Bonds. James Bonds.
On Thursday night, Individual Artists of Oklahoma Gallery hosts the world premiere of “Battle of the Bonds,” the most recent in a series of popular shorts by Oklahoma filmmaker Kyle Roberts, whose previous pop culture mash-ups have garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Those also will be screened.
Growing up in Columbia, Mo., as a fan of John Hughes’ movies, Roberts discovered his own love of filmmaking as a teenager.
“I was fortunate enough for my high school to have a dedicated broadcast journalism program,” he said. “After a semester, the teacher ended up just giving me the key to the editing bay because I was in there so much!”
After graduating from Oklahoma Christian University in 2007, he formed his own production company, Reckless Abandonment Pictures, specializing in documentaries, shorts and music videos, like the one he shot last summer on the iPhone 4 for local band Dr. Pants.
After seeing the “Sarsparilla Girl” clip, Nokia commissioned him to shoot one exclusively on its N8 smartphone. The result, local musician Denver Duncan’s “Stalker,” has been featured on several high-profile tech blogs.
Always looking for new creative outlets, Roberts became interested in creating Internet videos with the potential to go viral. Inspiration struck after seeing indie director Wes Anderson’s stopmotion animated feature.
“‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ really sparked my imagination as to what can be accomplished with that medium. CG animation is much cleaner, but there is something about the hard work and authenticity of stop-motion that really interests me,” Roberts said.
Even with modern technology, it takes months to complete such a project, as four hours of work might translate to only three seconds of the final work.
“When doing stop-motion, you have to love what you’re doing!” he said.
The technology allows Roberts to add effects that would be nearimpossible to hand-animate, like explosions and laser blasts. The combination of methods results in a polished product some mistake for being entirely computer-created.
“That’s one of the biggest complements to me,” said Roberts. “It’s supposed to still look like action figures, but if it looks like they are seamlessly moving around by themselves, that’s great!” His first such project, “Wall-E Meets Michael Jackson,” had the disparate icons trading dance moves. His fan-voted follow-up, “Iron Man vs. Batman,” took nearly three months to complete. It has nearly 200,000 views online and a permanent home in the Toy & Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley. After that, Roberts wanted to take things to a whole new level.
“What better way to do that than with a stop-motion parody of the James Bond franchise!” he said.
With usable figures for all the 007s except Daniel Craig, Roberts had an artist in Thailand create a custom figure of the actor to use in the eight-month endeavor that would become “Battle of the Bonds.” As with all his parodies, Roberts pays tribute to his subjects while delivering over-the-top action and humor.
He is excited to share “Bonds” with audiences tomorrow and afterward online. With a runtime of 10 minutes, it’s more than twice the length of “Iron Man vs. Batman.” With “Bonds” in the bag, Roberts is taking a break from stopmotion — he promised his wife.