SHOT 112

This is basically Buddha’s reaction shot with James wondering out load, “How dew Oi flush dis ting?”

We pan up from James’ POV to spy a urine-sprayed security camera, which shows James’ transgression in its lens reflection as we see the sliding panel door opening behind him.

This is my first instance of some tricky animation being intentionally downplayed. It sends a message to the audience that this film is less about its technical execution and more about the story that’s about to spew forth.

SHOT 110

So yeah. That’s a puppet penis. And this just became an R-rated film or a TV-M show. So brace yourselves.

James, in his state of desperate deterioration, has mistaken the Buddha water fountain for a Japanese toilet so he ‘Rainbirds’ all over its face.

Feel free to be shocked, offended, disgusted or amused by this. I don’t care which. It’s entirely up to you, the audience, to make whatever metaphorical or karmic sense you want of this. My job as a filmmaker is simply to provoke. That’s the contract.

Technically speaking, these Phicen male puppets come with silicone penises in three glorious stages of erection. For this shot, I filleted the biggest one open, down the frenulum with an X-ACTO blade, and inserted a stretch of 1/32” silicone tubing that was about 18 inches long. On the other end I Super Glued a medical syringe. Then I filled the syringe from a glass of water with a couple drops of yellow food coloring.

It took a few tries to get the glue formula right, so the tube would not get blown out. Cyanoacrylate did the trick. And I had to tie the shaft closed with fishing line at the base. But by far the biggest problem was catching a good squirt for each exposure. That was super hit-or-miss, which resulted in a lot of swearing on my part as my wife witnessed from downstairs.

Now add to this the fact that for each fill of the syringe, I could only get two or three good squirts. And after each try, I had to remove James’ cock from his hands and from between his legs, and siphon up more urine through the penis before posing it back for the next try.

So yeah, this shot took two nights to “pull off” but I think the results are reminiscent of classic bathroom humor scenes in comedies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Me, Myself & Irene. Especially in terms of wall soakage.

“Oi’m burstin’ fer a piss.” — James Bondáge

SHOT 108

This was a fun MOCO shot where we follow the swing of James’ mallet against the gong. This type of camera work is an homage to Stanley Kubrick’s scene in The Shining where Jack chops through the door with an axe, and the audience is made to feel the sheer, blunt force of each blow.

But here we witness James resonating from his strike, canceling out the forces of his own tremors. Voice actor Robbie Howlett really sells this with the aid of a vibrato effect, although the line I used was intended for a different scene. Such is the magic of filmmaking. Juxtaposition springs at you from unexpected sources and from all directions. It’s a film editor’s job to reconnect those nerves in new ways, once severed.

SHOT 107

We finally get to our real establishing shot midway through the scene. I’m a rebel that way. This is a straight track across the entire exterior of the minka. Here I honor the architecture by staying plumb and true.

James is still mumbling to himself, trying to figure out how a Japanese door works. Does he knock or is there a bell? Oh wait — of course. There’s a gong!

“Dey tink of everyting, dem.”

From the POV (Point of View) of our murder hornet voyeurs, we get to savor the light, the colors and the tremors that are coursing through James’ addled brain. We see a glimpse of Sushi through the panels, and tucked in the corner is a working Buddha water fountain. He appears to be contemplating why this stranger decided to trample through a peaceful Zen garden and crush an orange starfish in his drunken stupor.

Because this is an exterior shot, and during an apparent earthquake, I vibrated those Oriental lanterns for almost every frame simply by blowing on them with varying force. I feel this lent more of an organic feel to the scene rather than just putting a fan on them.

SHOT 106

This is a pure MOCO (MOtion-COntrolled) shot of my 1:6 scale Vespa with sidecar. My wife bought this prop for me for our anniversary, because we love riding our Vespa.

Here we surmise the homeowners are into potted flowers and bad-ass scooter helmets. And once we pan to the license plate, we get our first hint that this film is going to be NSFW.

Those flowers, by the way, are handcrafted in Thailand out of plasticine modeling clay. The details are incredible.

SHOT 105

Here we introduce Amanda & Sushi’s house, known in Japan as a minka. As James enters their world, we slowly fade in some color. This will be a theme throughout, to reinforce some generational and cultural contrast between James Bondáge and the contemporary characters he’s about to meet.

This was the first set I built specifically for this film, after being inspired by traditional Japanese architecture. Because my studio is tiny, most of my custom sets are 2x4x2 foot boxes constructed from plywood with removable walls, either painted or covered with tiled textures printed on paper.

The minka’s translucent rice paper sliding panels are backlit, which really makes the scene work with the color palette I designed. All the props you see were carefully curated for scale. The ceramic work on the patio is a fantastic test piece I bought from an old neighbor for $60. The cherry blossom tree is plastic, which drives home the very nature of this alternate universe.

POSERS is a prop-driven film. That means during a year of writing the script, if I could find an intriguing prop, I tried to find a way to write it into the story — no matter how absurdly.

And yes, those are giant murder hornets buzzing about. They were extremely difficult to animate because they kept falling apart! More on them later…

SHOT 001

This was the first shot I did in POSERS. I thought it would be just an experiment to get the feel for animating these Phicen bodies, but the first take came out good enough to keep.

An aging James Bondáge ambles into frame, does a double-take at the camera, draws his gun and fires. But then he collapses from an apparent heart attack.

The 1:6 walker was custom made by NorthernLightsMinis, and I added the tennis ball feet from a plastic necklace I sourced separately.

I animated James falling solely by balancing his body, without any rigging. That wasn’t easy on a 24” round mirror floor, but it came out way better than I thought. When he flings the walker away, I did that by suspending it from green fishing line and then Photoshopping the lines out in each frame.

My original script called for James to fall through the moving matte hole, and virtually into the viewer’s lap, and then get dragged around a bit. But to do that, I realized too late that I should have printed and cut a physical matte to perform that trick with actual physics rather than try to fake it all in Final Cut Pro. Maybe someday I’ll redo it that way?