We're filming a feature-length love letter to science fiction — with puppets!
Melonpool: The Motion Picture is a comedic homage to all things science fiction – with puppets. Based on my web comic series, this film follows the misadventures of a hapless crew of aliens on a space mission to rescue their missing crew member – as well as save the universe as we know it.
We’re Still Accepting Pledges -- New Stretch Goal!
Thanks to our Backers, we have exceeded our $3,500 goal — now it's lights, camera, action!
The positive response to "Puppets... From Space!" has been overwhelming, and as a result, we're really trying to reach our new stretch goal of $10,000 in the last few days of our campaign. We've decided that if we're able to make this goal, we will offer an upgrade of all of the people that have bought the Deluxe DVDs (The $50 Pledge, The $100 Combo Pledge as well as the $40 Early-Bird Pledge) to a Blu-Ray DVD.
Please scroll down to May the Funds be With You! for more details on how we plan to use these additional funds. We really want to take this film to the next level -- and with your help, the final product will be taken to the next level as well!
Tell Me About This Movie
Melonpool: The Motion Picture is a comic adventure in space. Hapless captain Mayberry Melonpool leads an unlikely crew — a mad scientist, a sassy medical doctor, a malfunctioning robot, a talking dog and a giant mutant hamster — on a series of disastrous missions that end with one crew member missing in action and the rest going their separate ways. Mayberry must reunite his reluctant crew to save his missing comrade and thwart an ominous enemy — all while trying to keep everyone from killing one another. And, of course, it will be filled with homages to science fiction and pop culture — a lot like my life!
How Are We Doing It?
Working with veteran puppet builder B.J. Guyer (Crank Yankers, Video Game Theater), we are rebuilding the entire cast so that we can have the most photogenic bunch of puppets ever seen aboard a space ship. The puppets we used in the trailer are eight years old (so they should have fallen apart three years ago), plus, their arms tend to fall off at the most inopportune moments!
Melonpool: The Motion Picture director Jon Stout (award-winning director and producer) and I are going old-school: no digital spaceships or sets. We feel that with puppetry, CGI and digital sets can just distract from the hand-made feel of the film. We think our fans will appreciate clever visual trickery with real-world models, built to scale and lovingly photographed. We're building eight original sets for the spaceship. The most complicated set, the bridge — where nearly half the film takes place — is nearly complete; but we still have seven simpler sets to go, as well as a model of the exterior of the space ship.
Click on the "See full bio" link in the upper right of this page to learn more about the filmmakers!
Puppets have been an important part of my life as long as I can remember. When I was four years old, my brother David was born and was named after a character from Sesame Street — at my insistence. I remember wanting a Kermit the Frog Playskool puppet for Christmas one year and being a little disappointed that Santa brought me the plush doll version instead – until I converted him into a marionette with a little kite string and a few Lincoln Logs.
As I grew up, drawing comics took center stage, but my passion for puppetry never waned. In 1994, my grandmother and I built the first Melonpool puppets for a short film. Puppeteered by friends I met in the 8th grade — the same friends who still puppeteer them to this day — the puppets found new life promoting the comic at conventions. I even met my wife puppeteering and she now puppeteers one of the characters as well.
At some point, I realized that I enjoyed puppetry more than drawing — and that led to making short videos for one of director Kevin Smith's websites. This, in turn, opened new doors designing puppets for Nike’s MVPuppets campaign, a Boost Mobile commercial and Country Music star Trace Adkin’s music video “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow,” among others.
I guess you could say puppets are my life.
I designed all of the puppets for the Trace Adkins music video (below), "Brown Chicken, Brown Cow." The puppets were built by BJ Guyer at the Puppet Shop.
I also designed most of the puppets for the second season of the Nike MVPuppets campaign for Nike (below), and I worked with the costumers to design all of their clothing. The puppets were built by Legacy Effects.
What is Melonpool?
I grew up a fan of the greatest television shows and movies ever made: The Muppet Show, Star Trek, Lost in Space, Star Wars, and, of course, Gilligan's Island. I took this vast knowledge of pop culture and poured it into my comic strip, Melonpool, which let me have fun with science fiction without making fun of science fiction — it was filled with time travel paradoxes, pop culture conundrums and giant mutant hamsters. Melonpool was one of the first online comics and it built up a dedicated audience who kept me inspired — and even shaped the course of some of the stories — during its nine-year run.
It's Not Easy Being Green
In addition to doing things as frugally as possible, we're also building just about everything from recycled found objects. Whether it's the miles of Ethernet cabling or styrofoam packing materials decorating the spaceship's hi-tech walls, or even the leftover foam and fleece used to build most of our puppets, a lot of stuff that would ordinarily end up in a landfill is finding a second life in our film.
★ ★ ★ May the Funds Be With You! ★ ★ ★
We're going to attempt light speed by trying to jump to a $10,000 goal — will you join us?
With your backing, here's what we can do:
I'm a Doctor, Not a Shipbuilder!
With your help, we have an opportunity to bring on a professional modelmaker to build and paint our signature spaceship: the Steel Duck. Steve Neill, who worked on Star Trek: The Motion Picture can bring that level of detail to our film — we know he’s better at building models than we are! And this is a win-win situation, because his fees will go toward caring for his wife as she battles cancer. (Cost: $4,200)
We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
The bridge set, as well as the rest of the sets we build, need to be elevated an additional two feet off the ground so that us puppeteers can work standing up, and not hunched over — freeing up both hands for puppeteering, instead of having to use one of them to hold themselves up! (Cost: $500)
Come on, Baby... Hold Together
Wood and paint costs money — as do props like the a giant hamster wheel which will power the ship, a mysterious space probe and even and special set rigging that will make our finale rival that of the latest Star Trek reboot (don’t worry – it’s not for lens flares)! (Cost: $1,500)
I'm Afraid I CAN Do That, Dave
Filming model spaceships is a whole different skillset that requires its own set of tools. Recently, we came across plans to build a simple (and affordable) motion control rig which will greatly enhance our space ship sequences by using the same techniques as the classic Star Wars and Star Trek films to photograph our models. (Cost: $300)
How Can You Help?
Everyone has committed to this project for free, out of their desire to create a spectacular, fun film! With your help, we can purchase the items we need to really take our film to the next level. Please be a part of our great adventure by helping to get these puppets into space!
No. Each one is independent. Everyone who donates gets their name on the website, but other than some of the larger rewards which combine a few of the items, they are all independent of one another. If you are interested in adding a few of the perks together, email us and we can work out a deal to get you what you want for an agreed-upon pledge.