Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 2, 2012.


A self contained movie studio that will have you calling action and directing your own movie in minutes....


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The Tabletop Moviemaking Studio is an all-in-one kit that will have you making movies in minutes with your smart phone or tablet!  It contains everything you need to get started.  The box has been engineered to snap into a theater. Tabletop Moviemaking promotes hands-on, tactile play; spatial learning; and collaborative creation. The Tabletop Moviemaking Studio invites a new form of interaction with your smart phone/tablet and the physical world. However, it works pretty well without any kind of device, as a means of engaging creative play and storytelling. And when you're done, it all folds back into a box.

I developed the Tabletop Moviemaking method 7 years ago while on a Fulbright research grant in Ireland. I've been iterating the method with countless groups and students since, and the Tabletop Moviemaking Studio here represents all the lessons learned. It is the best kit I've made, and I am super excited to share it with you. Whether you use it with your device or on its own, it promotes hands-on, tactile play; spatial learning; and collaborative creation.


Tabletop Moviemaking Studio

The Tabletop Moviemaking Studio assembled into a theater

3 LED light kits unassembled

3 LED light kits assembled

Tabletop Moviemaking Poster*

*This is the prototype poster, the final poster will vary in layout and content.

iPhone framing the scene in the smart phone stand

iPad 2 framing the action in the tablet stand


Well, you! But more specifically, after years of working with 1000's of moviemakers ranging from 6 - 60, I have found Tabletop Moviemaking to be brilliant with the following age ranges:

  • 9 years old and under - These pint sized moviemakers will have no trouble with ad-libbing a story that is pouring out of their imagination. The filming tends to be guided by an adult.
  • 9 - 14 years old - This is the target age range the narrative writing resources I developed. They will learn how to translate the written word into a visual story while building their filmmaking skills.
  • 15 - 18 years old - High school age moviemakers take on more advanced adaptations of short stories, historical events or realize more ambitious original works.
  • Adults of any age - I have found that when I train teachers how to deliver this in the classroom, they are having just as much fun as their students; sometimes more.


Tabletop Moviemaking has hours and hours of online video tutorials to support you through the process at   From camera framing tips to splitting clips in iMovie on an iPad to basic watercolor techniques, you'll find what you need.  All the digital resources are free and always will be.  

1. Shooting a scene: split it up into smaller shots

 2. Split a clip in iMovie for iOS devices

3. Using watercolor to color a scene


The Tabletop Moviemaking method draws on the history of toy theater  that began during the Victorian period. Well-known 20th century enthusiasts include Pablo Piccaso and filmmakers Orson Wells and Igmar Bergman. Irish playwright W.B. Yeats would use miniature sets to test out the staging of some of his works.  Salvador Dali created "The Little Theater," which is at MOMA in NY.  Its size and scale bear remarkable resemblance to toy theaters, albeit with Dali's wonderful twist on it. Tabletop Moviemaking is embedded with a rich historical precedent for creative play and storytelling.  It preserves the core elements of toy theater while leveraging new technologies combined with moviemaking techniques to create short films.  

These are two of my favorite books on filmmaking and cinema. I find their titles both poetic and applicable to Tabletop Moviemaking.  The light kits I've developed will allow you to play with light, shadow, form, volume and texture on a small scale.  Tarkovsky's book goes into great detail about the importance of constructing scenes and how they shape the film.  Quite literally, this is what you'll do to create a scene in the Tabletop Studio.  


Here are a couple past contexts where the Tabletop Moviemaking method was used. As the technology has evolved, so has the kit.  From traditional video cameras to smart phones and tablets, you can see the kit's evolution in these videos.

Collaboration with Young Storytellers Foundation, Creative Artists Agency and Tom Bradley Center

In partnership with 826LA, I was an artist in residence for a year with the LA Opera and had a chance work with high schoolers in adapting themes from opera into tabletop movies.

Sample Tabletop Movies

Pickle Portal - Two intrepid pickles embark on a journey through time and space only to find home is where the heart is. 

Jimmy the Clown - He's the hardest working town. 

The Love Story -   A touching tale of an unrequited crush, and the importance of patience.


I will use the funds raised through Kickstarter to send the prototype box into production.  It will cover upfront costs for building a custom dieboard to create this unique box, printing plates and the initial minimum order. The funds will allow me to print the initial run of the 19x27 inch poster on a 4 color offset press. I will also bulk purchase all the components that go into the light kits and paper materials. The Tabletop Moviemaking Studio kit is made in LA.


I am working with Los Angeles-based box-and-poster manufacturers that have years of expertise. We have taken the kit through many iterations, and the design is locked down and ready for production.  The result is a professional well-built product that can be produced at scale.  I have years of experience managing an online store and fulfilling orders, so I have all the systems in place to process and ship orders.


Music credits:  Moby "Under", mBilly's approximation of a John Fahey song


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    I will send you a custom made Tabletop movie thanking you for your support.

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    1 LED lightkit with stands and integrated sliding 3 color gel system. Domestic shipping included. International add $8.

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    3 Pack LED lightkit with stands and integrated sliding 3 color gel system. Domestic shipping included. International add $10.

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    Tabletop Moviemaking Studio that assembles into a theater and comes with 3 LED lights, 3 color gels (red, green, blue), smartphone and tablet stands, background clips and scenery holders. Full color 27 x 19 inch poster with settings, characters and props. Quick start guidebook to get you up and running. Domestic shipping included. International add $20.

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    FIVE complete Tabletop Moviemaking Studio kits. This is a great bundle for educators who would like to bring Tabletop Moviemaking into the classroom. Domestic shipping included. International add $55.

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