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Bethel Man Joins Forces With 'Mr. Robot' To Make Stop-Motion 'Mouse' Film

From left, Peter Duncanson, Jhonny Parks, Lara Skye and Ethan James, who are all holding up the character they play in the upcoming stop-motion film "What The Mouse?" Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Bethel resident Jhonny Parks is the creator and director of the upcoming stop motion film "What The Mouse?" Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Bethel resident and graphic designer Jhonny Parks has written and directed "What The Mouse?" an artistic stop-motion short film. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
A scene from the stop-motion film "Wound Up," which was featured on Amazon video. it was nominated for Best Concept Film at the 2016 Bright Side Tavern Film Festival. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox

BETHEL, Conn. --  What do you get when you put a little mouse, a hairless cat, an eccentric owl and an agoraphobic snail together in a movie?

You get " What The Mouse? " a stop-motion short film written and directed by Bethel resident Jhonny Parks that is expected to be released in September 2017.

About 30 people recently came to the Danbury Hackerspace & Innovation Center to celebrate a successful crowdfunding campaign for “What The Mouse?” The film surpassed its $5,000 goal and is now looking to raise $6,000.

According to Parks, the film is about "finding one's self identity and being truly happy about who and what you are."

Peter Duncanson, who starred in the second season of USA Networks’ “Mr. Robot," came to the Danbury event. He will voice the role of Gordon — the snail — in the film.

"What The Mouse?" is Parks' second short film. The first, "Wound Up," came out in June and was featured on Amazon video. It was nominated for Best Concept Film at the 2016 Bright Side Tavern Film Festival.

According to Parks, each character in "What the Mouse?" represents either a friend of his or himself, and each faces a daily struggle.

The mouse, voiced by Parks and named What, was abandoned as a child. Delores, the hairless cat, played by Lara Skye Baddour, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Travis, the owl, voiced by Ethan James, is paranoid. and Gordon the snail is agoraphobic.

Stop motion films take many, many hours to create. "Everything in the scene has to move just a little bit at a time," Parks said, a self-taught artist. "It's painstakingly hard work."

Stop motion is an animation technique in which an object is physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement on film.

The funds raised through the crowd-funding campaign will go toward the purchase of a higher resolution camera, more advanced material to build characters with better movement and posability, and additional audio equipment.

While it took 12,000 pictures to make the 15-minute film "Wound Up," for "What the Mouse?" Parks hopes to shoot 18,,000 frames. "This will make it more fluent and less choppy," he said.

Parks will also be involved in several upcoming projects. He is the Maker-In-Residence  at the Danbury Library for November, where he will be teaching a series of classes on stop-motion animation. He will also be teaching in January at Bethel Art Space.

Creating stop motion films is "cool because it's organic. You create your own world. You have complete freedom," he said. "You do everything -- from writing the story to creating the characters to creating the script and storyline."

What does it take to succeed in stop motion? "It needs to be a passion," he said.

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