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These are some of the many props we've built for our Just Go Out With Me Project.

Yesterday was a long day of work on the video for Just Go Out With Me. We've been working on the video for many months now. The planning stages took what seemed like forever—storyboarding, research, sketches, and so on. Now we're well into the practical part. For this project it means LOTS of set building. Since we've set the short movie in a gypsy circus circa 1910, well, there's an almost endless list of sets to build. I mean, you can't just go to the store and buy this stuff. We had to make our stage, our moonscape, our gorilla cage, our puppet theater, and every other set that'll appear during our short, spectacular musical.

It's definitely exciting. But, it feels like I've been building these sets for a lifetime.

But, yesterday was the day when I finally felt like I could really see the end in sight.

We didn't have that big of a crew show up. We only had two extras to help build things. But, they sure did a lot. One was Janet, Sunshine's girlfriend. The other was Kate, a colleague of mine from the art center where I teach digital photography.

Kate was a perfect addition to our crew because she's actually talented—she's a professional painter. (Thank god. We needed some actual skilled labor. I sure wasn't cutting the mustard in the painting department.)

It was so nice to have another painter on crew, since we have so many sets still to be painted. Kate and Sunshine painted all day and into the evening and almost finished all the detailing on our gigantic 20' X 8' moonscape. The moonscape will be behind me in the video during the scene when I fly off to outer space on the rocket ship.

Scenes from the storyboards for Just Go Out With Me.

We long since depleted our paltry budget to make this short film. But, somehow we keep finding enough nickels and dimes to work on it again—one day at a time. And, Sunshine is really crafty about finding extra wood in dumpsters and so on. I can't wait to get to the point in our careers where we don't have to scavenge and beg for volunteers just to make our projects happen. Please let it be soon! I'm tired of painting sets!

We attached five framed pieces of plywood together to make a giant moonscape backdrop. It's giant. It's heavy. And, for the first time it actually looks like a moon! We only have one of the five panels left to paint. Then we'll cut holes in the craters for the puppets and it'll be complete!

Kim worked with us on a few of our work weekends. She used the grinder to grind metal edges off the bodies of the rockets before they were detailed. Doesn't this look fun? Don't you want to come to Oakland and come help?

One of the biggest victories of the day was when Janet and I assembled the rocketship. Sunshine and I and our other helpers had already built seven other rocketships. Those are the ones that'll stand behind me on the stage during one of the scenes. (Puppets will burst out of them and sing along with me!) But, those were two-dimensional and relatively easy to create. Today we finished the daunting three-dimensional rocket. This is the one that me and the co-star will actually sit on at the end of the film. And, Sunshine will animate it to fly us off into the giant moonscape!

This frame will eventually be covered with sheets of tin and decorated with rivets and a porthole for a puppet to look out of!

It was complicated to make. There were tons of practical issues to consider. First of all, it had to look like a 1920's era rocket. Sunshine did considerable research to find out which shape would be best for his artistic vision. Next, our rocket had to support the weight of two people without falling over or bowing. It also had to have room in the structure for puppeteers to be able to put their hands through it and activate puppets. (A puppet sticks his head out of the rocket and into a pie in one scene.)

We pulled it off! By the end of the day we had the framework for the rocketship! This was hands down the most exciting day of the project so far. I'm starting to see that this is really going to happen. We only have a few more sets to finish up, and then it's time to start casting and planning the filming!

For more information about the Just Go Out With Me Project, please visit Sunshine's web page. And, don't forget to watch the animated storyboard—yes, me as a cartoon character!

Hooray for power tools!