Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Illustration by Mark Tavares

Hey Kids!

Just wanted to show that, as promised, I'm cooling the "Lone Wolf" act and asking some of my very talented friends to lend a hand with Phantom Harbor!

I've been putting a proposal together, and I thought that what would really spiff it up was a cool caricatured cover by none other than the "King of Caricatures" Mark Tavares!  Well, it really paid off!  Mark sent this to me late last week:
Okay, it is the low-rez version but you really get a sense of its magnificence when you click on it!

So, I have to say, in this public forum, "Thanks Mark!" It is really cool!  Love it!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey Kids!

So, here we are on another Thanksgiving; it's been a nutty year so far, and with just a few weeks left of 2012 (or a scant month away from the end of the world if you are a Mayan), I guess it is as good a time as any to take a moment and be thankful.

This year has been fairly balanced between good and not-so-good experiences.  As my former employer, Stan Winston would, I think I'll spend less time ruminating over the bad ones and instead focus on the good.

2012 saw the completion of a milestone for Phantom Harbor.  Of course, I'm talking about the "Rescue from Geckoniki Island" episode.  I've already blogged about what an incredible feat this was, seeing how much had to be made and filmed before it could come together the way it did.  But for me, it was more than just the completion of a thought I had proposed two years earlier.  It basically broke down the "imaginary dam" that was preventing Phantom Harbor from moving forward.

True, it would have been great to finish in August, and then move right into a Halloween episode. But, again, this year saw the first episode of "Crafting With the Cap'n" which now establishes Phantom Harbor as a place to check into from time to time, for cool, creepy craft ideas.  I happen to know another one is in the works and with any luck will be posted sometime in late December/early January.

But, without sounding too cliche, I have to recognize how thankful I am to have my family and close friends.  Very few of the people who have known me for years truly understand my relationship with my wife, Tracy.  I think (without being too much of an asshole) what eludes most people is that Tracy and I don't share a traditional American marriage.  We're not traditional American people.  Tracy is not just my wife; she is my best friend in the world.

We talk to each other the way that many people do, outside of their marriages to their best friends.  We share, we laugh, we cry, we experience life together and we try to support each other through our creative endeavors.  We have Molly, who is not just our daughter, but somehow, shares our lunatic lives with us.  We, thankfully, are a small but close-knit family.

I'm thankful that I keep learning; even if it is hard lessons.  I've learned that sometimes, I need to accept help when it is offered and not look upon accepting help as a failure.  I know.  Weird.  But it is true.  I've been lone-wolfing it for so long, I didn't see that I had become rigid and in some ways, selfish.  But I'm changing that.  Or, really trying to change it nonetheless.

Lastly, I have to thank each and every one of you that has supported Phantom Harbor since its inception in 2008.  It means so much that you check in to see what we're up to.  So, that said, what is going on?

I'm trying to go legit.  Not that I don't thoroughly enjoy making this little show in my garage, but the economy being what it is, I can't afford a hobby anymore.  That isn't to say that Phantom Harbor is going to go away any time soon.  No.  Far from it.  It just means that in order for me to sustain or exceed the production level I've finally been able to push the show to, I'm going to need some dough-rey-mi, if you know what I'm saying.

I've been authoring a proposal that will, with any luck, be done next week and in the hands of some folks who might be able to put it in front of folks, who know folks who might be interested in coming on board to help get this darned thing made.  I'll be honest.  It is my last roll of the dice in this arena.  If this doesn't make its mark, then I guess I really don't get it.

Will that be bad?  Nah.  It just means that Phantom Harbor will remain what it has been for the past 4 years, and that hasn't been bad at all.  But wouldn't it be fun if it did hit?  I'd like to think so.

In the spirit of accepting help, here's a request of you:  This Thanksgiving, when you're gathered with your family around whatever size table you're sitting at, around whatever size meal you're about to eat, and someone says, "Let's say grace," sneak a little prayer for a Christmas miracle for Phantom Harbor.  I couldn't thank you enough for that.

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why I've Been Silent for the Past Week

Hey Kids!

So, for the past week things fell silent at Phantom Harbor, mainly because I spent that time at the University of Virginia.  I had been invited by the Stan Winston School of Character Arts to participate in a three day workshop called "The Art of the Moving Creature."  I accompanied Matt Winston, SWSCA creative director/photographer John Ales, and my good friend, colleague, and incredible fabricator, Ted Haines.

