Christian Frahme’s Latest Dedication, “Wonkamation,” is a Bittersweet Farewell to the Late Gene Wilder
Hooligan assistant editor Christian Frahme has been painting model kits since he was eight years old. He picked up the hobby from his father, who would bring him to “garage kit” conventions in search of rare and limited-run resin castings of characters like Superman, Jason and Freddy. Garage kits are called such because they’re typically independently sculpted and cast in garages and home studios.
As an adult, Frahme has found a way to combine this pastime with his passion for filmmaking. The most recent specimen being “Wonkamation,” a fantastical stop-motion tribute to the late Gene Wilder. Layer by layer, frame by frame, the three-minute animation captures Frahme’s labor of love. “Pure Imagination,” the beloved song from “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” adds bittersweet resonance too the piece.
“Wonkamation,” like all of Frahme’s other stop-motion paintings, was conceived in the spirit of nostalgia and giving. Sharing a great love of Gene Wilder with his mother, he set out to create the piece for her birthday. When you consider its sheer beauty and detail, Frahme is the odds on favorite for Son of the Year.
“The year before, I animated a Young Frankenstein bust for her birthday, while dad got the Superman treatment for his birthday with a representation of George Reeves as the caped hero,” says Frahme, who coyly admits that he is too sentimental to sell the physical models featured in his films. “If I give a kit to someone, it means that I work on it with them in mind from the time I buy the casting.”
That’s quite generous when you consider the hundreds of hours that not only go into painting these garage kits, but also animating them into the wee night hours.
The primarily in-camera, DIY production adds to the nostalgic gusto in “Wonkamation,” which Christian shot in his living room. His grandmother’s antique liquor cabinet provided the worn, textured backdrop – perfect for staging a retro vibe that echoes the original movie’s practical effects. Frahme used a turntable for the rotating platform, which was an homage to the glass elevator scene at the end of ‘Willy Wonka.’
“Albeit DIY and low-budget, I did very little correction in post – only slight edits to offset minor camera bumps, really,” he says.
Careful planning, scrutiny and patience were equally paramount to realizing Frahme’s artistic vision, as he meticulously researched and studied photographs of Wilder, as well as key elements in the film to achieve the most authentic representation of Willy Wonka himself.
If you sip on enough coffee in the Hooligan universe, chances are you’ll soon get your hands on one of these mugs with Kane and Eric’s faces planted on them.
The history of these vanity mugs actually dates back to the partners’ former company Chinagraph. You see, back then, Eric’s instantly discernible charm graced all sorts of Hooligan swag like mugs and shot glasses.
For years, these were hot-ticket items among clients and staff alike until one day, just like that, we were all out. But not for long, thanks to our vault manager Emily McDevitt, who put her blossoming Photoshop skills to the test in creating the 2.0 version of the best ‘mug’ shots ever.
For our debut Sunset Art Series on May 24th, we’re excited to exhibit a brilliant collection of oil paintings by our longtime friend and client Jon Parkinson. We’ve been fans of Jon’s figurative works for years, and he has even painted a few Hooligans, which will all be on display as we also celebrate the opening of our new terrace. To preview the show, we sat down with Jon to talk about his paintings and his craft.
HOOLIGAN: Your work is largely portraiture and landscape-driven. What draws you to this subject matter, and what inspires the particular subjects you choose to paint?
JON: Friends, family and places that are dear to me. I go to Martha’s Vineyard every summer, so I’ll be exhibiting some pieces from there, too, as well as Pienza, Italy, which I visited last year. I also have some portraits from my trips to the UK.
HOOLIGAN: Who are your influences as a painter?
JON: The British painter Lucian Freud has always been an inspiration to me. When I go back home to London, one of the first places I go to is the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a fascinating place to explore portraiture in any medium. I’m also a fan of Chuck Close. His unique large-scale works resonate with me, as I enjoy exploring and breaking down the physical features of my subjects in a way that it gives them a life of their own. Most of my portraits are ‘larger than life,’ with canvases going upwards of five feet.
