Nowheres Wolf: A Call Not Answered
Using the magic of stop-motion animation, our film aims to change the way we think about wolves. By showing the vulnerable, sentient and caring family side of the wolf, we can overcome fear with understanding. We are also developing and sharing non-toxic fabrication methods for artists and makers.
Inclusion StatementOur crew, primarily women, is actively encouraged to share their creative voice in the development of this project. Stop-motion veterans are working alongside new grads and talent in various disciplines, swapping ideas and skills and addressing the serious health issues that all artists are facing.
About The Project
Our first independently-made stop-motion short film
Nowheres Wolf: A Call Not Answered is inspired by the life of Oregon’s famous wolf named Journey, aka OR-7. Journey’s story is an uplifting and relatable narrative of yearning to belong and of connecting with family. The film is designed in my unique textile sculptural style in combination with stop-motion craft in order to make learning about wolves fun and accessible to all – especially families and children.
Overcoming fear with respect and understanding
In researching for this film we discovered that even our own views and long held fears of the wolf were seated in myth and legend. Fairytales and most Hollywood depictions of wolves have been based on sick animals infected with rabies back in the Dark Ages - when both humans and animals faced plagues of epic proportions! The truth is that real and healthy wolf behavior is more loyal, devoted to family and sharing than nearly all domestic dog breeds. This is the shift in perceptions of the wolf that we are hoping to begin to create with our short film.
Our mission is to help wolves and encourage people to learn more about real wolves, challenge their preconceptions and use our film to point toward great science-based programs about wolves. This is a fun way to learn how coexisting with wolves can benefit everyone, from increasing tourism dollars to restoring balance to damaged ecosystems. We are just beginning to discover the key role wolves play in managing our natural resources, including the rivers of freshwater we all depend on.
Stop-Motion Animation Experience
I worked for over ten years in the stop-motion feature film industry, managing departments and helping to create characters for films including Coraline, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, and The Shadow King, as well as make puppet parts for independent films such as Henrietta Bulkowski and Mermaids on Mars. Here's an interview with me about my work on Coraline.
Throughout this experience, I realized that I really wanted to use my talents as a puppet fabricator and wildlife artist to help bring attention to the key issues which threaten wildlife and especially the future of wolves. Over the last five years I’ve followed the efforts of various organizations to save the North American Grey Wolf from extinction. I discovered that the plight of the wolf is not just a story of endangered wildlife, but a story of extreme prejudice based on myths. I realized that pop culture has perpetuated the villainization of the wolf and harmed its chances of survival. I became aware of wolf OR-7’s journey when he first entered California, and have been excited about the return of wolves to our region.
Your Contributions make it possible for us to create a high quality animation independent of corporate studios!
You are contributing to our artistic freedom!
Artists and Makers
I saw an opportunity to make a project with my friends and colleagues from the stop-motion film industry and other disciplines to create a new, positive image of the wolf. Myself and all of the collaborating artists involved are passionate about this project because wolves and the wildness they represent inspire our art and recharge our spirits. In early 2018 we came together and started working to make the Nowheres Wolf film project to come to life!
Our Animation Director and Team
Our team includes Suzanne Twining, our Lead Animator and an award-winning filmmaker; Leila Chieko, an award-winning editor; Jorge Martinez, a visual effects artist and cinematographer; Sarah Chellis, puppet armaturist and our web designer; many fabricators; and Dave Wirth, an original music composer. Pre-production began in May 2018, including concept art by Jordy Farrell, character design, script development, character sculpts, storyboards, and animatic. We’ve built all of the main puppets and a portion of the sets. We have completed nearly four scenes out of eight. However, the most technically difficult and gear heavy scenes are still to come, and that's why your support is crucial for us to be able to complete this film!
A Healthier Way
The goal of this project is twofold. I have always felt that social and environmental justice go hand in hand. Behind the scenes, we seek to support healthier practices for artists. Portland, which is now my home, has grown to be the world center for stop-motion animation, drawing talent from all over the globe. Since stop-motion animation studios are basically both film studios and industrial factories, the health and safety of their employees ought to be a major concern. Nevertheless, many people don’t realize just how toxic some glues, paints and cast materials are when used everyday to make miniatures. Myself and many of my female colleagues have faced chronic pain, organ dysfunctions, and having to choose between ongoing severe pain or having a hysterectomy due to exposure to industry-standard chemicals. This film project is a platform to help change these misconceptions, share knowledge and spread awareness about material safety and the chronic exposure issues that many artists face around the world. Through the course of this film’s production I’ve focused on developing non-toxic alternative materials and processes, and implementing intensive recycling/repurposing. My aim is to prove that these alternatives can work, be economical, and create a safer work environment.
Future Goals in Filmmaking
My hope is that this project will lead to the creation of our own artist-run film studio with these guiding values: 1) Foster a supportive community of artists working together to transform their ideas into films; 2) Treat talent as an investment, not a commodity; 3) Sustain a business model where artists are the owners and earn income from their own content and intellectual property; 4) Make stop-motion and puppetry films using environmentally-conscious methods and materials that are healthier for the artists and which reduce chronic exposure to toxic chemicals and processes.
Your support helps us to create a portfolio of our own intellectual property at the high quality we wish to strive for as artists!
Join our journey and help everyone find room in their hearts to embrace coexistence, and be proud to say, “Now Here’s Wolf!”
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About This Team
Many super talented colleagues and friends have contributed greatly to the artistry of this film. Our crew grows and shrinks as some people have limited time to contribute while new faces occasionally come on to help. Here are the bios of our core team.
Suzanne Moulton, Director, Lead Fabricator and Workshop Presenter
She has dedicated her life to awareness for wildlife through her art and educational craft workshops. Her “Birds of the Elliott” campaign which partnered with The Audubon Society of Portland and the Coos Art Museum last year successfully activated hundreds of people to follow and protect old growth forest and endangered wildlife in the state of Oregon. She has over 10 years experience working on stop-motion feature films such as Coraline, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and numerous commercials and independent short films.
Suzanne Twinning, Animation Director and Lead Animator
Suzanne has animated on feature films Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, and TV shows such as Tumble Leaf, Phantom Investigators, Robot Chicken, The PJs, and Celebrity Death Match. She has also won several awards for her independent films Put On A Happy Face and Terminator Tomatoes, appearing in over 60 environmental film festivals worldwide.
Jorge Martinez, Cinematographer and Visual Effects Artist
Jorge was the backbone at a video production studio with duties extending beyond his official title as Lead Editor and Compositor, to include lighting, videography and audio production. He played key VFX roles on the stop-motion productions: Auntie Claus promo short and the award winning Mermaids on Mars for which Jorge even animated on a few shots. Mermaids on Mars appeared in over 20 film festivals worldwide.
Leila Chieko, Editor and Behind-the-Scenes
New to the film making scene, her first film festival, she won “Best Short Film” at the the Oregon Documentary Film Festival 2018, for her documentary The World of Snowhorse Animation. Leila has a special interest in Stop-motion animation and the toy photography world community having developed an 11k following on instagram @brickandmordor.
Dave Wirth, Composer of Original Music Score
Dave has a Masters in Performance, Literature and Classical Guitar from The Eastman School of Music. He has over 15 years of experience as a composer, including orchestrating and conducting both chamber and orchestral music. Dave’s music has been praised by music reviewers as making “the tiny hairs on your neck stand up,” (Glitter and Stilettos) and “Blessed with an innate gift to articulate thoughts, feelings, and emotions through sound, his talent for creating the perfect atmosphere is as clever and insightful as it is highly skilled and passionately performed” (Sleeping Bag Studios).