Gorilla tactics: Concordia filmmakers set to release claymation feature

Imagine a road movie where two bohemian buddies travel through Montreal selling a mysterious illicit substance, check out a rap battle, and get caught up in an extra-terrestrial conspiracy. Sound strange? Now imagine this film done in claymation and you begin to have an idea of the creation that is 500 Pound Planet a movie its makers call “absurd, huge and insane.”
Crafted by local prankster Jesse Brown (recently accused of sabotaging Concordia’s Fine Arts vernisage in a chicken suit) and hip-hop klezmerite Josh Dolegin, 500 Pound Planet is the culmination of several years working together on a variety of irreverent and entertaining animated shorts, under the moniker of Gorrilla Cartoons. The film, which is their first feature, combines live action footage and claymation characters, and uses dialogue often picked up from secret recordings of unknowing acquaintances.
For a movie that plays up its originality but uses some very familiar techniques such as animated characters in the real world and protagonists directly based on the filmmakers’ personalities, these “covert recordings” are probably the film’s most innovative feature. While the story was scripted in advance, “found” dialogue was added to give the film an added layer of realism. Brown explains, “We were writing scripts and trying to make things sound as real as possible and then we figured why fabricate something like that when there is great dialogue all around. So we could take these covert recordings. . . a conversation about pizza, recontextualize it and make it about criminal misdeeds.”
Images are also toyed with as Peruvian mountains end up juxtaposed as backdrops to Montreal’s urban jungle. What’s amazing about this film is that a claymation story with an outrageous sci-fi plot involving aliens, sewer monsters and Hassidic Jews also ends up being an example in cinema verite. This fascinating combination of reality and fantasy makes for a very successful artistic experiment on par with the inventiveness of “The Simpsons.”
In any case, Brown said the two wanted to keep the film “as true to our experience in Montreal as possible,” which probably explains the intermittent feuding of the movie’s two main characters, Spenser and Blue. Six months into filming the movie, the two directors published online polemics detailing their mutual contempt for one another in painful detail. On the website, Dolegin complains of Brown’s “condescending arrogance, his self-satisfied dismissiveness, his utterly selfish, insular concerns,” while Brown says that Dolegin is like “peon” and claims that his appearance as a laidback hippy-type is actually a fa


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