Love, To and From Laika Studios

Recently Laika Studios released their third film, The Boxtrolls, which of course I saw on opening day. It was a good trek to the cinema… two hours on the bus right after my last class on a Friday. Of course I saw it by myself (I didn’t want any distractions!).

Coraline (2009) ©Laika and Focus Features

For those of you unfamiliar, Laika Studios is a small animation studio in Portland, Oregon. They had their feature debut in 2009 with the film adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel Coraline. [Making of Coraline Featurette]. The studio specializes in stop-motion animation, which is often said to be a “dying art form.” Stop-motion animation is when one moves an object (primarily a puppet) inch by inch, snapping photographs of each miniscule movement. Then the frames are run together to give the objects life. Interesting huh? Anyway, The Boxtrolls was a beautifully animated masterpiece. It is currently nominated for an Academy Award! (along side The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Song of the Sea, Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2). You can watch one of my favorite featurettes from The Boxtrolls right here: [The Boxtrolls –  Let’s Dance]. It shows us how the ballroom scene was created.

ParaNorman (2012) ©Laika and Focus Features

While I may not have personally loved The Boxtrolls as much as I love their previous films Coraline and ParaNorman, simply because it’s hard to top perfection (haha!). Seriously, I had just found those two more relatable to myself growing up as they were modern kids in modern times with fantasy overlining their reality. A magical realism so to speak.

The Boxtrolls was essentially pure fantasy, which isn’t bad…it was just different than their previous work. Though that has sort of become Laika’s theme. It was to say the least, a marvelously crafted film with excellent character design and miraculously detailed worlds. They are positively breathtaking to say the least, especially after watching how all of the scenes were constructed, each piece created individually by hand, each character moved painstakingly inch by inch. [The Boxtrolls – Nature of Creation].

Of course, I regularly blog about Laika Studios on my tumblr account (click here for some of those). I assume this must be the reason why a mysterious package showed up at my door one day. What was in this package? I was expecting another promo item, as they have sent me a few of those. The first of which was in 2012 just before the release of their second film ParaNorman. (post on that here). However, this one was different. Nobody had contacted me beforehand, the box showed up unlabeled, aside from the fact that it had been sent from Portland, which gave me a little clue. Well, a pretty big clue. I proceeded to open it and find that it was filled with nothing less than real, authentic props used in the actual Boxtrolls film.

To hold a real, actual piece from one of these films was amazing. There were tiny bits of cheese that filled the tables in the party sequence, tiny wine bottles, of course boxes… and even a piece of the sidewalk! I think I actually found the scene one of the pieces may have been used in!

I also made a video to give a little bit of a closeup of the props, as well as several of my other Laika items including art books, DVDs, promo items and so forth. [watch it right here]. It was quite possibly one of the best things that ever happened to me in all of my life. Now these props and pieces sit in a collection on my shelf, which has now essentially a shrine to Laika and all of their work. boxtrolls stuff The Boxtrolls is now available on DVD and DVD/BluRay Combo pack. There is also a recently released combo pack that includes all three Laika films together! I’m not saying you have to get it, I’m just suggesting you should. boxtrolls dvd

LAIKA/house Creative Challenge – September 2012

This is my entry for the September 2012 LAIKA/house (the people who made ParaNorman and Coraline) Creative Challenge.

The challenge was to create a character “Missing from ParaNorman” and so I decided to create the mentioned (but never shown and nameless) character of Mitch’s boyfriend. If you haven;t seen ParaNorman,it is a stop-motion animated zombie comedy for kids that is defiantly more than the trailers let on. [trailer] Mitch is a big jock and at the end of the film it was revealed that he has a boyfriend in the line “my boyfriend is a chickflick nut!” this actually lead to a bit of controversy from hateful, repressive parental units.

Meet Trent. He is a lanky, awkward teenager who spends a little too much time watching movies, reading and playing video games. He likes to watch “chick-flicks” because they give him a good cry as he’s mildly emotionally tormented. The simple mind of his boyfriend helps straighten out his stress and sadness. He likes Elvis, cartoons and says “Dude,” a lot. He was cut because he wasn’t necessary to the initial plot of the story and might have caused a bit more controversy then any one animation company could handle just now. He was also busy at a comic convention in New York City.

I decided to have Trent over Mitch’s shoulder because of the way he does this with his little brother during the film. (Also, I did not win the contest).

ParaNorman Package

I had been talking about ParaNorman a bit on tumblr and about how much I love Laika and such, then I get this email a few days later from someone at ParaNorman. Now Laika is known for sending odd packages out with parts from their movies and posters and little odd tokens and they said they were going to send me a poster. Needless to say that I was really excited when these showed up at my doorstep. They’re lifesize replicas of Norman’s slippers and tooth brush. It’s addressed from “Blithe Hollow,” that’s where Norman is from. I’m so excited for this movie and can’t believe they decided to send me something.