Monster Road DVD by Bright Eyed Pictures
- Sunday, 23 May 2010 15:26
- Last Updated on Monday, 16 May 2011 06:09
- Written by Marc Spess
Recently we got a message from Jim Haverkamp at Bright Eyed Pictures who co-produced the documentary film called Monster Road. He asked us if we would like to review a copy of the film, and of course I had to say yes. I met Bruce many years ago while I worked in Portland for Webster Colcord. Webster introduced me to Bruce and we picked up a few cars Bruce sculpted to use on some commercials. What I witnessed in Bruces garage space is something that I never expected people would ever see. But now that Jim Haverkamp and Brett Ingram have released this documentary, people can see some of Bruces amazing work first hand.
Monster Road is all about Bruce Bickford and how he became a clay animator. Most people at first glance would think that the film is about a Hollywood image of a person toiling away in a studio making beautiful hand made films. But in fact that is not the point of the film at all. The film shows Bruces life style, his beliefs and his thoughts about animation. The film also probes the minds of him and his father. Two people who are so distinctly different.
Bruce Bickford is probably one of the only full time obsessive compulsive clay animators in the world. Now I don't know if you can really call it obsessive compulsive, but that is the only way to describe his inhuman drive to make miniature clay figures and objects on such a massive scale. And then animate them.
The story covers the more human aspects of Bruce and his family, particularly his late father George Bickford. George was an engineer at Boeing in the mid 1950's and very goal oriented and bright. While Bruce was the exact opposite, and chose to pursue a more visual way of making a living through animation. How Bruce ended up the way he did was literally shaped by his family, dreams and early experiences as a young adult. Every part of the film is illustrated with images of Bruces early drawings, old family photos and films Bruce made when he got his first camera. Not to mention his later more refined and intricate work.
Some of the film is easy for clay and stop motion animators to relate to. You have your clay, your idea, a camera and a desire to animate your vision. On the other hand there is a lot more that is extremely difficult to relate to that makes this film so much fun to watch. Many people might think Bruce is a bit crazy to live the way he does. He seems so smart and talented, but seems to lack the business skills or understanding of what people enjoy in films. Almost like a mis-directed creative energy that stays hidden from view in spite of so many hours of labor to create his pieces.
He also seems a little crazy. The creepy glances, long hair, tattered clothing and his home in the secluded wooded area. Of course if you met him as I did, you would realize he is anything but crazy. Still he is a fun character in the film that makes you think.
|So the majority of the film revolves around all these big issues of life, death, God and why people make the choices they do. What is really so amazing is the animation clips from Bruce in the documentary are so unique, but you begin to understand the meaning and reasoning behind them. That's probably why Bright Eyed Pictures won an award for the best documentary at the Slamdance Film Festival.
On the DVD there is the documentary along with special features. They include the trailer, deleted scenes and some bonus animation. All in all the special features bulk things up to satisfy anyone who wants to see more of Bruces animation. Some of the animation can only be found on the Monster Road DVD making it that much more important if you like to collect animation. Chances are this DVD has the most unique stop motion you will find anywhere.
I highly recommend this documentary for people who want to get a glimpse into the human and artistic aspects of Bruce. I also recommend it to anyone collecting rare forms of animation and anyone who just likes a good documentary.
I don't recommend the documentary to anyone under 18, simply because there is a lot of sexual animation in both clay and 2-D drawn animation by Bruce. The documentary is really for adults anyway in my opinion. I also don't recommend the DVD to anyone expecting to see some shining example of the usual Hollywood animation, or a how-to kind of tutorial. That's simply not what the film is about.
To sum up the film I think it is very much worth the $20.00 price tag. Make sure to stop by the official web site for the film here.