hey reddit, you may know some of my stop motion films with objects:

Check out my Kickstarter and a behind-the-scenes video for "Submarine Sandwich" here. Also obsessing over why people in California put mayo, mustard, AND oil and vinegar on their sandwiches. That's just wrong, people.

I am also developing Garbage Pail Kids for the screen. Victoria's going to be helping me get started today.

Proof: https://twitter.com/PESfilm/status/494906126706958337



Update: Thanks so much, guys! This was great. I'll come back later tonight to get to some of the questions I missed. Update: Done. Thanks again for a great AMA.

Comments: 147 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

CisforCookies50 karma

Are you familiar with ASMR (head tingles) and are you aware that your films (particularly Fresh Guacamole and Western Spaghetti) are a huge hit with the ASMR community as "unintentional triggers"? How do you feel about that?

officialPES32 karma

I love the idea of head tingles. When I do sound design I usually have a sound in my head that I feel will connect with the animation that I've made and will help sell the idea(e.g. grenade as avocado) to a viewer. This could be a totally different sound for a different creator. Maybe I am just naturally drawn to these trigger sounds.

rotch2920 karma

Is Garbage Pail Kids going to be animated or live action? Do you like the 1987 movie?

love your work.

officialPES22 karma

Garbage Pail Kids will definitely be animated, though exactly what form of animation that is is not clear yet. But interestingly, I think the 1987 movie (which as an aside is considered like the worst movie ever made, I think it has a zero on RottenTomatoes) has sort of become a cult classic. It really didn't play into my influence at all. It's the cards themselves, and characters in the cards, that I remembered so well & wanted to bring to life. So I have my own story for them that has nothing to do with the 1987 version.

NorbitGorbit3 karma

will wacky packs also make an appearance?

officialPES6 karma

Good question. One of the ideas I pitched is that anytime the Garbage Pail Kids use a product, it will be a Wacky Package. For example, if a GPK eats a bag of chips, it's gotta be Free-Toes. And when they brush their teeth it's gotta be Crust toothpaste.

NorbitGorbit0 karma

oh! who are you pitching to -- Topps? Movie Studio? Spiegelman? all three at once?

officialPES5 karma

I pitched to Michael Eisner, ex Disney CEO. He's the one financing development through his company Tornante. He owns the rights to the Topps archive (which includes properties like Mars Attacks, Bazooka Joe, Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, etc).

beernerd19 karma

How did you get into stop motion?

officialPES53 karma

You know, I didn't study animation in school. I had an idea to make 2 chairs have sex. And you know, at the time I was young and pretty poor and I realized that i had to figure out how to make this idea, I just thought the most logical way to do it was to take the actual chairs, bring them to a roof, and bring them to life through stop-motion animation. And so I taught myself how to animate. I was living in a bachelor pad in NYC at the time, and I started ordering doll furniture from eBay. And I would stay up late at night animating the doll furniture to teach myself how to animate little chairs. And then when I was ready, I shot the film on the roof somewhere in the East Village. My roommates thought it was pretty strange, all this doll furniture just showing up at the house.

HyperbolicInvective19 karma

What has been your experience with Kickstarter? Is it freeing to have the money you need for your projects or is it overwhelming to have so much responsibility and faith placed in you?

officialPES15 karma

Well, the Kickstarter experience has been phenomenal, first off. It's been great to connect with people more directly, and I've really enjoyed the interaction I'm getting there. But it's the first time I've shared my idea with the world before I've actually made it, so that makes me a little nervous. Usually in the past I would just toil away in obscurity for a year or two, and then one day I would put the film online to pass around & enjoy. It would be a total surprise, no expectations. And I am wary of Expectations in life in general (isn't there proof that it leads to unhappiness?)! but this is a totally different model, and so it's something I just wanted to try, because in working on my films I've realized that people are genuinely intrigued by my process and I thought it would be interesting to experiment with opening up a bit more to the public. In addition, it seems to be a really fantastic way to finance projects without having to give up creative control or even licensing rights. It will allow me to make the film and place it in front of my own audience immediately (as opposed to Showtime's audience, as it was for The Deep and Fresh Guacamole).

