Japanese director Takahide Hori‘s stunning, award-winning debut animated film, Junk Head 1, above, which took four years to make, and was created as a largely solo effort in his spare time, with no budget and released in 2013.
I’ve only just come across this (largely) stop animation quite by chance, but it’s a great SF project set in a disturbing future where much of what is now humankind lives in a world of subterranean, monster-filled tunnels…
From above ground, a lone explorer is sent on a discovery and retrieval mission – and ends up in a new robotic body, thanks to a crazy Doctor and his team.
(There’s more background on the film’s story and concepts here on the Takahide’s official site).
Alongside the adventure, there’s plenty of humour to this short film, and I’m delighted to see Junk Head 2 is currently in production, despite not gaining deserved crowdfunding (although it is worth checking out the page, if only for the video, which makes a lot more sense if you’ve Junk Head 1!).
While the second film is being made, the team have also released the film with subtitles in six more languages – Arabic, French, German, Italian Korean and Portuguese.
Hori graduated from Midorigaoka High School (attached to the Oita Prefectural College of Arts and Culture) with a major in oil painting. He then moved to Tokyo where he did various part-time jobs while pursuing the dream of becoming an artist. Working on commercial art (on projects such as store design, model-making and mural painting), he also designed and executed a dining bar that he managed for a year and a half.
Hori has won a number of small awards for painting, and has experience making marionettes, dolls, netsuke, accessories, and more. He began his
independent stop-motion animation project Junk Head 1 aged 38.
Other alongside Hori on the Junk Head production team are English translator Emily Balistrieri, who majored in Japanese at the University of the Pacific and following graduation wrote freelance in San Francisco for a few years (mainly videogame and anime news, event reports, and reviews). After studying abroad for a year at Waseda University, she remains based in Tokyo translating in a variety of media including anime subtitles, picture books, manga, and games. She hopes to break into literature.
Also on the team is CG artist Norikatu Seo, who entered the world of special effects make-up and modeling after college, but gradually became attracted to digital video production. He has built up experience in film, tv, commercials, games at video and CG production companies. He’ss currently employed by a CG production company, and also does video production on his own as “claritycube.”
I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for this project – in 2014, Junk Head 1 was the winner of the prestigious ‘Best Animation’ award at the 2014 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and it’s gained something of a cult following across the globe.
As website Short of the Week notes, not only did Hori manage to create his film without any assistance, except for a few cuts where had somewhere do some CG work, Junk Head 1 was his first experience of stop-motion (although he does have a background in doll and marionette making), with all of the filmmaking techniques used throughout his film self-taught.
I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did – and I’m looking forward to watching Junk Head 2.
All images copyright Takahide Hori