These movies are strange and bitter comedies about failure, frustration, and intellectual dissatisfactions…often using puppets.
Like a lot of other folks, I grew up on all those Henson projects…The Muppets, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, The Storyteller. And when you’re young, it’s easy to believe you can do the same thing someday, and start a huge puppet empire. But then your brain goes through the laundry of early adulthood, and you discover caffeine and angst and irritability and Nietzsche/Raskolnikov and daily life maintenance, and nothing feels further away than that happy Muppet mindset…
But through all that tangle, the brain-switch to be a puppet filmmaker stayed in the “on” position. But what kind of puppet movies can you do, if that rainbowed Henson land seems lost to you? Perhaps…doing post-modern (post-post-modern?) puppet movies that connect to secret thoughts and fears of the lonely overthinker. And try to make them entertaining…somehow.
But it’s just the dire decision every filmmaker has to face, one way or another. Do you join the long queue waiting for that tiny chance at directing lavish studio projects that usually end up conforming to committee standards of what a Cineplex product needs to be? Or…do you make the very peculiar movies that reside in your head, no matter how much that puts you out to sea, floating further and further away from the land of billboards and publicity departments?
I know I made that a bit binary – but sometimes the path comes down to an either/or. And while I’ve got this Kierkegaard reference on the plate, technology has made it entirely feasible to produce movies with all the freedom and solitude of a novelist. And if you choose the dirt road of microbudget freedom, then why simply imitate what other movies have been? Why make cheaper versions of the studio movie format? Once you leave all the moneyed fantasies behind, the horizon is open…even if you’re out there all alone with a backpack full of camcorder batteries. (and a puppet) (no judgment)
Some filmmakers wait around (forever) to get invited inside the posh studio-filmmaking hotel, and some wander off into the forest and just start making their unique movies without money…it’s always been that way. And a puppeteer named Roman Paska once wrote this:
“I can think of many good aesthetic and poetic reasons why I work with puppets, but they can’t really explain what moved me to be a puppeteer…demon instinct tells me things my mind can never fathom; that, for instance, the puppet is more intent on being real than being symbolic…but deep inside, I know that puppet theater is as irrational and unnecessary as nature. Like a bird, a planet or a disease. And despite all efforts to feather a nest for puppet theater in contemporary society, it remains a fundamentally deviant, subversive, marginal art form. That might be the most strange and marvelous thing about it.” (1992)
Each movie took about a year to do. Some of them are a bit contemplative and surreal (especially OIPLF) – I recommend a cocktail (or five) – or whatever gets you in the mood for such things. I’m afraid this site doesn’t really have news or updates, I just kind of slog away on something for months and then release it. But if you’re reading this, somehow you wound up here. Howdy. (handshake) Pleased to meet ya.
For the last couple of years, the main Lumalin project has been Never Got Famous. To subscribe to the Lumalin YouTube channel, click here. And if you would like early access to new Lumalin projects, you can become a Patreon supporter by clicking here.
Long live existential partial-puppet cinema…*suspicious cough*
P.S. And to other filmmakers going into the forest…
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
– Herman Melville