HyperbolicInvective5 karma

Awesome answer, thanks! You managed to (indirectly) answer my other question also! I think it's really cool that you're "experimenting with opening up a bit more to the public". I'm always interested when really great artists walk through their methodology. It is an amazing experience to feel like I am part of the project itself and to see it through its realization.

officialPES2 karma

So nice to hear. Thanks so much!

ChuckEye15 karma

Been a fan since I saw Western Spaghetti years ago.

Do you shoot with an SLR? Or what kind of camera do you normally use for your films?

officialPES17 karma

Yeah, DSLRs, absolutely. I've actually shot with a bunch of different DSLRs, the next film I'm going to shoot with the brand-new Nikon D810. I think it may be, in fact, the first time anyone's ever shot an 8K stop-motion film. It's an amazing camera.

stewartmcc3 karma

what kind of lenses will you use? Do you use non-CPU lenses?

officialPES9 karma

I use Nikon Prime lenses.

theflippist14 karma

Do you treat yourself to a manicure when you're animating a scene that requires your hands being filmed, or do you practice regular care for your hands?

officialPES12 karma

GREAT question.

Believe it or not, I'm still a little bit of a nail-biter! I do take extra care to not bite my fingernails when I'm shooting the food films, and I can do it, I can totally not do it for months, but then one day I'll wake up and discover I've bitten my nail off. It's just a strange thing. but yeah, I pay a little attention to making my hands appetizing or at least not repulsive when cooking food. Even if that food is plastic!

GodsComic14 karma

When chairs have sex, who's the top?

officialPES43 karma


Well, I would like to say, since that's my voice, that I'm the one on the top (the gold chair). And Sarah, right next to me, is the voice of the little red chair. So it worked out for us, we got married.

littlegraysheep14 karma

What's your favorite stop motion scene[from a movie or TV show] and why?

officialPES19 karma

"Tell 'em LARGE MARGE sent ya!" (coincidentally, Large Marge is a GPK character)

littlegraysheep2 karma

Golden age of Tim Burton :D

officialPES2 karma


MonsieurFolie12 karma

I've only recently seen your stop motion films and I must say they are great. Congrats.

However, I'm sure the burning question that is on everyone's mind is as follows: Do you have a recipe for that guacamole?

officialPES25 karma

I do have the recipe for that guacamole! I think you can make it exactly as it is in the film if you know what every object represents. One point of disagreement among people is why I chose to leave out cilantro. But in my research for the film, and I went to Mexico actually, I discovered in the classic recipes they don't use cilantro, it's more of an American thing.

tinsmith6311 karma

Where do you get the inspiration for your films?

officialPES18 karma

Well, I mean, each film has its own point of inspiration. I'd say that each film kind of has one idea in it that i couldn't stop thinking about that I really wanted to make. For instance in a film like Game Over, I read an interview with the creator of the Pac-Man character, Tōru Iwatani, and he said he based the character of Pac-Man on a pizza with a slice missing. I never knew that and thought it would be a really interesting idea for a film, and wanted to apply it to other arcade games. And that was really the birth of that idea, for example. For as long as I can remember, whenever i walked into a supermarket and saw a pile of fresh avocados, I always thought "grenades." And if I just grabbed one and throw it, I could blow up the produce department. This, just, idea of grenade as avocado just stuck with me and I decided to turn it into an entire short film. I just follow that train of thought - what would i make with an avocado? Well there's really only one answer to that question: guacamole. And it's almost like a little puzzle I play with myself: if a grenade is an avocado, then what would be the tomato, the jalapeño, the onion, and I just work on those ideas for years until I'm happy with the ideas I've come up with and feel like I have enough ideas to make a film.

tinsmith636 karma

Thanks for responding. I'm amazed to hear that you can find a creative spark in the kinds of ordinary situations we all face everyday (like supermarkets).

officialPES16 karma

I'm terrible to go food-shopping with. I just wander around picking up all the strange vegetables.

theflippist10 karma

I know you use a lot of found objects from garage sales and flea markets...what are some of your favorite finds?

