I clearly remember my proudest show-and-tell moment. It was second grade, and I brought in my Princess Jasmine doll strapped to the back of a plush unicorn toy. The night before, I had concocted a lavish adventure in which Princess Jasmine and her trusty unicorn saved the animals of my backyard from evil aliens, and of course, I had to share my newly imagined universe with everyone I knew. I'm sure we all remember these little worlds we invented for ourselves as children, whether it was with dolls or legos or maybe even our pets. Cardboard boxes became castles, carpet became molten lava, and for those few hours of playtime, we got to be whoever we wanted and go wherever we could imagine.
For a lot of people, growing up means putting those toys and makeshift adventures away and turning to a practical life of computers, spreadsheets and business plans. Somehow for me, growing up meant turning my childhood playtime with dolls into a career as an associate producer at Lift Animation, a newly-launched stop motion animation company in Hollywood, where a crew of people who love making things with their hands and telling stories with puppets come together to make films. For founder Rachel Johnson, Lift has given her a chance to tell a variety of socially conscious stories related to a physical disability she was born with.
Henrietta Bulkowski is our newest short film in the works. Henrietta is a young woman with a curved spine who dreams of seeing the world, but can't see anything in the skies above her. Henrietta works relentlessly to rebuild an old scrap airplane, pulling material out of the rubble of a landfill, so that she can one day take to the skies. The character of Henrietta and the art of stop motion animation itself is a tribute to the magic we can create with our hands and our imaginations.
In a world where so much is done digitally, a film featuring handmade characters in a handmade world is a refreshing reminder of what we can accomplish with the simple everyday materials around us. A piece of wire can be transformed into a skeleton that allows a puppet to move, a few twigs from the backyard are reborn into the branches of a new tree, and a vast landscape of mountains starts with just a few pieces of styrofoam. After all, Thomas Edison once wrote, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” We couldn’t agree more.
At Lift Animation, we hope that stop motion stories like Henrietta Bulkowski will reinvigorate audiences of both children and adults alike with an appreciation of playtime and invention. We hope that Henrietta’s determination and hard work will show the importance of hands-on creativity to achieving the goals we set in life and that the worlds we invent in our minds could manifest into beautiful realities.
Help tell Henrietta's story through Kickstarter.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.