2D Puppet Filmmaking Part II: The Story & Studio

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Don’t have an idea for a story? Not to worry, the Regina Public Library’s Prairie History Room is your one stop shop for excellent historically rich stories.  After working on Chrystene Ells’ prairie puppet film, Gute Schone, I was inspired to go down the RPL’s Prairie History Room (where she had found her story) and spend some time reading through prairie settlers’ stories.  If you’ve never checked out the Prairie History Room, I highly recommend that you do.  My favorites are the community books made up of first person stories written by a town’s occupants.  These books are rich with personal stories, and sometimes even bizarre stories.  The past two puppet films that I’ve created have been based on stories I found while exploring the Prairie History Room’s collection.

“We’ve reached the land of frozen wheat, where nothing grows for man to eat, where winds they blow both cold and heat, across the prairie hard to beat.” Something as simple as this Saskatchewan Song written during the 1930s could be easily enough adapted into a short 2D prairie puppet film; and there are thousands more like this to choose from.

Once you’ve chosen your story you now need to adapt it to a script and then whip up some storyboards.  Not a good drawer you say?  To quote a professor of mine, “Blobby’s work just fine!”  A blobby is a simplified way of drawing a person; it has a nose to signify which way it’s looking and a blobbish outline form.  Storyboards are an important part of pre-production because they give you an idea of what you need to create. They are also very useful to have when you reach production and are trying to remember what the shot was that you had originally envisioned.  Storyboarding VIDEO, Storyboarding PICTURE


studio-SMALLNow that you have your storyboards and are ready to start fabricating, you need a supplies-SMALL
space to take over for the duration of your pre-production, which will act as your Puppet Fabricating Studio.  I’ve found basements work best, because when things get messy it’s nice to have a space that is dedicated to the mess.  In other words, you should avoid doubling your kitchen table as a puppet-fabricating studio, because odds are you won’t have a kitchen table for the 2 or so months that you are fabricating!

Elements you need to create your own 2D Puppet Fabricating Studio:
A sturdy table, a cutting matt (you can find them at Staples for $30 or Dollarama kitchen cutting board mats are a cheap alternative), exacto-knife and replacement blades, metal ruler, scissors, pencils, wire cutters, brads, magnets, string, thread, fish line, popsicle sticks, paper, bristle board, foam core, tape, hot-glue gun, glue, paint, paint brushes, and a shelving unit to house all of your supplies.  For my first puppet film, I created a recycled shelving unit out of cardboard boxes. All of these supplies can be found at Dollarama, Gales Wholesale, Wal-Mart, Michaels or Staples.

Well that wraps up my insider tips on just how easily you can find yourself a story and setup your very own 2D puppet fabricating studio.  Stay tuned for my next entry which will focus on Researching, Testing & Fabricating.  As for now, I can’t wait for the International Puppet Underground Film Festival, happening April 6th & 7th at the Dunlop Art Gallery and Regina Public Library Film Theatre. Check out the IPUFF Facebook page for more info.
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-Noelle Duddridge

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