officialPES10 karma

I don't even know where to start with this answer...I have so many cool things - old shark teeth, bocce balls that I picked up in Belgium, a lighter made out of a spent bullet casing. One of the joys of going out and looking for objects is that you never know what you're going to find. And the thing that you're looking for usually is never there when you need it. I can't even explain sometimes why I like certain objects. Other times, I discover something that I want to buy because I can bring it to life in some way in a future film or it sparks an idea or something that I would use in the future.

ddutchgutss9 karma

Would you ever want to make a full feature length stop motion film? Your shortfilms are wonderful but I am curious what a PES movie might consist of.

officialPES13 karma

Haha! Absolutely! I mean I think it should be in IMAX 3-D as well. I want people to be like, google-eyed when they walk out of the theater. Imagine watching an hour and a half of chairs having sex !

I'm developing several ideas to bring my style of animation to the larger format.

Ohsin7 karma

Do you have a staggering collection of interesting things which may find a life later on?

officialPES9 karma

Yes. Hahaha!

But it may surprise people in my home life I generally prefer a minimalist decor. I'm not a clutter bug. I don't like clutter, actually. I have specific things I keep in cabinets.

Pinwurm7 karma

The sounds in your films are phenomenal.

Whats your process for foley work?

officialPES13 karma


There's 2 different ways I make films. Some films use pre-recorded sound effects, like Game Over, which used the actual sound effects from the original arcade games. My film Kaboom used actual war sound effects. And The Deep used underwater sound effects that existed in Hollywood effect libraries. But on the other hand, I do all my own foley work for other films, like Western Spaghetti and Fresh Guacamole, I make those sounds myself because they don't exist in sound libraries. You can't just say "Find someone throwing a tomato in a pan with oil in it." It just doesn't exist. So I had to come up with a different solution for that. In fact, it's a wet t-shirt being dropped into my bathroom sink.

MrX167 karma

What were some of your favorite animated films growing up, be they stop-motion or traditional animation? What are some of your favorite modern day animated films?

officialPES7 karma

The films that made the most impression on me - the stop-motion films that made the most impression, that influenced me the most, were the short films of Jan Švankmajer. The films he made in the 60's, 70's and 80's opened my mind to the possibility of this medium. I loved what he was doing with objects & textures. I was moved so much I wanted to try my hand at it, and come up with my own ideas.

The1WhoRingsTheBell6 karma

Hi PES! Long time fan! I backed a while ago and I'm looking forward to my t-shirt! (And the film, obviously!)

Did you bail out of a "plan A" or did you always want to be an animator? Also, what's your favourite cheese?

officialPES6 karma

Thank you! I'm stoked about the t-shirt and glad you're looking forward to it. I never intended to be an animator, actually. I consider myself first and foremost an idea guy - animation is just a means to realizing my ideas. I was always an artist as a kid, so for me plan A was always just making a living as an artist. Favorite cheese? Stinky tube socks.

wysilv6 karma

What is your favorite movie, and who is your favorite director?

officialPES12 karma

I love the Wizard of Oz. I grew up in a family where my father could do the entire Wicked Witch monologue( "I'll get you my pretty!") and my uncle looks exactly like Bert Lahr and would break out every Thanksgiving with an impersonation of the Cowardly Lion. I love children's movies that are a little scary. I don't believe that everything has to be sanitized for little people.

GeneralJohnnyRico6 karma

The Nightmare before Christmas is still one of my favorite movies of all time. Have you ever had the opportunity to work with Tim Burton?

I find stop motion animation fascinating, how do you find the patience to film?

officialPES13 karma

I met Tim at the Oscar nominees luncheon this last year, and we got to talking, he seems like a great guy. And as it turns out, we share an attorney. Actually, I don't consider myself a very patient person in general -- I'm not like one of those super low blood pressure people. I think I just store up all my patience & put it in this one task.

stewartmcc3 karma

what about the Brothers Quay and all the other modern day masters? Is there a secret club where you guys all hang out?

