Shadows are fun. Groundhogs enjoy them and they make for great storytelling. So, inspired by the myriad of excellent shadow puppet videos I’ve come across, especially the fantastical Lior’s I’ll Forget You, I decided to give it a shot. And how better but to pay homage to the classic movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray!

At the heart of this wonderfully hilarious film is a character, Phil, who is given the chance to rediscover his own humanity. Phil’s journey is amazingly insightful and holds many truths, and it’s why Groundhog Day has always resonated so strongly with me. In a world with no consequences, the cynical Phil first embraces and indulges in all the superficial, physical offerings of the world. However, over time Phil begins to discover the difference one man can bring to the world by helping the people of the town, getting his first taste of selflessness. These charitable acts begin to affect him, eventually realizing that the only real change that will ever be possible must happen within himself.

Just like Phil, I think a lot of us, with our daily routines, live the same day over and over again. We become distracted by the superficial changes in our lives and forget that real change must come from engaging in the world — challenging ourselves to discover something new about who we are. Groundhog Day gives us a glimpse of how embracing that power to change and grow can alter our lives. It’s exactly why I continue to do these yearly projects. I’m fascinated by who I’ll become, I know I’m not the best I can be nor will I ever be perfect. But that’s not going to stop me from challenging myself, improving myself, and discovering a new, better Dean along the way.

Alright, so part of these weekly projects is to dive into something completely new, and although I had never done anything like this before, everything seemed pretty straightforward. That said, I vastly underestimated the complexity of putting on a shadow puppet show. I sketched, designed, and cut out my puppets quickly and gleefully. I did a rough animated storyboard in Photoshop. I was confident. I was prepared. I knew I would need a few people to help out with the puppets, but I thought recording the scene would be a snap.

Somewhere chaos was grinning.

Everything was going smoothly until I couldn’t find any “actors”, luckily a few friends came through, but by then it was too late to design a “gust of wind” and a “dog barking” which I forgot to do. Then as we began shooting, the quarters that would spill out from Felix didn’t work very well and had to be scrapped. Although, the worst failure was not putting enough time into designing the control rods for the puppets themselves. The way I created them made it difficult for the puppets to bend at the waist like I wanted. However, after recording a few takes with my iPhone we all made do and adjusted accordingly.

Overall, I’m happy with what came from it, it was a blast to make and will definitely make another in the future. I’ve learned too much not to! Thanks to Curtis, David, and Shana! Click on the top image for the video! Bing!

“People just don’t understand what is involved in this. This an art form! You know, I think that most people just think that I hold a camera and point at stuff, but there is a *heck* of a lot more to it than just that.”

—Larry, Groundhog Day


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