puppet filmmaking at home: live workshop this weekend

LIVE Workshop, sponsored by the LA Guild of Puppetry and IBEX Puppetry, on April 4th and 5th from 10-11:30am PST.

All you need is a phone or camera, and things found at home! #bowerstartathome

My name is Alex U Griffin, and I am a puppeteer and filmmaker. I have both performed and filmed for a variety of content from digital media and commercials to short and feature films. Amongst other milestones, I attended the prestigious Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference for seven years, workshopping and being mentored by the likes of Martin P Robinson, Jim Kroupa, and Ronnie Burkett. To balance that with film, I got my MFA in Film Production from Chapman University, one of the top 10 film schools in the US. As a part of the puppetry community, I am also Vice President of both the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry and Puppeteers of America, and work for Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams film series.

I believe that the art of puppetry, done well, is able to resonate deeper and access and idea that is far more humane than its human counterpart ever could on its own. The reason for this is the simple fact that we know they are not real. Not for one second do we believe a puppet is a real human being and within that, we disconnect (sometimes ever so slightly) from the performance at hand. Through this disconnect, this letting down of one’s guard, we are now more vulnerable for a deeper connection when the performance touches on something we view as humane, or relatable.

We also find ourselves reaching a deeper connection because we made that connection ourselves. We believe what we see, understand it, and relate it to ourselves and the humans we interact with. “Don’t give [the audience] four,” Pixar director Andrew Stanton said, “give them two plus two.” Letting the audience work in union with the puppet and the puppeteer is unique in creating a whole that moves not only the puppet but also the audience to laugh, cry, or find something previously unexplorable. Puppetry is one of history’s oldest forms of public performance and, for good reason, it’s sticking around.

Bringing this art form to film isn’t an easy task, though its ability to reach audiences far beyond a local theater performance gives it an impact and longevity that can’t be ignored. I really hope that puppet filmmaking can be an avenue not just for an exploration of puppetry in general, but something that can be used to connect us no matter where we are. Just remember, any obstacle you face is just an opportunity for creativity! 

I will be teaching a "DIY Puppet Filmmaking at Home" workshop, sponsored by the LA Guild of Puppetry and IBEX Puppetry, on April 4th and 5th from 10-11:30am PST. There will also be a special online screening of IBEX Puppetry's "Handmade Puppet Dreams - For Families, Volume 2" on April 4th at 1pm PST. Later in the month, I am producing the "48hr Puppet Film Project" on April 17-19th, where YOU can submit your own film and get notes from our gracious judges Victor Yerrid (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Robot Chicken, Crank Yankers), Liz Hara (Sesame Street, Helpsters, Life in Pieces), and Sam Koji Hale (Handmade Puppet Dreams, Alien X-Mas, Yamasong: March of the Hollows). I can't wait to see what you can create! 

DIY Puppet Filmmaking at Home Workshop: https://www.facebook.com/events/889193458198269/

Handmade Puppet Dreams - For Families, Volume 2  :  https://www.facebook.com/events/508361316735095/

48hr Puppet Film Project : https://www.laguildofpuppetry.org/48hrpuppetfilms2020