HOOLIGAN: Please elaborate on your personal aesthetic:
JON: My work is hardly photo-real, but certainly representative. I like painting people who exude character. Oftentimes, a young face might be beautiful, but it’s not interesting. For instance, if you look at portraits from 200 and 300 years ago, depictions of children are always a little off, no matter how great the artist is, because there’s essentially less to distinguish in their face.
As I progress, I’ve also found that my aesthetic has become more stylized. For example, about five years ago, I did a painting of Eric, which he is bringing back to the show and, more recently, one of Kane; when you see those two paintings next to each other, it is interesting to see how my style has changed. But you never stop growing and learning and investigating. That’s what makes this creative journey so interesting and fun to me.
HOOLIGAN: Talk a little bit more about your art background process:
JON: Painting is my escape from the madness of working in the advertising industry. I didn’t get into it until much later in life, but when I was younger, I went to school for graphic design and film, so I’ve always had a creative streak as a visual artist. I got into painting when I lived in California, where I began painting my daughters. I soon found that I enjoyed portraiture a great deal.
The large-scale nature of my work and the medium through which I create has naturally evolved my process and style over the years. You see, as a part-time painter, I find myself letting the paint dry, then returning days or weeks later to alter and layer it until I achieve the right look and depth. I typically photograph my subjects and then work from an iPad. I’ve found that its luminosity offers the next best thing to being in the same room as the person. If I had the luxury of time and the ability for models to sit for days like Freud did, that would be great.
HOOLIGAN: Can you share some brief additional thoughts or retrospect on the paintings you did of Hooligan Partners Eric Carlson and Kane Platt, respectively?
JON: I painted Eric’s portrait about 4 years ago. At that time I approached it almost like capturing it in profile with a very regal attitude. Prince Eric of Brooklyn, etc. With Kane, who I painted a year ago, I gave him a very strong masterful attitude, looking up slightly to him. As one does in real life since he is so tall.
HOOLIGAN: There’s an expressive, stylized quality to your representative approach to depicting people. How much does your personal connection with these subjects factor into the end-result?
JON: I paint both people I know very well and many I don’t – but there is always a connection that I need to have with my subject. I have many that I’ve started on that I have to stop and come back to months later, or just give up on. I don’t feel bad, though, as I read years ago that Van Gogh destroyed half of his works himself.
HOOLIGAN: Lastly, what’s your favorite painting that you’ll be showing and why?
JON: That’s like being asked, “Who is your favorite child?” I love them all equally!
Young Filmmaking Duo Discuss Their Film4Climate Short “Garbaggage”
Emily McDevitt, a rising staffer at Hooligan, recently co-produced and starred in Garbaggage, an independent short film for the Film4Climate Global Video Competition. Launched under Connect4Climate, the World Bank Group’s global partnership program, the competition challenged young filmmakers worldwide to bring their unique perspective to the conversation of climate change, while inspiring action, new solutions and change across the globe.
Written, directed and co-produced by McDevitt’s best friend and longtime collaborating partner Alexandra Leinweber, Garbaggage illustrates the dangerous “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon of the unnecessary disposable product waste polluting our oceans — hello, coffee culture, this film’s calling you out.
Garbaggage has been selected as a competition finalist. You can watch it and cast your vote for it here. The #CheckYourImpact tagline also serves as Leinweber and McDevitt’s call-to-action on social media.
We sat down with the two budding filmmakers for a conversation about climate change and the making of Garbaggage.
Where did the idea for Garbaggage come from?
AL: The idea was solidified while watching a video clip of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I saw an island of water bottles, plastic cups, yogurt containers, cutlery, boxes and plastic bags galore just collecting in the ocean – items we use and dispose of every day. I knew it was the subject to address.
EM: The fact that this immense trash island is floating in the Pacific is heartbreaking. What’s more, it is often overlooked or forgotten. Since these plastics are broken up into micro particles suspended in just the top feet of water, and because it is not visible via satellite, divers and boats travel through these waters without even realizing they’re moving through plastic. This encompasses the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon that Alley and I wanted to address in this film.
Why did this particular environmental issue resonate with you for a short film subject?