officialPES3 karma

Ha. Actually I used to host an animation 'salon' at my apartment in Harlem. Animator friends would come over and I would cook a big pot of spaghetti and everyone would screen their new films or works-in-progress. The NYTimes even wrote a piece about it. Unfortunately, Svankmajer was a no-show. Here's a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/13/nyregion/thecity/13anim.html?fta=y&_r=0

stewartmcc6 karma

what kind of lights do you use? Incandescent? Fluorescent? How do you ensure that your lights aren't causing flicker problems?

officialPES3 karma

Just traditional tungsten film lights with a consistent power source. The flicker issue is really a camera issue that has been generally solved over the last 5 years with the new DSLRs.

mikeydonuts5 karma

When you're hunting on eBay what kind of searches do you setup or save? Is it as straightfoward as "Vintage sports equipment" or do you actually look for "Gloves that look like hot dogs"?

officialPES9 karma

That would be really great if eBay offered a filter that allowed me to search that way. My eBay watch list is a little absurd. I do get ideas from eBay, though. For example, I started off with the notion of boxing gloves & footballs being my deli meats, and in looking for vintage leather sporting equipment, I encountered hockey gloves and it struck me that they look like hot dogs, which are in most deli cases, so I picked them up. So in that particular case that idea came while I was looking for objects on eBay.

Jimmy_Melnarik5 karma

What info can you give on the Garbage Pail Kids Movie? Is it in development still, or has (pre)production started? How did you get involved in a GPK project?

officialPES6 karma

GPK is still in development, although we are considering making it a TV show. I met a producer in LA who was a fan of my work, and asked me to go home and think about what branded properties I might like to develop as a feature film. And this really isn't the normal way that I think, I typically come up with my own ideas, I don't necessarily, you know, just think about taking branded content and developing it. But it was an interesting question to me and I really didn't even have to think, I just pulled my GPK off the shelf - I had my book from when I was a kid, and there are so many characters in there, and the artwork and the ideas are still relevant today, and I think they're still super-cool, so I told the producer "Let's go after Garbage Pail Kids." And I never thought - this is an icon from my youth, this is, you know, what every teacher kind of like banned from their school rooms, it's just one of those cool properties that I grew up with. And so I didn't expect anything to come of it, I thought someone else was already developing it. And as it turns out the rights to GPK were owned by Michael Eisner, the ex-Disney CEO, so I put together a story & a pitch with a writer, and we pitched Eisner himself, and he loved the ideas and we quickly went into development!

mikeydonuts4 karma

How do you feel about Ira Glass' advice that it's your taste that makes you a good creator. You have to make volumes of crap before your talent catches up to your taste. Do you have short films of shitty stop motion that nobody will ever see back from when you were learning?

Ira Glass source: http://vimeo.com/85040589

officialPES3 karma

I don't. My films have certainly become more refined over time, but I feel like you can make a good film the first time around if you have a facility for the medium and the right idea to go with it. For me, that was Roof Sex.

HyperbolicInvective4 karma

What/where are your favorite flea markets?

officialPES4 karma

I like the Long Beach flea market. Third Sunday of every month at Veteran's stadium in Long Beach. You really can't cover this flea market in one day, it's that big.

kd7tck3 karma

How hard is it to film a short in stop motion? I was thinking about doing a one minute claymation video with some friends.

officialPES4 karma

It's a small but very deep hole...good luck.

gearboxjoe3 karma

How long does it take you to make each film?

officialPES7 karma

Well Fresh Guacamole took me about 4 months of production (to make a 1 minute 40 second film). And because those are my hands in the film, it's really only possible for me to do one shot per day because it can take 3-9 hours to do each shot. But that's different than when I work on commercials - I may oversee 3 different animators shooting on 3 different sets so we get a lot more footage that way. But with these particular films where it has to be my hands in every shot, there's really no way of shooting more than one shot at a time. I would say all my films, what's interesting about it is that even though 4 months sounds like a long time, it's really not that long compared to how long I've been thinking about an idea or working on those ideas in preparation to shoot. I always view shooting as the very last step one needs to go through to make an idea a reality. But I've spent countless hours working on ideas & testing them out on people, trying to make things as simple and as clearly as possible. Somehow I'm always obsessed with telling my films in the least amount of shots possible, for some reason. I don't like adding shots, for me it's whittling down an idea to the shortest it can possibly be and still be effective.

santigwar3 karma

I just watched all your animated vids some hours ago, they're awesome.

