STOKER MACHINE, 12min., USA
Directed by Darieus Legg
Stoker Machine is a must-see animated surf documentary. Chad Campbell, an expert surfer discovers a mysterious surfboard on the big island of Hawaii. The retro board provides only a phone number and an email address as clues to its origin, leading Chad to accidentally uncover a central-coast California surf legend. The man they call, "Stoker".
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
My motivation to make this film was born out of a deep need to contribute something to the world beyond corporate DEI "content". I wanted to make a personal film on my own terms with no censorship. I made a feature film in my home state of Hawaii twelve years ago and it was a traumatic experience for me. I spent the next eleven years working in Hollywood learning from experts and avoiding the elephant in the room - doing personal artwork. The pandemic happened and it gave me the space and time to be quiet and listen to what the Universe was asking me to do. Luckily I was paying attention when my neighbor Chad Campbell came home with this mysterious surfboard, the Stoker Machine. I knew immediately this was the story I had to tell.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
The film took me three years to make. I had never done this level of animation or art direction by myself. I had a hard drive crash and lost hundreds of hand drawn animations which almost made me quit. I even learned how to do 3D animation exploring the possibility that this story was going to be told in that medium. But after a few screen tests it became clear the film wanted to be hand drawn. That medium fits what the story was trying to be, and again - luckily I was paying attention.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Childlike, Magical, Stoke
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Hands down myself. Sure, there were a ton of external challenges like getting fired from my high paying job, hard drive crashes, navigating cartel controlled states in Mexico, and numerous other obstacles. But, the biggest obstacle is the mind. And I kept believing that if I stuck with this film, it would transform me because I needed change in my life so badly. My mind would try to trick me into thinking I'm not good enough to make this film, or that people are laughing at me behind my back, all types of traps. I have to thank meditation and keeping supportive people around me during the process that got me to push through the mental barriers.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Honestly, some of it felt like they were reading from a script. But some of them felt genuine. Maybe it's both. At any rate, I am shocked and surprised to hear people's reactions. I find it super fascinating how art lands on people.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I realized I wanted to make films at 8 years old.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
That is hard to answer because I watch a lot of movies and sometimes I revisit them, sometimes I don't . I am constantly seeking new points of view.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
That's a tough question because so much of a career is out of our control. All we can do is be genuine, intentional, and show up everyday to do the work. Like a devotion to something that is bigger than all of us. I believe making art is committing an act that is bigger than all of us. If festivals really care about promoting the arts, they usually know what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
The experience has been fine. AKin to going to the airport. Very impersonal and done by the numbers. I prefer in person festivals and interactions with humans face to face.
10. What is your favorite meal?
No favorites here, and I do enjoy Asian, Persian, Mexican, Italian, and European foods.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I have used the film Stoker Machine as a platform to invite folks to share with me through my website darieuslegg.com, What makes you Stoked? Their responses are going into my upcoming children's book, "S is for Stoked!" I have been receiving incredible emails through my newsletter and it's amazing what can happen in this world when we share what brings us great joy.