AL: Ocean water covers ¾ of our planet and holds 97% of the planet’s water supply. It produces more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and absorbs the most carbon from it. To me, the ocean is the most magical thing we have access to and we have a responsibility to protect it.
EM: The way this story and its message moves from land to sea really spoke to me as an ocean lover, scuba diver and lifelong New Yorker – but it doesn’t take a local to tell you that Coney Island and all of the city beaches are becoming increasingly weighed down by trash each year.
What type of sources and research were entailed? Did making this film teach you more than you knew going into it?
AL: The brainstorming stage of this project was a huge learning period. My research spanned testimonials, papers, and documentaries on the environment, most notably Racing Extinction. I wanted to not only address the Sustainability Goals outlined by the UN, but also one that had a true, long-term impact. My original ideas circulated around water preservation, but upon speaking with biologists working with city water and sustainability projects, I understood that the real issue to tackle was water pollution. It was extremely sobering to realize how our disposable culture impacts sea life; just last week 29 beached whales in Germany were found with stomachs full of plastic. There is also a growing body of research that substantiates the connection between plastic pollution and our increasing ocean surface water temperatures, which impacts climate change, too. Ultimately, my research connected me with other filmmakers dedicated to improving the environment and raising awareness. It is truly a proactive and passionate global community with stories that seek to reverse our destructive impact.
Talk about why you chose the “silent film” approach?
AL: Ocean pollution is a universal problem and Connect4Climate has a global reach. I wanted to create a message without language barriers. I tried to stick to disposable items that are relatable worldwide: water bottles, soda cans, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, etc. The items we put on Emily represent about a week’s worth of waste. This obviously varies from person to person, but again, it’s relatable in that it’s not TOO much stuff. We also show her using everything that ends up on her body. The amount of trash is meant to highlight the direct relationship between using and polluting.
Any humorous anecdotes or production stories you’d like to share about shooting in and around NYC with trash hanging all over you?
EM: I did become a little bit of a spectacle, especially for the midtown shots! We wish we had given out the hashtag or something that would’ve allowed those people to share their stories. The best feedback was the affirmation that this was something people were thinking about and that they approved of the project. We even had a few off-camera moments with people at Coney Island who shared their observations about how the beaches had changed over the years.
AL: It gave the project an interesting dual effect – kind of like a street-art display on 8th avenue and Coney Island, but also an intentional short film. Although we didn’t run into Humans of New York (which I secretly hoped would happen!) Em definitely got a lot of attention that day. We thought one gentleman was particularly interested in the project, but really he just wanted to use the cans for coins – at least he’s recycling!
So what’s the story behind the coffee filter scarf?
AL: The coffee industry is wasteful on many levels. I wanted to draw attention to our reliance on a fix that contributes to consistent daily waste. Beverage packaging in general leaves a lot of room for eco-friendly improvement – but not all of them are as pretty and gauzy as coffee filters.
The filmmakers would like to give big hugs and a shout to the following friends and filmmakers. Without their support, Garbaggage could not have been made.
Inspiration: Angela Del Sol Videographer and Animator: John P Editor(s): Andrei Ionescu and Charlie Shelton Music: Cowboy Sam Consultant: Zigis Switzer Production Resources: Hooligan NYC, Rosemary Quigley, and CouchSurfer.
Hooligan Partner/Editor Eric Carlson counts nearly 100 varieties of tequila and mezcal in his personal collection, but to call him a connoisseur is a misnomer. The word carries an air of pretentiousness that simply doesn’t jive with the Eric we all know and adore.
Imbibing with him after-hours, you’ll hear no garrulous recitations of complex flavor profiles. Posturing as tequila’s equivalent to a sommelier is just too much nonsense for a guy who’s more inclined to impersonate Michael Phelps swimming, bark like a dog, or sport bizarre masks and glasses. But make no mistake, Eric is more than happy to share his wisdom of all things agave, and he’s even happier to pour you one — however you’ll have it.
Mixologist. Margarita Czar. Dude.
