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A brief history of a frustrated auteur



I won't go into tremendous detail about my childhood, but toys were difficult to come by; mostly they came broken, from thrift stores, or the dump, which forced me to learn to repair things from an early age. Both my parents were artists and we were a nomadic family, spending a lot of time in home-built campers or converted buses, on the road.


We didn't live in a proper apartment until I turned 10, and even then it was the converted parking garage in the bottom of a Victorian tenement, in Oakland, Ca. We built everything from scratch, and I taught myself mechanical engineering picking broken VCRs from the trash, and repairing bikes. I learned drawing and painting from two very prolific artist parents, as well as carpentry, maintenance, and language. Mom was an illustrator, and extremely well-read; dad was a painter, landscaper and repairman.


At 15, I gathered a handful of artistic friends and we founded Youth Comix Group, with the goal of publishing before I turned 16. I produced two issues of my first comic, BEAR, which were made on a Xerox, hand-bound and delivered personally to Bay Area comic shops. After about a year of work and countless bus-rides, I earned a grand-total of $4.72 in profit. Most of my following endeavors would be as passionate and about as profitable.


At 17, I took The Greyhound to Hollywood, Ca, and quickly became homeless. I appeared in two pieces of media, Terminator 2: The Ride, and a commercial asking for donations for lost and runaway teens; neither of which I can tell with any certainty which shots I appear in. But I did fall in-love with the idea of moviemaking--though I mostly earned a living painting murals for Los Angeles County. I returned to Berkeley at 18 and became a sign painter, with a few house-painting gigs, and murals on the side. That transitioned into carpentry which I turned out to be quite good at. I became a specialist in remodeling and restoration of Craftsman, Victorian and Edwardian houses. Matching flooring and excavating antique moldings from under dozens of layers of ancient paint. I also began writing, and joined a marionette puppet company, which would change the course of my life forever.


I worked by day as a carpenter, for the next decade, while doing marionette puppet shows on the side. Learning from photocopied library books and trial and error, we somehow built and produced several popular shows on nearly zero budget and less sleep. Eventually, I quit carpentry to go to Oregon College of Art & Craft. I attended for only one year before getting a 'Summer Job' at Michael Curry Design which lasted six and a half years.


At Curry I learned exotic, cutting-edge materials, and puppet-building techniques handed down by generations of master builders. I worked on massive projects and enormous puppets, costumes, props, and parade floats for Disney, Cirque Du Soleil, Universal Studios, Julie Taymor, Chriss Angel, Wynn Casinos and many, many others. I delved into every aspect of the process; from design, to sculpting, engineering, sewing, molding, casting, composites, fabrication and paint, to delivery and service.


In 2010 I left Curry to found my own design/build studio. I also continued with marionette productions with my own troupe, The CastIron Carousel. I produced and directed, performed and co-wrote a half dozen shows with a wonderful group of rotating players from 2004-2017, and look forward to converting some of those stories to films or shows for streaming. Now I focus on a YouTube channel and polishing scripts for the two films I have planned, while I build machines, props, and puppets for a diverse array of clients.


I'm always looking for the next interesting project and challenging build.



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4 Comments


Johanne
Johanne
Sep 18, 2022

Aie...chaque fois que j'écris mon verbe, il est transformé en "devez". ???Sacré technologie

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Johanne
Johanne
Sep 18, 2022

Sorry...que vous prévoyez de faire....pas "que vous devez". Cela ne vous sied pas ce verbe.

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Johanne
Johanne
Sep 18, 2022

J'aimerais tellement pouvoir vous aider dans le film de marionnettes que vous prévoyez. Comment se fait-il que vous parlez si bien français? Moi-même j'ai grandi 2 ans à Chicago...les 2 premières années de ma vie.

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Geahk Burchill
Geahk Burchill
Sep 18, 2022
Replying to

Oh non, je ne parle pas français. C'est mon site qui le traduit automatiquement

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