Sunday, May 19, 2013


Two weekends ago, my wife Erica and I took the kids with us for the Monsterpalooza convention. Needless to say, it was a very busy weekend. The two weeks before the show, I was scrambling to complete two new sculptures that had been haunting me for years.
In late 2007, I was approached by Andrew Cawrse of "Freedom of Teach" (now Anatomy Tools) to create an instructional DVD for his site/brand. The DVD was to be about the creation of a Stop-Motion Puppet, from the script, storyboards, design, sculpting, armature building, casting, painting...the whole gambit. I had been working on a new installment of STASIS, so it was not a stretch that I was going to be creating new puppets anyway. I was thrilled to do something with Andrew and immediately set about designing. One of my first rough ideas was sketched below. Bet before I got too far into the design phase, Andrew wanted me to buy every single instructional DVD I could find about sculpting in small-scale to armature creation. I ended up with like 10 DVD's, that took me forever to watch because they mostly bored the shit out of me. I told Andrew that I was determined to make an instructional DVD that was not only professional, but funny and entertaining. I spent the better part of the next month or two writing my syllabus for each DVD chapter in conjunction with 50 or so storyboards illustrating what the character I was calling "SHIVA" had to perform on film. I also came up with budget scenarios for a low-end to high-end production. Then I was ready to move forward, BUT, by this time Andrew was changing the name of his company to Anatomy tools and now wanted to put forward only "anatomy" type instruction. I totally understood, but I was crushed. Andrew asked if he could pitch the idea to the Gnomon school and I agreed, of course, and asked if he would please let me know what the outcome was, but never heard from him again. I didn't care that much about scrapping the instructional DVD, but it burned when he never called me back, even after I left messages. Friendship was more important than a stupid DVD to me.
I continued to do sketches of "SHIVA" because I was not going to let go. I built an armature based off of my sketches. Then, for some reason, it sat for maybe a year, collecting spiderwebs and dust. Then one day in August of 2011, my friend Clint Burgin had a sculpting party at his sculpture shop in Santee. I grabbed my armature, clay, my heat lamp, and dove in. I had an old casting of just the chest and face of my Eve character I did in 2000 that Andrew and I originally planned to use and include as a selling point for the DVD. Below, you can see me integrating the white resin chest into the oil-based clay. That was a fun sculpting party, with old and new friends like Jim Moore, Jonathan Fuller, Mike Biasi, and Ryan Buckalew. When you get a group of like-minded guys working together in the same room, the stories shared quickly digress....I had a blast.
Pictured from left to right: Clint Burgin, James Moore, and Jonathan Fuller. Not pictured: Jason and Rachele King.

Unfortunately, the day after that party, I was in pain. I tried to keep working on SHIVA at home but my neck was really stiff.
I thought maybe I slept on it wrong, but as the weeks went by, it was steadily getting worse. After an MRI, doctors discovered two herniated disks in my neck. My life took a turn for the worse. I was having trouble raising my arms and the pain in my upper shoulders and neck was becoming chronic. Thinking that my career as a sculptor was done, I became severely depressed. At one point, I even considered taking my own life. After about a year of physical therapy, chiropractic care, and corrective exercise, I finally turned the corner. What I discovered, was that being active and going back to Karate, of all things, is what saved me.
On June 22nd of 2012, I was home for a long weekend after a vasectomy. I was bored out of my skull icing my crotch and wanting to sculpt something fun. I dusted off the Shiva sculpture, and found my old self again. I spent many nights that summer listening to H.P Lovecraft stories like "In the Mountains of Madness" while sculpting her. She was a pleasure to create and a reminder never to give up on my dreams.


icepick method said...

great to hear your doing better Jason. I'm going through something similar right now. I just started going to a chiropractor 2 months ago and it's helping a lot.

What other instructional resources would you recommend for somebody who wants to get into one man stop motion film making? I've already signed up for a lot of the Stan Winston classes And Danielle Tirinnanzi's animatronics Dvd's.

Jason Hite said...

Icepick. I highly recommend checking out Mark Spes's site;
He has some great instructional DVDs that I learned a ton from!

Sorry to hear you are going through stuff like me. It's not an easy road. The thing that I learned was to make sure to find a balance in my life between work, exercise, and relaxation. I spent 10 years just working and never really letting myself relax and that is is what got me into trouble.

Jason Hite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
icepick method said...

Yea i try to catch the Animateclay live chat Mark hosts every week. Great resource for new things and old diehards like Ron Cole are there often.

Kevin said...

I really wish I could've made it to monsterpalooza to see this and have at least a chance to purchase. BUT i can just go down the road to my friend's Cris' house to see it now =).

Dude, LOVE your work. I look forward to your next!
Hope you're well bud.