A mixologist in his own right, Eric has made happy hour at Hooligan a favorite pastime for clients and coworkers alike. A collective giddiness fills the air when you hear the ice shaking as the day’s end nears.
“When clients want a special cocktail, I’m more than happy to oblige — some even pop in on the way home from work.”
Shane DeBlasio, who has worked with Eric for several years at Hooligan, likens his cocktail artistry to that of a master chef: “Eric experiments and concocts new drinks weekly. Before serving you, he usually takes a small sip to insure that it’s up to his stringent standards. In fact, one of his many nicknames is the Margarita Czar. One of my personal favorites is his El Diablo, but picking just one is like trying to pick a favorite child.”
Such margarita monikers have preceded Eric ever since saw The Big Lebowski.
“I figured I needed my own signature drink like The Dude, so I chose the classic margarita,” Eric explains, looking upon nine tequilas on his desk. “But lots of places make bad margaritas, so I’ve naturally gravitated towards top-shelf tequilas served neat when I go out – and as of late, mezcal. Sometimes you want more flavor and there are some unbelievable ones out there.”
When asked about the Holy Grail of tequilas, Eric cites two currently on his radar: Don Julio 1942 Añejo, which is aged in oak barrels; and Tears of Llorona, a $220 bottle of 100% blue agave, twice-barreled tequila from master distiller Germán Gonzalez. He says it is supposed to be rich, complex, and more like a high-end cognac.
Eric also uses agave syrup as a sweetener in drinks like the gin-based Green Giant, his cocktail du jour, which also features sugar snaps, tarragon, lemon juice, and vermouth.
Mixology vs Editing: Shot for Shot Parallels
Eric’s combination of charm and general wackiness is but the proverbial salt on the glass of Eric the Editor the Margarita: equal parts creative talent and experience with a twist of eccentricity and a splash of personal style – shaken, not stirred.
“Like a good bartender, Eric rolls with the punches and never gets hot under his Paul Smith collar,” says Shane. “And even though he’s really a Yank, he has that British stiff upper lip game face down, so even in stressful situations, he looks calm and collected.”
“Knowing how to make a good cocktail has always helped me,” concludes Eric. “I try to be on set for as many shoots as possible because I believe the editor is integral to the process from the outset. Wherever we travel for work, I always take my cocktail gear with me. So when you’re on set in Patagonia and you can’t get mezcal, you have Eric the fantastic editor.”
There’s a story behind everyone’s first art show. For some, it represents the realization of a long and winding creative pursuit. And for natural talents like Hooligan EP Sue Wladar, there’s a serendipitous magic to forming that creative path. After her well-received photography debut at the Country Living Fair at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY, the future is bright.
While the world is just getting to know Sue’s work, she has quietly honed her photographic aesthetic while digging ever deeper into the subjects of Americana over the last seven years. In Sue’s case, passion preceded the medium: long fascinated with ghost towns and the architecture of the old west, she discovered the joy of photographing these subjects during her travels to Colorado, New Mexico and Montana. As she documented these fading frontiers over the course of a couple of years, a series was naturally shaping.
“It really all started as a personal hobby through my need to be away from New York and explore the rest of America,” she says. “My adventures and journeys revealed an important purpose, which was to capture and preserve these buildings that have been left behind.”
The sepia-toned Super 35 photographs had only been seen by Sue’s close friends and family – until a friend of her sister who is affiliated with Country Living Magazine encountered one of them. Everyone agreed Sue’s photos needed exposure, so they got on the horn to book her first show at the Country Living Fair – her ghost town series would perfectly resonate alongside the rural, antique-geared event.
“It’s always difficult to show something so personal – and I never thought there would be this much interest,” says Sue. “Sure, it was scary, but it wasn’t enough reason to not share my work with such overwhelming support. My sister and I approached it as a team, which made everything easier. The whole experience has been encouraging, unexpected and fun.
Since her debut, inquiries have already come in from galleries and retailers – even a private commission to study a farmhouse in Red Hook, NY.
“My sister is helping out immensely, so maybe we’ll turn this into a little business,“ concludes Sue. “I even hope to do a book one day.”