BMD pal Evan Husney has made a terrific new short documentary about Phil Tippett, the stop motion creature creator behind Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and more. My Life in Monsters offers wonderful insight into the man behind the tauntaun, for instance, a beast that started on the page as a "snow lizard" before Tippett transformed it into the fuzzy mammalian camel-thingy we know it as today.
Tippett discusses at great length how inspired he was by stop motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen, and how, in 1958, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad changed everything for a young Tippett, and convinced him that he wanted to make monsters and dinosaurs for a living. He loved the look of stop motion: "It wasn't real, but it was magical." He threw himself into making 8mm movies with articulated G.I. Joe action figures, doing the best he could although "there was no information about this stuff anywhere," and though his parents were, at first, charmed, they soon became concerned about his obsession, taking him to a psychologist because, "You're not gonna be Ray Harryhausen."
Tippett then got to know Harryhausen through Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J Ackerman, and Tippett's career took off with Empire Strikes Back. The doc follows him through his career, through the change from stop motion to CGI on Jurassic Park that broke his heart before earning him an Oscar, to current day and his long-marinating short film Mad God.
We're shown animatics, sketches and sculptures, but what we're most given in My Life in Monsters is a glimpse into a brilliant and artistic mind. Tippett's very frank about his anxiety and depression, and about how they affect his creative process. If you're a Star Wars fan, a Jurassic Park fan or just a stop-motion fan, watch My Life in Monsters immediately: