Jon Bristol had always been a lifelong puppetry fan and was a fan of the universe that Jim Henson created with his puppets but the stories Bristol initially wanted to tell were created with pen and ink on paper. In the late 90’s when Bristol was in his early 20’s he created comic strips and comic books with his close knit group of friends. The group decided to turn his comics into a movie but none of his friends fit the roles in the story he wished to tell. After seeing the Muppet Christmas Carol, Bristol was inspired to tell his stories using puppets and the kernel of the idea that became Elmwood Productions was born.
At that early stage Bristol had no experience creating puppets and as this was the “pre-internet” era, he researched how to do it by taking books out of the library and taking apart old puppets to see how they worked. They were rudimentary and somewhat crude but they worked and with each puppet he created he became more adept at the art. Although the puppets he creates now are sophisticated, Bristol still loves to see the first puppets he created. “I still love them,” Bristol says. “I mean they’re pretty crude and you can see every seam and they’re falling apart now, (but) it’s still fun to take a look at the ones I made like in ’99/2000/2001 and compare them to what I’m doing now.” Sometimes Bristol will go back to the old techniques if something works well in a new environment.
Initially his group formed a company called Fantasy Theater productions but they discovered there was another company with a similar name so they changed it in 2001 to Elmwood City Productions
They first started making a movie called Josh and Todd: the story of a man and his puppet, then created a parody of a cable access show called “It’s Late Enough with Plink” a blue bald character, ten or 11 episodes. and then created a series called Steve the Vampire. The main crew were Bristol, Russ Bird, Jim Williams, and Peter Lucco but more intrepid puppeteers joined. Puppeteers Nick Foreman, Mike Finland, Manda Vasas, and Ben Farley joined the team and together they began to make magic!
Bristol chronicles his journey in the world of puppetry in his blog called Puppet a Day . It was originally formed because he saw a painter who created a painting a day and he wanted to try the same format with puppets. He created a puppet every day for one year. Some puppets have been worn out past their usefulness, some have been gifted or sold, but Elmwood Productions has over 300 puppets currently in their repertoire
The current project is “HEAD” a horror story told via puppets. It’s a throwback and tribute to the 1970/80’s horror movies. Bristol says this isn’t “Chucky”, this is not a gimmick, the puppet are actually the actors in the story and the story is fun for the genre. “It’s very intentionally cliched,” Bristol says, “but its a story that will grab people.” It was filmed in 2014 and the crew had a lot of fun. This movie is for an adult audience with adult language and themes and Bristol surmises that the movie would be considered “Rated R”.
Categories: Artist Profiles