Earlier this year, the 25 students from the Architecture, Fine Arts, and Drama Departments made prototype creatures out of plastic bags and chicken wire in preparation of building giant puppets for a "Monster Parade" in April of 2013!  This leg of the trip the objective was simple...challenging, but simple...Create a "finished" creature, based on one of the students designs, and have it camera ready in only three days.

After reviewing all of the students' designs, we settled on a centipede-type creature they called "Leggy-Breed".  Yes, we all knew that creating a 30 foot long, 15 foot tall creature would be nearly impossible for a three day build, but we also saw the potential of teaching the students how to fabricate sections that they could replicate after our workshop.  A plan was put into place, materials were purchased and the SWSCA representatives soon found themselves on a plane heading to Virginia.

During the flight, Ted and I had a heart-to-heart about what we thought we could ACTUALLY accomplish in such a short amount of time. If we got a head, body section and one pair of legs, we felt that we would have done our jobs and we'd put the students on a path that they could continue in our absence.  Boy, did we underestimate these students.

The traveling to and from Virginia could be a blog post in itself, but let us just cut to the chase.  The faculty, led by Steven Warner (Drama Dept.), Melissa Goldman (Architecture Dept.) and Eric Schmidt (Fine Arts Dept.) joined the 25 hand-picked students in the realization of the goal.  I could attempt to describe every incredible day, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:
Eric Schmidt rolls adhesive onto foam boards that will be glued together for carving giant insect legs.
Melissa Goldman, Matt Winston, Mathew Gordon, and Nathan Wiser carve a prototype leg in styrofoam.
Ted Haines demonstrates the finer points of foam fabrication to Lauren Shell while Brooks Beverstock and Evan Howell work on creature eyes.
Mark Gartzman and Vincente Arroyo install the PVC understructure into the main body section.
A row of carved legs await paint.
Once all of the legs were painted, the students turned their attention to...

...painting the body (Mark looks a bit lost here - maybe he was concerned about the creature's head)
Austin Manning installs the eyes while Lauren Chilton finishes the painting.
While the head was being completed, the puppeteers rehearsed with the body and then...
....they stormed the campus!!!
You can see the creature in action as it was featured in a local newscast here!

The bottom line is that I was VERY impressed with this group.  They did a heck of a job in what turned out to be about 2 1/2 days of building.  We instructors left them confidently; they know what they have to do to make the remainder of the creatures for their parade and they know it will only happen if they remain the well-oiled machine they were this past week.  I hope I can get back there next April to witness the spectacle in person.  I couldn't be prouder of them all.

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012 - Some Thoughts

Hey Kids!

So, here we are in the wake of another Halloween and I, for one, thought it was very rewarding.
True, I didn't put up about 40% of my outdoor decorations and my indoor decorations were only up for about 10 days (usually, I try to put them up October 1st so I can enjoy 31 days of creepy decor).  Also, I know our friends and families on the East Coast had a lot to deal with because of Hurricane Sandy and, trust me, my heart goes out to all of them.  Having grown up in Louisiana, I am NO stranger to hurricanes, and now living in Los Angeles, I'm ever-wary of Earthqu- well, you know whats!

Halloween fell on a Wednesday, and I'm sure lots of working parents just couldn't get home, or rouse themselves to walking the neighborhood with their kids as evidenced by much less Trick-or-Treaters than in the past.  It was a weird night.  And, it didn't take a genius to see more political signage on front lawns than pumpkins in surrounding areas, but in spite of all that - Halloween was a success.

For those kids who did come by, they had a brief encounter with the weird!  The combination of my home-made mask and home made tentacles really shocked the heck out of most of the folks and kids who came by. I have two encounters I must share.

My daughter, Molly, showed up a bit later in the evening, dressed as a Widow in Black, carrying three decapitated heads.  She sat on the front steps while I greeted the kids.  One little girl, she had to have been about 8 years old, stepped up and said, "I'm not afraid of ANYTHING!" I replied, "Oh, really?" and hit the button in my sleeve that shot three black tentacles out of my other sleeve.  She shrieked and then laughed.

Another three girls approached me and said, "You look funny." "Is THIS funny?!" I asked while launching the tentacles from my sleeve.  Their response was like something out of a movie.  All three girls stood, paralyzed, screaming at the top of their lungs!  They screamed so loudly, that my wife, Tracy, came out to see if everything was alright.  Again, they all broke down and laughed afterward.  See, to me that's what Halloween is all about.

I can recall at least a half a dozen incidents that occurred when I was a kid, when someone in Gretna, Louisiana went the extra distance.  One way or the other, they had created an atmosphere, or a yard haunt that forever stuck in my psyche.  You know, when I REALLY think about it, I believe that it has been Halloween more than movies and television that affected me and inspired me to make monsters for a living.

