Making a Monster / Step 1 : Design the Beast

I had the good fortune of working with Alex Pardee on a motion project. After spending a few days on-set  together, I was able to cajole him into coming to Two Dark for a personal portrait series. Alex had always wanted to be portrayed as a Jumanji style Monster Hunter wrangling horrid beasts, so he did a quick sketch one evening and we were off and running.

Alex Pardee is tall, so I needed to create a monster that would be bigger than he was to feel adequately intimidating. It also needed to be light enough for his 6′+ tall friend, Alexander Tarrant to comfortably wear for a few hours at a time. I turned to a pro-puppet maker Jesse “Roadkill” Wilson. I sent her a pathetic little sketch of a stick man…

and she sent back detailed drawings worthy of framing. Her key suggestion was to use an aluminum backpack frame that would support a 1/4” Luan wood structure. (Luan is a kind of specialty plywood.) The Luan was cut into ‘ribs’ that created the frame.  The main rib was secured to the alluminum back back frame with bolts, while the remaining ribs were securely screwed into wedges that were placed as spacers. All of the rib frame pieces were firmly held together with a notch system. Which was three separate strips of wood that were hammered into narrow slits to create a strong, yet malleable spine.

Once the frame was created the entire thing was covered in chicken wire. This created an incredibly strong under structure that was very light weight and made it easy to secure the finishing materials.

COOL TRICK – the  mouth was operable and could be opened to a variety of widths. This was done by simply tying 100lb fishing line to an eye hook placed in the center of the lower jaw and running this line up to additonal eye hooks in the top jaw and along the back of the frame down to the operators hand.

Next up is Step 2 : Bones of the Beast. To read more about the creation of this monster, please connect with us on Patreon!