For this semester of projects we’ve been working on at the Boys & Girls Clubhouses, students and staff requested a theme around characterization and telling stories. Naturally, one of the first activities that came to mind was Stop-Motion Animation, a favorite and a great project to begin a year of programming with what we expected were going to be a new set of participants at both the Don Fisher and Visitacion Valley sites we’ve been collaborating with for many years now.
Thinking about the continuing trend we’ve seen at Visitacion Valley of youth being interested in Tinkering at younger and younger ages, we decided on a set of familiar, flexible, colorful objects to populate the films: geometric wood blocks, air dry clay, and construction paper. We wanted to make sure the materials we provided were endlessly modifiable, able to work in combination with one another, and hold up over the course of weeks that we would be doing the activity. We began the project as we normally do, with a conversation seated in a circle, but oriented our prompt around the central question, “Then what happens?” Students began with open-ended tussling with materials to freely generate ideas about what they wanted their films to be about, and facilitators along the way asked “so what happens to this character?” or “what happens in this world you have in mind?” That common thread of and then what left ample space for makers to think about the action of their stories and the solutions or problems they would explore.
Here are some of the finished stop-motion animations made this semester, in GIF form for easier viewing.
"Beeeeees" by Kaylani & Bella. When asked about their project and their inspiration behind it, Kaylani pointed out that one of the yellow geometric blocks that she had seen on the first day of the activity was already painted with stripes, and she thought of telling a story about flowers and bees.
"Ninja Fight" by Jair. Jair joined us this semester for the first time and has been very excited about making things week after week, sometimes interjecting into Circle Time to ask, "Can we get started?" He made two films about ninjas because he was interested in "how they move so fast."
"Game Time: A Tribute to my Friend Timothy" by Andy. Andy is a veteran tinkerer and clearly a talented humorist. He was adamant about making this film with the aesthetics and plot development you can see. Turns out it's based on a videogame he learned about earlier this year from his friend Timothy, also in our program, who he homaged in the title.
"Flowers & Bees" by Reina & Kiara. On the first day of the activity, Reina and Kiara knew they wanted to work together but weren't sure what they wanted their film to be about. After noticing Kaylani and Bella's project develop they decided on a similar set of characters but wanted to instead focus on "a bee harming a flower instead of helping it."