At one point, during a calm between gaggles of families, I sat by myself on the step, butt freezing, tethered to an air hose, only able to see clearly out of one eye, holding a bowl of candy in my lap and I thought: I'm fifty years-old.  But I realized I didn't feel stupid, or like I was wasting my time.  Oh ,no.  I may have been fifty that night, but I felt about 12 years-old;  I was a prankster - a TRICKSTER - and the kids and their parents were loving it.

Today, as I took all of the decorations down, I didn't feel any remorse.  Halloween 2012 had been good.  I know, that for some of the kids in my neighborhood, they'll grow up always remembering the night they met the creepy guy with the tentacles in his arm.  Who knows, maybe they'll grow up thinking of ways to scare the kids in their neighborhoods.  I hope so.  Like I said, I think that's what Halloween is all about.  Passing the torch to new generations of people who will go the extra mile to scare the heck out of kids!

You can get a taste of what it was like here: The Cap'n field tests his Halloween Mask

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Anniversary PHANTOM HARBOR!

Hey Kids!

So, it was a short 4 years ago that the world was introduced to a spooky stretch of beach on a forgotten cove somewhere in limbo known as PHANTOM HARBOR.

With no money, limited technology, a lot of imagination and drive, we shot our first episode in two days in our one-car garage, here in Highland Park, California.  Not 100% sure of what I was hoping to do, the first episode was much more atmospheric and limited in terms of animation. At the time I had no idea of how much work it was going to be; thank God I didn't, because I might have given up before I tried!

I had a lot of great people helping me out including my wife, Tracy, who stepped in and directed my performance. She came into the garage and witnessed me doing a really bad Orson Wells impersonation as the Captain and helped me figure out who The Captain really was.  Mike Deak not only helped puppeteer the Goblin, but helped me figure out how to shoot him using no rods.  The compositing was sketchy, but a conversation with Everett Burrell helped guide me to new software that has greatly improved our composite shots.

However, for the first episode I do need to single out Derek Krout and Patricia Urias (Venuto) who ran the foam rubber in the Goblin mold for me.  They did an incredible job and four years later, I'm still using the same puppet:

Sculpting away!  Boy, look how skinny I was - time to lose some weight!
Every wanted to know what a naked Goblin looks like?
Molding in Ultracal 30.
And now, some videos that I don't think anyone in the world has seen besides me.  Here are Derek and Patricia opening the mold and checking out the puppet:
A little hair, a little paint and he was all done, ready to shoot!
Look how beautiful he is!
He was supposed to be a "Boo!" at the end of the first episode but was so iconic that he became the Cap'n's number 2, right-hand man...well, Goblin! 

And the episode?  If you haven't seen it (or haven't seen it in a long time) check it out here:
Phantom Harbor Pilot Episode (2008)

Thanks everyone for joining us on our voyage!  There is so much more to come so keep tuning in and checking the blog for updates and specials.

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor.

Shannon Shea

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Treat #5 - Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman at the Alex Theater

Hey Kids,

So this Saturday, the historic Alex Theater in Glendale, California became a political stomping ground for two last-minute candidates for the presidency of the United States -
The Wolfman (Dan Roebuck) debated Frankenstein's Monster (Perry Shields)
The Wolfman is a "Lycancrat" and runs on the "Transform" platform, where Frankenstein's monster is running on the "Strength" platform as the Electrican candidate.  They had very different opinions on what to do about renewable energy (The Wolfman favored harnessing the power of the moon, while The Monster favored lightning strikes).  You can check out there platforms here:
It was a fantastic show AND a great opportunity to see FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN on film, on the big screen!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Friday, October 26, 2012

HALLOWEEN TREAT #4 - Jasper Anderson's Animated TOMBSTONES!

Hey Kids!

The Cap'n received an e-mail the other day from young Jasper Anderson who has come up with something VERY cool!  If you have a small video projector and a store bought or homemade tombstone, then you can have an ANIMATED TOMBSTONE!

Check out his video:
So, what Jasper has done is animated some incredible effects that, when projected onto one of your
own tombstones, really make it come to life...if that's possible!  For a small fee, you can download
the animations - So you still have time to add that little "oomf" to your yard haunt!

For more information check out his blog at: Mr. Chicken's Haunt and THANKS JASPER for sharing this!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HALLOWEEN TREAT #3 - Craftin' with the Cap'n

Hey Kids!

