The birth of Moon Creative
How Covid launched a stop frame film production company
By Alva Nyblom
Imagine a small creature, greyish white with peppercorn eyes and a nose that looks a bit like an icicle. Imagine this creature cracking an egg open, but it turns out to be a screaming hell portal. The small thing is advised not to eat it. Are you obsessed yet?
I was. The short stop motion pictures clip that, by the magic of the algorithm, I found on Instagram was produced by Moon Creative, which by the time had just a few hundred followers. A few months later, the Moon Creative creators – “People mistake us for brothers because we have the same accent and look very similar – both ginger and beardy!” – have gathered a couple thousand hanger-ons.
“We’re in the middle of a world tour this year, me and my wife and our two daughters”, Tom Addis, one half of the two moon brothers, tells us over Zoom in the beginning of May. “During covid we decided to go a bit random and find adventures.” The family went on to rent out the house and sell the car to spend some time in Spain and Canada. However, when talking to us, Tom Addis is in Manchester, where he grew up. “We should be in Croatia, but because of passport problems, we’re stuck here.” His partner in stop motion pictures, Chris Carr, is from the same town, and while roaming the world was one thing Tom Addis decided to do during lockdown, starting a stop motion pictures studio was the other. The Do Not Eat the egg–that-turns-out-to-be-portal-to-hell-video was produced while Tom was in Canada, sick with covid. “I was stuck inside with my seven year old, who’s the best company, and we were making these weird little creatures. I was sitting at the desk in an Airbnb and it was the first test to see if we enjoyed it, and I loved it.”
Both Tom and Chris are originally from Manchester, and they have known each other for thirty years. “We were doing art and playing music together all the time. Then he went off doing illustrations, graphics, and filmography, and I started a graphics company. Just before covid, I had written a live action film. Everything was in place – actors, scripts finished, the score finished, make up artists – and I was really excited. Then, literally the week before we started filming, covid hit. It killed the film within weeks,” Tom says.
He then wrote to Chris, asking what to do. “And he said, ‘well, you could animate, couldn’t you?’”. And so Tom Addis started writing a new script, adapted for animation “and it was by far better than the first.” When in Canada, Tom went to see Chris for the first time in a while. They watched the Netflix film “The House”. “It’s incredible. Three stories, stop frame animation, all set around one house. It blew our minds and Chris and I looked at each other and thought that we can be set apart from the many, many, digital animators. We could be slightly different and make our own puppets, make our own scores, write our own scripts – we could be a real one stop shop for stop frame animation.”
They made the dark egg-hell-portal-prototype and had great reactions to it. “Two of the animators from the film “The House” have been getting in touch with us and we haven’t even really started filming! The girl who did the puppets for “The Fantastic Mr Fox” has been talking to Chris, advising, and it’s just a lovely genre, the people are very open and friendly.”
Chris Carr has a sense for lighting, set design and angles while Tom Addis is writing the stories. “Our favorite kinds of films are the ones where you pick a genre which has been made many times, ghosts, aliens or vampires, but you do something really deep and dark and strange with it.”
The startup production company is starting out with shorter films, but has a finished script for a longer movie. On Instagram one can see behind the scene snaps of the two founders writing music, building sets and crafting puppets – the cats Keith and Dave are recurring characters. Keith looks like a hipster urban farmer, with grey fur, a leather apron and a chequered shirt. Dave looks less atheltic, an albino complete with red eyes.
During his Canada visit, Tom went with Chris to a live action film set. He watched the director having to manage people, and lost the sense of filmmaking. ”When in the studio, Chris and I don’t feel like we’re working. We don’t have to take any other people into consideration, like ‘are they stressed or do they know what to do?’.” Having been to live action set, Tom realised stop motion production does not, in fact, take longer to make, contrary to what one might believe. “With stop frame production, we can control everything together. It does take a long time to make the puppets and the sets, but the actual animation doesn’t seem that long. There’s a real magic to it.”