What's your favorite song recently?

officialPES2 karma

Thank you! Appreciate that. Not exactly my favorite song, but recently I play "Lotion" as I drive my 4-year-old to preschool...I haven't gotten tired yet of hearing him sing "Put the lotion in the @#$%^ basket or it gets the hose again!"

dildobriefcase3 karma

Hi PES! Huge fan, fellow stop motion animator here. Any advice for someone new to the industry? How did you get started?

officialPES5 karma

I would just say, first and foremost, you know, just take something that makes you laugh or an idea you really like and focus on bringing that to life and using that as a starting point. I like to say please yourself first, don't think about what other people are going to think. Make yourself laugh. I got started by doing tests with doll furniture on my dining room table. (you can see some of this footage in The Making of Roof Sex on my website)

meestal3 karma

Cool that you made the new intro of Het Klokhuis, that was my favourite TV-show as a kid!

Do you always make a script which you follow exactly for your short films, or can it occur that something is not how you wanted you have to change the script during filming?

officialPES3 karma

For all my films I'll do an animatic, whether it's a rough stop-motion animatic, an illustrated animatic, or a CGI animatic. That said, one of the reasons I do an animatic is to free myself to be a little spontaneous and creative during the shoot. Knowing the general structure helps.

waffletoast3 karma


officialPES5 karma

Start small. Even a ten-second idea can be powerful.

pesmanus3 karma

I read somewhere that you used to be an excellent soccer player, will you be featuring any of your old equipment in Submarine Sandwich? Possibly your old Copa Mundials or some sweaty shinguards?

officialPES3 karma

I've been looking for vintage athletic equipment that's a lot older than my equipment could have been. But sweaty shinguards do sound delicious... thanks for asking!

olookatree3 karma

You mentioned starting out in a bachelor pad in NYC... where are you based these days? Do you live in one city or do you travel around?

officialPES6 karma

I'm based in Santa Monica, and I have a studio in Inglewood.

toomanylayers3 karma

Fellow stop motion animator, you've been a huge inspiration! I really appreciate how satisfying you can make something as simple as squishing tomatoes or cutting a pepper. I feel like sound plays a major role in that satisfying feeling. Do you record your own audio? How much time would you say you spend working on the audio?

Your animation is always so clean and natural feeling, a good balance of exaggeration and subtle finesse. Your hand pixelations in particular are amazing. Is it all stop motion, or some of it video? Do you use rigs in your work?

Thanks for doing the AMA. I can't wait for Submarine Sandwich!

officialPES2 karma

Thank you! I'm glad you find the sounds satisfying. The films are all animated, no video at all. I do use rigs, although not for my hands. For Fresh Guacamole and Western Spaghetti (and, now, Submarine Sandwich) I stand motionless for 3-9 hours at a time, moving my hands slightly.

HyperbolicInvective3 karma

As a creator who spends months on a single project, what is your opinion of YouTube - a platform that is free-to-view?

officialPES4 karma

I've always believed in sharing my work for free and have been fortunate to find ways to get my films financed to make that possible. I think it's wonderful that millions of people can see something I've made.

redmarcou3 karma

Since you have rounded up a bunch of your devoted fans through Kickstarter you might have a new source of materials - I know I would love to donate an item that would be used in your movies. Would you consider asking fans for items?

officialPES3 karma

Sure! do you have a 100 year-old-deli case I can borrow?

