The Happy Birthday Incident was an 8 week project done at Sticky Art Lab as a part of the after school program. We began with the investigation of some questions around environmental issues. The main questions that arose were:

-Is the earth intelligent?

-What do we do if the earth is in peril?

-What would happen if there were suddenly aliens on earth?

Video courtesy Rachel Knudson/Sticky Art Lab      All photos Suzi Garner/Sticky Art Lab

Brainstorming ideas about the Earth.

We chose to explore these questions through storytelling, useing stop motion animation as our medium. Over an 8 week period we worked on the film as a group, culminating in a film screening with waffles served. Our creative process was as follows:

-discuss big questions (draw, write, imagine, and share ideas)

-choose a form for exploration/storytelling (stop motion animation)

-create storyline as a group

-choose individual characters/roles

-write script/scenes

-model characters and build scenes

-shoot movie

-create story cards

-edit film

-hold movie screening with waffles.

The storyline of the film:

 The earth is hit by a giant meteor, making a crack in the earth's crust. Out of the crack crawl strange looking monsters. Everyone in the town is so scared of the monsters, they scream and run. They screamed so hard that their heads flew off. This began a terrible epidemic of the Head Popping Off Disease.  Meanwhile In the local science lab, they are holding a birthday party for the head scientists' dog. As they sing happy birthday to the dog, they notice that one of the monsters from inside the earth has joined in. Instead of running and screaming, the head scientist is intrigued. “You can speak English?” he asks the monster. In response the monster says, “blah!” The scientist keeps asking questions until he discovers that the word “blah” in fact means “tape” in English. The monster has been trying to help the scientist to solve the problem of the Head Popping Off Disease by suggesting they tape the heads back on. When the scientist understands this, they tape the heads on, everyone is cured and they all become friends with the monsters.

Using our imaginations to visualize the earth’s powers

“We all had different ideas and we kind of put them all together and found out what we wanted to do. And we all agreed on the story and made it.” - Felix Davis

“The monsters weren't actually bad. The people were scared because the monsters were different. Some things may seem scary but they aren't actually bad.” - Calder Fritz

The Brain of the Earth, drawing by Charlie Holler

Sam Feldman shares his ideas about the meaning of the rainbow.

Shooting the film