So, as you can see, the third treat from Phantom Harbor is a quick tutorial about making a papier mache mask!  Okay, so it isn't necessarily "quick" but follow the instructions and you, too, can have a groovy custom mask!  HURRY, there's still time:

PHANTOM HARBOR: Craftin' with the Cap'n - Episode 1 from Shannon Shea on Vimeo.

Grab some supplies and customize your own mask this weekend!
Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea


Hey Kids!

This evening we're all excited about a new feature here at the Harbor called: "Craftin' with the Cap'n" where our beloved Cap'n will demonstrate some spooky, creepy, creative crafts!

First up: Papier Mache Masks!  Now, don't be intimidated.  With a little money, a little time, and a lot of imagination, you STILL have time to make a cool mask for this Halloween!  So tune in this evening and check out the show.

The lesson is long, but shorter than a Bob Ross episode!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!
Shannon Shea

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Hey Kids!

So what do you think the Captain found in his email today?  Two NEW drawings by a young fan in Winter Garden, Florida.

They were drawn EXPERTLY by one, Jessica Roddy, 10 years old!  Check them out!

Love the bolts, love the scars, but I love the expression on the mouth and the saggy eyelids!
I don't know where to begin!  LOVE the striped shirt, the pink eyes, the lapel button, and the FANGS!
Jessica's drawings will become part of the PHANTOM HARBOR GALLERY next month when the site gets updated again!  We'd also like to extend special thanks to her parents for taking the time to send her art in and for raising such a wonderful talented young lady! 

The Captain sent Jessica a thank you email and encourages young artists, writers, and filmmakers to send MORE work to him. It's easier than falling off a log.  Just write: TheCaptain@PhantomHarbor.com, embed the images or links, or attach them.  We're all looking forward to seeing MORE!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Saturday, October 20, 2012

SPOOKY TIME Retrospective

Hey Kids!

Since it is Halloween and we've been hoping that Haunters will emerge from their graves, crypts, haunted houses, lairs, etc. to share their projects, we decided we'd give this a kick-start.

Years ago, while working at KNB EFX group, Brian Goerhing and Joe Giles began handing out DVD's to their co-workers of a Spook Show they had produced called "Spooky Time at the Wormwood Mortuary."
Utilizing purposefully crude effects, costumes and puppets, they created an out-of-control world with their friends that upon viewing, was beyond hilarious.

When you set out to produce something like this, whether you are cognoscente of it or not, you invent rules for your universe and the more outlandish, the bigger risk you take that the show won't work.  Goerhing and Giles, joined by Steve Hartman, Lino Stavole, Joe Gomez and others pulled out all of the stops and went for it.  The result works so well, you should see for yourself here:

I must admit, that when I saw it, I went a bit crazy with enthusiasm!  Even with the audio problems, I could not have enjoyed their show more!  I literally begged to be on their show in some capacity, I loved it so much.

What I discovered was that Spooky Time didn't have a "home" - it was a floating show.  The guys just waiting until someone donated a space for them to shoot and then they would appear with their props, makeup and costumes and do the show.  Had I had a bigger facility and if I hadn't been prepping for PHANTOM HARBOR, I probably would have suggested my garage.

In any case, the boys produced a few more episodes, but were having difficulty getting all of their personnel and resources together.  I suggested that they come to PHANTOM HARBOR as guests and they jumped at the chance.  Brian and Joe said that they were happy that someone else would think of the situations and dialogue and then take care of all of the editing and post work.  They would just be able to kick back and have fun.  And did we have fun!

The Spooky Time Guys visit PHANTOM HARBOR!

They were so incredibly generous with their time - they brought their "Spooky Time Bat" which was puppeteered by the incredible Mike Deak (Mike Deak's YouTube Channel).

Having the guys agree to come over, inspired our first true "Halloween Special" (okay, we've done two, we want to do more, but something always seems to prevent it now!). If you haven't seen it, watch it here:
Phantom Harbor Halloween Show from Shannon Shea on Vimeo.

We totally miss Brian and Joe (and now that Joe is a "star" from his experiences on THE WALKING DEAD, I don't think we'll be seeing Grimley back at the Harbor any time soon), we wish them continued luck and success, keep our fingers crossed for another Spooky Time episode.  Check out their videos here:
Spooky Time Videos.

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Movies

Hey Kids,

So we sat down with the creeps from Phantom Harbor to discuss what they would recommend for viewing this Halloween season!

