Made using hand-crafted stop-motion collage animation, “Toys” tells the autobiographical father-daughter story of actress Peggy Pope. In 1930s farm country, Peggy’s father wanted a son, but he got her. He tries to toughen up his little girl by giving her toys intended for boys: knives, bats, lariats, guns. One day, he brings home an archery set. To his astonishment, she proves a savant and goes on a shooting spree around the yard, coming into her own and making him fear for his life. By accident, she shoots too close to him, narrowly missing his head with her speeding arrow. Time stops. He looks at her–afraid, amazed, and more than a little proud. It is the first moment in her life, she says, where she feels he actually sees her. The film is narrated by Peggy Pope, now 86 years old, looking back on this momentous encounter with her dad. “Toys” is made entirely by hand using paper dolls, cutout photographs, and vintage paper.
Summary info for schedule – will be hidden on film page
As a director, I am drawn to stories about parents and children, particularly the pivotal moment when a parent looks at a child and sees them as an individual for the first time. Peggy Pope’s poem so perfectly encapsulates that moment–in its uncertainty, danger, and poignancy. From the moment I read it, I knew I wanted to make it into a film.
TOYS is my first animated film. Animation seemed fitting because it is essentially a child’s story, and I wanted the film to look like a grown-up version of what a child could make. I chose cut-outs and stop-motion because of the purity and simplicity of the aesthetic. The process consisted of having actors act out the narrative against white walls, printing those photographs, cutting them out by hand to make hundreds of paper dolls, and re-assembling them against collage backdrops to photograph again.
I chose to have it narrated by Peggy (now 86 years old) because I liked the added meaning of an old woman looking back on this climactic moment in her life. We are implicitly reminded that her father is long gone, but this moment that passed between them lingers even into old age.