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Work / Animation

Foster Huntington’s stop-motion short of an 80s Californian skate off

Foster Huntington’s short Pool Scum is a stop-motion animation set in southern California in the mid ’80s. It’s set up and shot like an old Western showdown, but instead of shoot outs, the film shows a skate off. “I grew up watching movies like Rad, Thrashin’ and North Shore – they are classic Romeo and Julliet films set against the back drop of a cheesy ’80s action sport,” says Foster. “They are totally ridiculous and I wanted Pool Scum to have some of that.”

The short plays on the familiar tropes of classic skate films through the camera angles and set ups, yet the stop-motion format makes it feel fresh, as well as adding humour. While there’s little dialogue within the animation, a real sense of character is created through the mannerisms and wardrobe of the puppets combined with the set design, which was all created in-house.

Pool Scum was made as part of Foster’s latest venture, Movie Mountain – a special effects and stop motion studio located on a mountain top in Washington State. The animation is set to be the first of many projects to come for Foster as part of Movie Mountain, where the creative has been able to utilise the advantages of having a studio space. Previously a designer at Ralph Lauren up until 2011, Foster has led a fairly nomadic life, living on the road and has developed his creative practice to encompass many things.

“In the past my situation has heavily influenced my style. When I was living in a van, surfing all the time, my photography reflected the people I was travelling with. When I was building a tree house, my photography and videos documented this process,” says Foster. “Now that I have a studio, it’s the first time I feel like I can create anything and bring it to life. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to make a world and share it with people. Although it’s really small and low budget, there’s still so many things you can do.”

In terms of creative process, Foster took the lead on creating mood boards and storyboarding using found footage. “I did boards for the main characters, the set, the pool and the skating,” says Foster. “With that in hand, Matt Emmons and Kai Korsmo started designing the set, building out the world. Tim Huntington worked on building out the plants and shrubs. Alexa Schreck did a great job with all of the wardrobe and building props as well.”

The film was shot at 24 frames per second allowing the skate action to play out smoothly on screen. “We shot on a motion control machine, this is how we achieved camera moves in combination with stop motion animation. For lighting we used Arri LED lights so that we could control colour temperature and fade for green screen passes and such,” explains Foster.

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Foster Huntington: Pool Scum (still)

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Foster Huntington: Pool Scum (still)

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Foster Huntington: Pool Scum (still)

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Foster Huntington: Pool Scum (still)