The Goblin went first:

(TRANSLATED) - My choices are 

1.) Legend of Boggy Creek - Good, creepy, creature
2.) The Abominable Snowman of the Himilayas
3.) Creepshow - particulary the "Jordy Verrill" sequence
4.) Disney's Pinocchio - the Pleasure Island scene is a good nightmare
5.) Murders in the Rue Morgue

When asked what drove his selections, he said: "Anything with big, hulking, hairy creatures in it is good."

Next we spoke with Captain Keller:

"Normally, I don't go in for all that sort of dreck, but if I don't speak up, I'll be forced to have to suffer under the whims of someone with far less taste than me.  So, since you're putting a hypothetical flintlock to my temple, I'll make some selections."

1.) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - A ghostly, attractive, exciting ship's Captain meets a lovely widow
2.) The Portrait of Jenny - A ghost contacts an artist that leads them to a lighthouse on a stormy shore.
3.) The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake - I don't know why this tale of voodoo and shrunken heads appeals to ME, but it does.
4.) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - the one with James Mason.  Good ship's captain, like the way he handled his crew and situations
5.) Salem's Lot - again, with James Mason.  Something about Mason's voice is comforting and disquieting at the same time

Finally, Captain McAllister made some choices:

For Halloween, the viewing choices are best when they include the biggest names in outstanding horror movie production juxtaposed with classic Halloween subject matter.

So, my choices would be:

1. The Haunting (the one directed by Robert Wise) -
So, first for Halloween we have GHOSTS!

2. Dracula - Prince of Darkness
For my money nothing beats Christopher Lee and the Kensington gore of old Hammer Films.  So, second we have VAMPIRES!

3. Frankenstein
Universal Monster's greatest creation!  Frankenstein is nearly synonymous with the word "monster."
Third we have FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER as played by Boris Karloff, the best!

4. Burn, Witch, Burn
This somewhat obscure British film concerns witchcraft and you really can't have Halloween without WITCHES!

5. Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon

6. House on Haunted Hill
Technically, THE HAUNTING could be considered a HAUNTED HOUSE movie, but producer WILLIAM CASTLE was a master at fun, thrilling movies and to me this could be the ultimate, classic, HAUNTED HOUSE film!

7. Pit and the Pendulum
Having Halloween without VINCENT PRICE and EDGAR ALLEN POE in a ROGER CORMAN film is like turning your lights out and not giving candy to trick-or-treaters.

8. George Romero's Dawn of the Dead
Really, the defining film concerning ZOMBIES.  There would be no WALKING DEAD without this film.  Frightening, gory, and full of social commentary.

9. Mario Bava's Black Sabbath
Colorful Horror, Italian style with a collection of short films that range from creepy to nightmare inducing.  You can't have Halloween without an ANTHOLOGY.

Director, Sam Raimi's masterpiece is a thrill ride and what would Halloween be without a story of DEMONIC POSSESSION?

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

Okay, so for the next couple of weeks when you are stumped and looking for something to get under your skin, why not check out one of the films recommended by the Phantom Harbor spooks?

Until Next time, I'll see you at the Harbor.

Shannon Shea


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Introducing Phantom Harbor Halloween TREATS!

Hey Kids -

Just wanted to let you know that over the coming days, expect to see some short features from your friends at Phantom Harbor for the Halloween season!

In lieu of producing another lengthy Halloween special, the Captain and his pals will instead be posting smaller segments featuring subjects of interest all pertaining to the spookiest time of the year!

Want to be included?  Contact TheCaptain@phantomharbor.com, let him know what you are up to and he'll get in touch with you right away! Happy Halloween!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Music

Hey Kids!

We caught up with the Captain and asked him to tell us what his favorite Halloween albums were, here is his response:

Ahoy!  Yes, it is that time of year when a frosty breeze slips through the air bringing with it the fragrance of autumn leaves and cinnamon!  Halloween is nearly upon us and during this month, I like to listen to some of my favorite Halloween Records!

5. What would Halloween be without Disney's THRILLING CHILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE?  This album really shook the old Cap'n when he was a mere cabin boy!  The screams and moans of the undead punctuated with thunder, wind and rain!  Frightening!  AND introduced by a weird narrator? Man? Woman? Who knows?

4. MONSTER MASH AND SOUNDS OF TERROR! This old record was the first time the old Cap'n heard Jack the Ripper stabbing a victim to death!  The echo-y screams on it became the soundtrack to my youthful nightmares!  The cover of the song "The Monster Mash" is fine, but once the tune is over, prepare for some real audio TERROR!

3. DAWN OF THE DEAD soundtracks.  Yes, nothing is unnerving quite as much as hearing Goblin's electronic soundtrack to George Romero's classic tale of zombies!  It may be just me, but the visual images of this film were so embedded in my brain that the moment I hear the music cues, I'm transported right back into the theater, experiencing that terror all over again...And if you love this record may I recommend this:

The "Mall Music" alone is worth the listen!

