Mad God - Maverick SFX Artist Phil Tippett's Debut Stop-Motion Feature

After 30 years and multiple Kickstarter campaigns, Phil Tippet’s long-held passion project Mad God is finally finished, and will debut at the Locarno Film Festival next week. It’s rare for these ambitious, independently produced projects to ever see the light of day (see Yuri Norstein’s The Overcoat and Richard William’s The Thief and the Cobbler). Maybe it’s because they’re too idiosyncratic in style or the stop-and-start production process frustrates collaborators and financiers? Still, there’s something irresistibly romantic to me about an artist having a vision persist for so long; sustaining a tone for decades is a proper feat!

I love the handcrafted look of this one. The blending of live action photography with complex, stop motion setups that utilize tracking shots and moving cameras is kind of irresistible to me, especially since it seems to be eschewing heavy plotting for a more free-form experimental mood piece. I hope there’s a way to see it soon, be it on the festival circuit or digitally.

The latest trailer:

This recent quote from the director about filmmaking gave me a huge smile:

My wife was in the editorial department on “Amadeus,” so we got to hang out with Milos Forman a lot, and I asked him if he could give me any advice and what he said was the best advice I’ve ever gotten as a filmmaker which helped chart my course on this film. He said, “If you want to take a good shit, you have to eat a good meal.” The more time you put into something and let it incubate, the better the result, and that’s what that 20-year period did for me.

Here’s a little making-of featurette from a few years back:

It looks like a nuclear holocaust during armegeddon of the apochalypse.

I’ve had friends working on this for years… they were ramping up it significantly when I left over ten years ago. Seemed like a fun thing to putter on if you liked crafting messily and didn’t have a home to get back to, since a lot of it was after hours, labor of love style. I was a bit too wrapped up in my sports leagues and video games to lend a hand, but it might have been fun to collage some shit-men and animate them on fire.

I myself worked on the other CG short we slapped together out of other assets, in between shows and during downtime. You can see there’s a theme to Phil’s meanderings…

Mutant Land - YouTube

That was cool. I find the practical stop motion look of Mad God more appealing, but Mutant Land makes me want Phil to do a Rain World movie.

I’ve been sitting here wondering how much work Tippett did on the movie before he died, and then I realized that I’ve been thinking of Ray Harryhausen. smdh