For me, one of the most exciting elements of being a part of Coyote Girl: The Short Film was exploring the art of puppetry through the medium of film. Both forms of story telling are expressions that Biggs and I alike have little experience with compared to our work on stage as actors, but to which we both find a strong draw. For myself as an actor (and I believe for the writer/director in Biggs) film and puppetry, both, are facets of performance that illuminate a simplicity and honesty in our work. The expansion and contraction that comes with jumping from stage to screen and back again mirrors the transient nature of playing a story as an actor and puppeteer simultaneously. This passing through many veils, masks, forms, expressions to articulate a primal truth hits the core of what I understand Outcast Café to be, and what enables, in my opinion, good story telling.
So, in spite of often feeling like I was on a novice’s path to creating this piece, the sense of trust I harbor towards the risks of puppetry and working on film come almost innately in comparison to being an actor on stage. Perhaps this permission comes from this distance from the self/ego I’ve discussed before during our filming log. Both puppetry and working on film give me a greater sense of offering my energy and skill to aiding the story as a collaborator, rather than veering off into any abhorrently self-aware, self-centered, self-obsessed trap that I fear in acting.
Regardless, the challenge of puppetry on film was one that my mind may have been cautious about, but my heart was hungry for. Since the wrap of the film I’ve done a lot of wandering around on the internet looking into puppets on film. BAM and the Jim Henson Foundation hosted an entire event devoted to this art form through which I found March’s #inspiringfellow , Toby Froud, as well as many other talented artists. I’ve watched old Muppet re-runs, shadow puppet music videos, Labyrinth, and even Jaws with a whole new awareness and appreciation. I’m exceedingly excited to share the results of our work with the world and often wish to thank Coyote himself as a trusted collaborator, but in the meantime I want to share a very exciting discovery I made recently:
On the world wide web exists a place that features incredible short films of all types and has an entire category labeled “Puppetry”. This place is called “Short of the Week”. In celebration of our upcoming short film with puppets, I want to share a couple treats from “Short of the Week” that I find have something in common with Coyote Girl. Sometimes it’s stylistic, sometimes it’s subject matter, and sometimes it’s just the joy of puppets! And after you’ve watched these goodies, browse the site for hundreds of other awesome short films.
1. Josephine and The Roach (A dark comedy about love in live-action) by Jonathan Langager
2. Caterwaul (An aging fisherman develops an intimate relationship with a lobster) by Ian Samuels
3. Cicada Princess (A romance about love in puppetry) by Mauchi Baiocchi, narrated by Stephen Fry
4. Undone (A handcrafted poignant metaphor for the effects of Alzheimer’s) by Haley Morris
5. Dad’s Clock (An ode to a dying father & an attempt to resolve their strained relationship) by Dik Jarman