2. GHOUL-A-RAMA - Instant Halloween...seriously.  This comes in 2nd Place only because I prefer the song collection on the companion record:

1. SPOOK PARTY - Like Ghoul-a-Rama, this collection of songs, sound effects, and surprises could put you into the Halloween mood on December the 25th!  I can't count the times I've listened to this collection and have been transported to a dark world of ghosts and monsters!  Oh wait!  I'm already here!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:  Custom Collections sent to the Cap'n from two friends TRULY top the list.  J.Michael Roddy's Halloween Collections that he sends out yearly are always an incredible Halloween Treat.  As well as, the Haunting collections of former GHASTLY ONE member, Norman Cabrerra who is truly a Halloween Audio aficionado.  Their collections play almost constantly around here all year long!

The Captain with J. Michael Roddy, director of THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING and the upcoming MONSTER KIDS
Norman Cabrera working on HELLBOY!  The man's got talent and LOVES Halloween!
 Put some spooky music on and get inspired!

Your humble Captain,

Jonas McAllister

There you have it!  Halloween Audio treats to get you into the spirit this season!  Who knows, maybe one day someone will convince the Captain and crew to make their own Halloween Record?!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Now that the cat is offically out of the bag....

Hey Kids!

No doubt you have watched the latest episode of Phantom Harbor...I've been belly-aching about it now for years so if you haven't, you owe it to yourself to see what all the grousing was about!  Please...help support the show by watching it.  I know most/all of you that read this blog do anyway, so THANKS!

Okay, now that the cat is out of the bag I can share photos of Cap'n Keller!  I sculpted him in brown plastillna clay (yes, the cheap stuff...someone gave me tons of it so why buy something else, right?)

Here is the sculpture being roughed out.
Refining shapes, clay stitching to get an idea of the final piece.
The final sculpt!
I made a two piece Ultracal 30 mold (yes, I'm paying for that now) and cored it with aluminum-filled epoxy.  At the time, I was working at KNB EFX and I believe Derek Krout ran the foam assisted by Patricia Urias (DAMN IT! FORGOT TO THANK THEM!).

Laying up the clay wall to make the mold.
 A quick mold of the core was made with plaster bandage and I ran a thin fiberglass core.  I had contacted Henson Studios animatronic expert and friend John Criswell to ask if he could do some rudimentary mechanics.  He said he would use some left over bits and pieces and do what he could.

Meanwhile, I seamed and painted the hero skin.  When John returned with the mechanics he had OUT DONE himself!  Utilizing three old servo motors and an old, banged up radio transmitter, John had given life to the puppet. A two axis jaw mechanism (which means it moves up and down as well as side-to-side), and little eyelids to strain uncomfortably against the stitches!  He glued the hero skin down onto the mechanism and returned it to me so I could do the hair work.

During the painting process, I'd bring the skin to the set and check it in the stylized lighting to make sure that it read.
 I bought an old gray wig from a costume store, cut a small section of the wig at the crown, glued it onto Cap'n Keller's scalp and punched the rest of the hair around the hair line.  Then he was finished off by gluing stitches (rather than sewing through the skin) onto the lips and lids and then fired him up!

Casting the character of Cap'n Keller was a long process.  Originally, I had pegged long-time friend and performer Alec Gillis (co-founder of ADI Studios) to play Keller's voice.  I had always imagined Keller having a James Mason-esque quality.  But as the months wore on and schedules shifted, I approached Emmy-Award winning prosthetic make-up artist and composer of the Phantom Harbor theme, Andy Schoneberg to play Keller.  Andy has a naturally resonant voice (go watch Mike Deak's short films on youtube - somemannerof channel and you'll hear what I mean).  But alas, shifts in schedules etc. prevented this collaboration as well.

The night of the shooting, I had asked my daughter, Molly to come to the house and puppeteer.  During the evening, she was doing a very good imitation of James Mason.  So good that our director, Tracy Shea, suggested to figure out a way to use Molly's performance.  That is when Cap'n Keller REALLY came into his own.

I re-recorded Molly reading Keller's lines and in the editing program, re-pitched her voice lower and added a slight reverb to it.  A star was born!

Like the show, Keller was A LOT of work all on his own and through a series of misadventures and unexpected twists, what we finally got was so much better than we anticipated.

