light candle, I could fry a tiny egg on a tiny metal skillet. See Tiny Kitchen (and other examples) on YT for examples. I’m not sure what got me so obsessed with Tiny Kitchen. I guess I’ve always wanted to be the architect to my own world and this project allowed for it.
It took about two weeks for the preproduction, which involved learning how to create a movable armature, sew clothes, drill into wood, and mold with epoxy putty. I ended up making 3 iterations of the puppet. I also spent a weekend at an antique store to buy miniature furniture and also a Rilakkuma miniature kitchen set at home, which I bought from my old workplace. Thankfully My dad helped with with constructing the kitchen table.
The third week of production involved getting familiar with Dragonframe, the stopmotion animation software, and buying the right kind of lighting. I had originally used hot lights but it caused major flickering so I had to go to a photography store to get LED lights, which solved the problem.
Week 4 rolled by and I became really stressed still had no idea what I wanted the story to be, but I was reading Mary Oliver poetry and that inspired to incorporate some poetic elements. I decided to name the main cat character Ora Lee (play on the name Oralee, which meant light in Hebrew) and started to free write. The result was this short film, which became a a visual letter to myself.