WonderBoy553 karma

Are you familiar with ASMR or Frission? Your videos are quite popular in both communities.

officialPES4 karma

Yes, I hear that - thank you ASMR and Frission!

tonytony_chopper3 karma

Hi PES! First of all: Love your works! You were nominated for Oscar (I think you should win btw). How was the experience? And what did you feel when you heard your work was nominated? Thanks!

officialPES6 karma

Thanks! You know, it was a great honor to be nominated, first because my film was very different than the typical film that gets nominated by the Academy. It has no characters, it has no story, it has no emotional content - it was shorter than any other film that was nominated, so it really was a totally unexpected thing to get nominated. But i was really honored by that, because I felt on some level the Academy was widening the type of film they want to recognize. So I took it as a great compliment.

toronto343 karma

What has been the hardest item to animate?

officialPES3 karma

The shot in Fresh Guacamole where I slice into the grenade was tricky. I shot that FOUR times to get it right. There's a very specific wrist motion, where both wrists are moving independently - almost rolling the knife around the pit - that turned out to be quite a challenge to perfect. Plus I had to stand there for like, 9 hours straight without moving from one position.

EmCdeltaT3 karma

Hi PES! Just looked and you share a birthday with me! What is the best thing about having a birthday in late May?

officialPES7 karma


Well, I love being a Gemini. Two people always fighting about how to move objects around.

gigabyte8982 karma

Hey, I'm a huge fan of your work! What equipment/software do you use to make your films? Do you use a DSLR and after effects, or something different?

officialPES2 karma

Thank you! I use the Nikon D810, Nikon prime lenses, Dragonframe stop-motion image capture software, Final Cut for edit (though I will probably make the switch to Premiere soon).

pomod2 karma

Do you know the work of Thomas Demand? His stop motion animation of Pacific Sun is pretty epic

officialPES1 karma

yeah, I've seen that piece. It's cool.

mrjack922 karma

How do you achieve the cutting of the golfballs and grenades? Very nice work. First time seeing any of your videos.

officialPES1 karma

Thanks so much. The golfball was a real golfball and was cut with a bandsaw to allow the knife to appear to slice through it. The grenade was a fabricated model with two halves.

ManU_Fan10ne2 karma

How do you feel about PES (the video game)?

Hint: correct answer is Fifa.

officialPES2 karma

I used to play that game when the series was called Winning Eleven in the US. This was back in '05 and '06. It was an incredible soccer sim, the best on the market. Then hilariously when they renamed it PES for the US market is when it started going downhill and I dumped it. Now I play EA hockey.

christoscamaro2 karma

You do awesome work! Besides Jan Svankmajer, do you have any recommendations for other stop motion artists to watch?

officialPES3 karma

For me it's more of a film by film thing. For instance, I recently discovered this stop-motion treasure from 1975 lurking in the NFB archives. Genius. http://www.nfb.ca/film/monsieur_pointu_en/

chrherr1 karma

Are you in need of any local help for your next project? I saw that you're trying to to put together a BTS crew for "Submarine Sandwich." I'm a long time fan and would love to help with that endeavor!

officialPES1 karma

thanks! Yes, always looking for good people. Please reach out to my producer Sarah through my website.

Frajer1 karma

What do you do with your Oscar?

officialPES9 karma

I didn't win an Oscar, actually. I looked at it, then watched it walk off the stage with someone else. Fresh Guacamole was only nominated, so I didn't actually get a statue.

coolplate1 karma

I think your works are brilliant and very creative. Any tips on creativity?

officialPES3 karma

Thanks so much! As far as creativity, I'd recommend to anyone to get into the habit of writing stuff down when an idea or thought strikes you. Before it disappears into thin air and you can't recall it. Also, I try not to judge the ideas as they come in, in fact I would say it can even be detrimental to call most of them 'ideas'. They're just thoughts, little observations, snippets of overheard conversations, something funny that happened, 'what if' moments that waft by on a breeze - write them all down. In my experience this gets you more in tune with he workings of your own brain and you begin to see patterns, reoccurring themes or points of interest.

SeafoodNoodles1 karma

I've made poor to mediocre animated shorts in school and on my own before. But I feel like the next two I'm working to finish are "festival quality" for lack of a better term. I feel like there's good drawing, a funny story, and a satisfying conclusion in both.

I work on them after my day job. How do I turn my animated shorts into a career? Send them to animation studios? Submit them to festivals? Try and pitch one of them as a pilot somewhere? Post them on youtube?

Thanks in advance.

officialPES2 karma

Focus on creating original, compelling content before anything else. Then, get it out there any way you can.