Keller in an early lighting test.
"Why, I oughtta!"
So, there it is!  Finally, I can truly share with all of you!  Again, thanks so much for being so patient and supportive.  PLEASE recommend the site and stories to your family and friends and...

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Hey Kids,

Now that this is done, I can loosen my belt a little, slow down, and really look around and appreciate how this all came to be.

During the shoot of the film PREDATORS in Austin, Texas, my long-time friend and colleague, Gino Crognale, suggested that I shoot as much footage at that location for PHANTOM HARBOR for no other reason than it got the character off of the set and into an exotic location.

The Art Department on PREDATORS led by Steve Joyner and Caylah Eddleblutte had built what was an impressive exotic jungle set and with their permission, we grabbed my little Hi-8 videotape camera (yes, before digital!) and we began to shoot with no story in mind. 

I knew, however, two things: Exotic jungles need headhunters and there was no way I was going to be able to hire a bunch of actors to portray headhunters for my humble show.  The idea of making puppets hit me and soon the concept of a Geckoniki had been born.  Truthfully, it was such a seat-of-the-pants idea that in unused footage, the Captain keeps mispronouncing the word!

I asked Robert Rodriguez if we could shoot some elements on his massive green screen stage and I'll never forget his question: "How big will your crew be?"  My answer: "Just Gino and me."  "Oh, " he responded, "Go ahead then."  So one Sunday Gino, Dave Wogh (who had been making props on location for Phantom Harbor with little more than rubber bands, tape, and whatever he could find) went onto the green screen stage to shoot. 

As luck would have it, one of Robert's trusted collaborators, cinematographer Jimmy Lindsey, was there, knew us from our past work, and offered a couple of Kino Flo lights to light the stage!  Shooting could commence.  At the end of the day, we had all sorts of footage including the Captain in a boat that had been lent by the Art Department along with a fishing pole.  Elements were coming together, but not a clear story.

One night, I cooked up this story about a missing sea Captain, Captain Keller, and that at least gave us a template for shooting when we left Troublemaker Studios and headed for the forests of Austin.  Again, with no rhyme or reason we began shooting the Captain darting through trees, calling for Captain Keller, etc. and I kept thinking: "How the heck am I going to put all of this together?"

The show wrapped and Gino went back to Pennsylvania while Dave and I returned to Los Angeles.  I had so much footage to now sift through, and a script I had typed and printed in Austin to sort of go by in assembling the episode.  I was able to cut together what I considered Part 1 of the episode entitled "A Cry from Captain Keller" and posted it on Vimeo in 2010.

I was so full of optimistic energy that I was SURE I could complete part 2 in a matter of weeks.  I gave myself 2 months and started building.  I had no idea.

During this time, www.phantomharbor.com was getting "Birthday Requests" (which I thought was a great idea to increase awareness of the site and show) so The Captain was making appearances there and in a couple of Halloween Specials (that I so love doing...again, we'll have to wait for 2013 for a BIG special!) but I always felt that the Captain really was still on Geckoniki island.

If you've been following the blogs, then you know how much I had to accomplish just to create part 2.  Geckoniki puppets (rod and hand versions), Captain Keller, miniatures, props,sets and then shooting, shooting, shooting...What am I saying?  Then, EDITING, EDITING, EDITING!

My original intention was just to pick up the action on Geckoniki Island as soon as The Captain had hit shore, but in thinking about it, that would mean that Captain Keller would not be introduced until the end of the show and he is such a great character, I didn't want to waste him as a "boo" at the end of the show.

I realized I could do a rewrite, make the entire episode basically a flashback, and feature Captain Keller throughout the entire thing.  This meant that some footage I shot would become redundant and unusable while new footage would be needed to pin the entire story together.  Trust me, it's no way to make a movie.

So now it is done.  You've been with me on this voyage for nearly TWO YEARS! And, yes, I'll be resting for a bit.  A BIT!  But we're coming back soon with more fun!  Thanks again for your patience and support.  I really, really could not do this without you all!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

P.S. - What are you standing around reading this for?  Go watch the episode!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Hey Kids...

Not much more to say.  Slow rendering.  Hope to post soon!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

The Calm Before The Storm

Hey Kids -

Yes, you've heard very little from the creepy shores of Phantom Harbor recently and that's because yours truly has been up to his ears in post production.  I'm sure I sound like the boy who cried 'Wolf" but trust me when I say that any day now "The Rescue from Geckoniki Island" will be posted.

A little over a week ago (it seems like an eternity, trust me), friend and performer Mark McCracken joined Mark Tavares and me for a Geckoniki/Goblin/Corpse puppeteering marathon!  It was a fantastic shoot and within a day, the Geckonikis began being cut into the movie.

