Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 29, 2012.

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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!

A few of the extensive set of storyboards for the film
A few of the extensive set of storyboards for the film

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!

That's me on the left and Erik (right). We have puppeteered the Melonpool puppets since 1994.
That's me on the left and Erik (right). We have puppeteered the Melonpool puppets since 1994.

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!

Why Puppets?

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) 

The schematics which will be used to build the filming miniature of the Steel Duck
The schematics which will be used to build the filming miniature of the Steel Duck

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) 

Concept art for our largest set, the Engine Room
Concept art for our largest set, the Engine Room

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!

Stay up-to-date on Melonpool on our Facebook Fan Page
Stay up-to-date on Melonpool on our Facebook Fan Page
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Twitter
Join our circle of fun on Google+
Join our circle of fun on Google+

FAQ

  • 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.

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    13 backers

    Get a special thanks on the Melonpool Web site – and a good feeling inside!

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    9 backers

    You get your name on the Web site AND a special thanks in the film's credit – plus that great feeling inside!

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    3 backers

    For kids of all ages, an exclusive, downloadable, 8-page read along adventure with the Melonpool crew illustrated by Steve Troop. You will receive a PDF you can print on your own, as well as a downloadable audio track featuring the voice actors from the film.

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    21 backers

    By popular demand -- a stripped-down movie-only version of the finished film. It's the same great movie in HD that's available for the $50 perk, but without the commentaries, bonus features and signatures. This option is for people who may be on a budget but still want to help make this movie or people that never watch extra content on their DVDs.

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    Early Bird Special! Act now and save some bucks! Get your signed DVD copy of "Melonpool: The Motion Picture," once the film is complete. Your copy will be lovingly autographed by creator Steve Troop and director Jon Stout. International shipping extra.

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    13 backers

    A signed DVD copy of "Melonpool: The Motion Picture," once the film is complete. Your copy will be lovingly autographed by creator Steve Troop and director Jon Stout. International shipping extra.

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    8 backers

    A signed copy of "The Ultimate Melonpool VI" Comic Book Collection (approx. 220 pages), finally bringing the last installment of the "Melonpool" comic series to book form – you can't get this book anywhere else. International shipping extra.

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    3 backers

    Get a DVD of 10 tips for making great television-style puppets. Get great, insider tips from B.J. Guyer, Steve Troop and others on how to build easy-to-manipulate, great looking puppets that let you get the very best performances out of your fingers. International shipping extra.

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    10 backers

    By popular demand! Combo pack of BOTH the Deluxe DVD ($50 pledge) and Melonpool VI ($60 pledge). Book will be shipped in time for Christmas. DVD will be shipped as soon as it's available. International shipping, add $5.

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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    Get a custom video greeting from the cast of "Melonpool" aboard the bridge of the Steel Duck. A short message that is perfect for birthdays, Comic Cons, parties or fellow puppeteers!

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    Need advice designing that puppet? Building that spaceship set? Get a one-hour private phone consultation, and follow-up emails, with Steve Troop on some of the inside tricks for building and designing puppets and the sets where they live.

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    Space Puppet Boot Camp: A one-day puppetry workshop, created exclusively for this Kickstarter campaign, with renowned puppeteer B.J. Guyer (Crank Yankers) and Steve Troop. Learn the performance tricks that bring puppets to life in this exclusive workshop of hands-on training. Participants are required to provide their own transportation and lodging in the greater Los Angeles area. Lunch provided!

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    Get one of the throw around stunt puppets used in the film — suitable for throwing around or blaming things on. Each puppet is hand-built and will be used during the filming of Melonpool: The Motion Picture. For private display only. No commercial use allowed.

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    1 backer Limited (3 left of 4)

    Be a VIP guest with exclusive access to the set during the filming of "Melonpool: The Motion Picture." Meet the cast and crew, including Steve Troop and director Jon Stout, and witness the magic of filming a portion of the movie. Eat like the crew with a take-out lunch and enjoy being a part of the filmmaking — we might even ask you to hold a cable! We will also provide a special, featured thank you in the film's end credits, as well as a DVD, Puppets in Space T-shirt and copy of the Making of Book. Our VIPs are required to provide their own transportation and lodging in the greater Los Angeles area.

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    Ready to be a Hollywood mogul? Support the film at this level and you will gain a producer credit on "Melonpool: The Motion Picture," as well as a VIP visit to the set, a DVD, T-shirt and Making of Book. Yes, even Hollywood moguls are required to provide their own transportation and lodging in the greater Los Angeles area.

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