15 June 2017

The Past Tense of "Feel"

It's weird how you can go into something with all the best intentions, and the whole thing just ... fizzles.

I've had this experience enough times now to know it's a part of life. Part of the cycle of life, I should say. We're born, a lot of stuff happens, we die. It's kind of important to remember that we're not the stuff that happens, lest our errant identification and projection lead to pointless, wheel-spinning suffering.

In other words, I am not The Felties. And I'm really not that baffled or upset that I couldn't pull it off.

Looking back over past posts on this blog, I see some insightful reaching and charming naivete. I had just turned 30 when I started it, and was just beginning to feel that "Oh shit I better do something with my life" desperation that has since become as ubiquitous as a persistent ringing in the ears.
Between shows at Playhouse Disney - Live On Stage!
I left Disneyland earlier that year, and was casting about for something resembling a career as a puppeteer with very little success. I shot a couple of pilots, worked with some incredible people, but could not find my footing.
Performing Mi-Ka, one of the Teenie Tones
I tried to make my own thing happen. That was The Felties. Working with some of those incredible people, I made pretty significant strides. But--and this is very important--I had no idea what I was doing.

The Felties had become way too precious to me, so rather than going the rough-and-tumble route with the precious, I tried to teach myself everything there is to know about producing a webseries with a little thing called Disembodied Animal Head Theatre. I made six episodes of the show a decade ago, and not one of them has been viewed more than a few hundred times.
Tex, the host of Disembodied Animal Head Theatre
Inexplicably hosted by a rubber chicken with a bad English accent, a variety of animal head "snapper puppets" acted out bits and pieces of Shakespeare. The animal heads are in storage today; the rubber chicken has disintegrated into nothing.
Maybe not quite "nothing," but the rubber has degraded beyond repair.
I learned a lot with DAHT. Mostly, I learned that--in the internet parlance of that long-gone era--the cake is a lie. If you build it, they most certainly will not come. I also learned that one person acting alone can only do so much.
Cheese Pizza, aka "Cesare Piazza," one of the stars of DAHT.
So what to do about The Felties?
The evolution of Mimey, from the first puppet to the last.
One of the folks I worked with post-Disneyland saw my video tests of Mimey and Clownie and proposed we do a show with just the two of them. Again, my high esteem for the characters trumped any effort to bring them to the screen that wasn't exactly what I had envisioned in my most fervent daydreams. I'm the first to say I'm a dummy. This was a talented collaborator actively expressing an interest in making something happen, and I backed away from the table.
I actually did storyboards for the first "Mimey & Clownie Show" episode.
I returned the Stan puppet to the brilliant puppet builder who built him, fulfilling a nine year-old request he made back when it became obvious I had no idea what I was doing, and The Felties wasn't going to happen. This was me turning a corner, I think.
Stan, a screengrab from his camera test.
But I still have Mimey, Clownie, Dully, and a secret desire to see this long-dead project spring to life.

Stuff happens, so who knows?