Yes, you can make a fantastical production on a real-boy budget.
That’s the conceit of director Alex Thompson’s music video for underground hip-hop producer L’Orange’s “Blame the Author,” which Thompson describes as “a turn-of-the-century, sci-fi re-telling of Pinocchio set in outer space” with “an old-fashioned, Ray Harryhausen-esque handmade feel.” The video, presented here as a MovieMaker exclusive, features rapped narration by Del the Funky Homosapien (of Gorillaz fame), and was carried out through its production and post phases for under $2,000, “with about the same amount also spent on 3D printing costs for the stop-motion characters and set flat rentals. Everything else, including all of the crew’s time and resources, was donated,” Thompson says.
“Blame the Author”‘s stop-motion process, spearheaded by Austin Taylor (who created the creepy animated character in the title sequence of American Horror Story: Freak Show), was spread out over two weeks. VFX compositing for the characters, landscape exteriors, and CG lasted roughly two additional months. Integrating the stop-motion robot characters into the live-action footage required that Thompson and crew record extensive camera height, distance and lens information on the set, which was then painstakingly recreated inside a tiny, cramped studio space several weeks later, in order to match perspective and lighting. The result is what might transpire if an early Guillermo del Toro gothic short was made with some of Laika studio’s leftover materials.
Funded by the label Mello Music Group, “Blame the Author” is Thompson’s second collaboration with L’Orange. “He’s one of the few artists I’ve worked with who understands that the best way to get a fantastic music video out of a team of moviemakers, especially when the budget is so tiny, is also the simplest—to simply trust in us and let us do our job unencumbered by copious notes or creative interference,” says Thompson of L’Orange.
The track will appear on L’Orange’s upcoming album The Ordinary Man October 27, but for now you can give it a spin here. Bonus points to anyone who manages to not bob their head. MM