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Sunday, June 29, 2008

A VISIT WITH JOHN DODS

I recently had the pleasure of visiting with SPFX Artist and Stop Motion Legend John Dods. A man who's many years of experience in the world of creature creation has included all aspects of the hand crafted creature production for television, film and the stage.

He has brought his style to all his creations in the forms of prosthetic make-up, live action creature puppets and our beloved Stop Motion Animation. Over the years of his rewarding career his work has taken him in many directions, from supervising the miniature landscape construction of an enormous Ice Crevasse in the Back to the Future Ride for the Universal Studios Theme Park to the prosthetic make up currently being done for Young Frankenstein on Broadway.

I first came to know Mr.Dods from his written articles for Cinemagic Magazine back when he was primarily known for having created the special effects for the low budget sci-fi/horror film The Deadly Spawn and his own privately produced Stop Motion production of a film called Forest Story. I was just a fan and high school student at the time I was reading those articles, with dreams of one day learning to enter the world of stop motion and special effects. For me along with many other effects artists I have met over the years, Johns' name had become a quiet yet unforgettable star amongst those who influenced our budding dreams and careers and his rise to bigger and better projects through his career was inspiring to all who followed his rise to fame. From humble beginnings, he set the example that you can make it, if you work hard enough to reach your goals.

I got to know John personally when I was lucky enough to work for him on numerous episodes of the Laurel Ent. TV Show 'Monsters' as well as a number of other projects that were fun and I learned a lot from his experience and professionalism. Both of our careers seemed to take a similar path, onto bigger and better things but, further away from the one frame at a time art we love so well, Stop Motion.

Several years ago, I felt compelled to return to the art of Stop Motion because, no matter how many years and other types of effects I've done, I never lost the desire - I always felt that everything else I did was just a stepping stone on a path back home to Stop Motion Animation, which was all I ever really wanted to do in the first place.

It seems the road John Dods has been traveling has run a parallel course... on my recent visit with John, we spent hours recounting the years (we had not seen each other in better than a decade) and he remains the same cheerful, charming dreamer I met in the magazines all those years ago. And when he took me on a tour of his new digs and studio, what I saw there was a thrill... he had photos of the characters from his stop motion film Forest Story on a work bench, a collection of ball & socket armatures and a brand new sculpture he's been working on... of a Grog! He has given me permission to show this photo to my fellow Stop Mo Fans along with the disclaimer, that he's not fully up and running with this new Stop Motion project YET but, he is looking forward to the day when he can retire from his other obligations and settle back in to the forest and take each day, one frame at a time.

Please visit The John Dods Studio Website linked in the side bar - lots to see there!
Welcome home John!

2 comments:

idragosani said...

Yep, I remember his stuff in Cinemagic and other publications (like the Don Dohler magazines) way back when... yeah, high school for me, too. Cool stuff!

Ryan McCulloch said...

Interestingly enough, this brings me back to my freshmen year of high school when my film teacher showed me an old 80's Cinemagic and his Grogs were in it. I LOVED them and have thought about them constantly ever since but have not known how to find them on the internet (forgot how to spell their names). I NEVER would have guessed when I came to you're blog that you'd be talking about this. So how long has this film been in production? 20 years? When will it be finished so I can see it and finally die with this final loose end of my life tied up?

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Floral Park, N.Y., United States
I am an artist and animator with over 20 years experience in all areas of tactile image creation including film and Television.