Let’s go back in time to 1979. I was in the eighth grade and had a growing interest in and love for movies that was fuelled by the TV shows Magic Shadows and Saturday Night At The Movies. Both were hosted by the late Elwy Yost, a man who had a powerful influence on me.
My other fascination was with the special effects in science fiction movies and TV series. Each month, I made a beeline to a local convenience store to pick up the latest issues of Starlog and CineFX magazines to learn more about how the magic of SF movies was made. Part of me yearned to make my own short films, even if I had no clue how to do that.
While rooting around in a closet one day, I discovered a pair of old, dust-covered 8mm film cameras. The kind used by the amateur filmmakers I’d been reading about. That discovery sparked my imagination.
I set one of those cameras up in front of a disused table in my parents’ basement. On top of that table, I cobbled together a crude set and with some small articulated action figures borrowed from a friend, I got to work. For an hour or two each evening, I meticulously (or, as meticulously as I could) moved those action figures a fraction of a millimetre and took a single frame shot of that movement with the camera. I repeated that over and over again until my fingers tired and my brain went numb.
A few months into my crude experiments with stop motion animation, and with a couple of minutes of footage in the camera, my parents called a halt to the proceedings. I was told what I was doing wasn’t practical and that I had to stop.
Since that day, I’ve wondered if everything we do needs to be practical. The conclusion I’ve come to?