Blood Puppets

2016 / 3 mins
toys, sacrifice

A ballet dancer, lacking the will to continue performing, sits alone in her house. The toys she has collected through the years feel her anguish and perform a ceremony that will restore her creative spirit. During the ceremony one of the toys is sacrificed so that its energy may be freed to enter the dancer. As the toy dies the dancer's spirit is renewed and she begins to perform again.


We made this short film as a music promo for Chuck Phipps, a musician and friend that has helped us on multiple projects. He is releasing a new album later this year called Hungry Ghosts [LP] and we can't wait to hear it!

We were initially expecting this to be a full music video. And even though John and I have never shot a music video, we are happy to make one for Chuck should he ask. He and his band, The Channels, have given us music on a number of our projects, including some crazy good tracks for Screaming Hell.

As it happened, this project coincided with us putting together a small project for the South Carolina Underground Film Festival. SCUFF is something that we always attend and always try submiting to. Instead of creating a music video that Chuck would have to find a venue for, we created this short film that could air at the festival. What fortuitous serendipity that they should come together like that.

The dancer in the video, Meredith Griffin, is actually a former professional dancer. She also happens to have a number of very cool dolls in her house. Splendid synchronicity. It all came together in a single day of shooting. Although we are not master puppeteers, we were able to work them enough, combined with some finicky editing, to pull off the illusion above.

Indeed, the hardest part was not the puppetry, but getting the video to have the old fashioned glow about it. There are plenty of editing plugins that give an aged-film appearance to video. But we didn't use those as they didn't quite look how we wanted. We played around with settings and layers until we found the right look. The trick is in the quick stutter of the film and the jittering of the background light, as though actual film was being run in front of a flickering bulb on an antique projector.

Needless to say we feel it turned out very well, if just a tad too short. We would have liked about 10-15 seconds more for the ending, but that is how the music plays. We submitted this to only one festival and it was accepted and screened. Nice!

On to the next film!