I had hoped to arrange for Alec Gillis (co-founder of ADI and "Hotel Superman" star) to play the voice of Captain Keller.  I had also offered the role to Phantom Harbor theme composer Andy Schoneberg but my schedule and their schedules were out of sync.  On the night we shot the puppet, my daughter, Molly Shea performed Capt. Keller and so, based on her brilliant performance, I recorded her voice and altered it in post to play the cranky, James Mason-esque character.

So, dropping in sound effects, cutting scenes, finishing credit rolls, and hoping to get this posted soon.  You've all been so patient; I thank you!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Postponed does NOT mean cancelled!

Hey Kids!

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men...(you know the old cliche, right?  Good, because I only know the first part and its implications).  I had EVERY intention of finishing and posting this next Phantom Harbor episode tonight, Sunday September, 30, 2012.  But...it was not to be.

I would give a list of excuses, but in my experience, the less said the better.  Just know this.  I am almost, nearly done and I'm sure you would agree that taking a few more days (getting it right, making it great) is better than just compromising for the sake of a random release date, only to cringe when certain scenes unfolded because I knew that they could have been better.


Without getting on a soap box too much, I would love to remind everyone what the world was like before TV challenge shows like Project: Runway, or Food Network Challenge.  Making designer clothes or a fine meal took as much time as was needed to complete the project well.  I think we live in a "Rodeo Mentality" where we wonder just how much COULD be accomplished given an arbitrary amount of time.

Well, Phantom Harbor is not fodder for this philosophy.  Not this time.  I want to...no, scratch that...I NEED to make this everything it can be and I am not just doing it for me.  I am doing it for all of you!  I don't want you to feel shortchanged and I'm doing everything in my power to see to your entertainment and visual satisfaction.

Be patient.  It is SO much closer than you think.  It's...right...there...I can feel it with the tips of my fingers!

So until next time (very soon, I hope), I'll see you at the Harbor.

Shannon Shea

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When in doubt, make a cave miniature (Part Deux)

Hey Kids -

FYI, this is what the cave looked like lit, smoked with a fogger and photographed...

It's a bit dark, but...it is a cave, right?
Okay, done sharing for the day! 
Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

When in doubt, make a cave miniature

Hey Kids -

So today was SUPPOSED to be the big puppet shooting day, but unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, it had to be cancelled. 

Did that stop me?  For a second, yes.  I had everything ready for a day of shooting and suddenly, I had to shift gears and figure out what else I hadn't done yet.  Then in occurred to me: I had yet to build my Geckoniki cave miniature.  I could have a dozen puppet shots, but if I didn't have the miniature cave to matte them into, then I had exactly nothing. 

Now, to do this RIGHT, I would have spent a few days carving foam, making a great wooden structure, etc., but let's face it...I don't have the TIME!  So, I went to Michaels, picked up some foam core, and stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few rolls of heavy duty aluminum foil and went to work!
I started by hot gluing the foam core in a semi-circle onto a piece of black illustration board I had lying around...
Then I spray-glued crumpled aluminum foil to the foam core...
When I got to almost to the top of the foam core, I glued a big piece of cardboard on top...
Once the entire inner surface was covered in foil, I sealed a lot of the trouble seams with spray insulation foam...
Once the foam dried, I based the entire cave with flat black spray paint...
I dusted the inside with that Krylon "Stone Texture" beige spray paint and LOOKA THAT!  Instant CAVE!
So, once it is COMPLETELY dry, I'll light it to match the set; see the little hole at the top where the light is coming in?  Once I smoke up the set with my Halloween smoker, I'm hoping to get a groovy light beam!

Workin' away!  Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I, Matte Painter

Hey Kids!

Sorry it has taken me so long to come back and update you since my 100th blog posting, but I finished the cave set, video-ed (filmed, shot, whatever) myself on it, and then took the footage back home to check it out.

During the shoot, I got the idea that I would get nutty, pull the camera back to an uncomfortable distance and shoot "off the set" which I would attempt to fill in later with a matte painting.  I did, I did, and I did!
Check out the before and after:

The foreground rocks get blurred accordingly in After Effects
More VFX elements were added and I must say that I'm proud of the overall effect!  Still more to do! Hey, but the postcards are at the printers.  I saw a proof yesterday and the printer was so excited by the artwork.  He told me it reminded him of "Land of the Lost"!  Mission accomplished!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor.

Shannon Shea

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Postcard "Sketch"

Hey Kids!

So, here is the preliminary design for the new Phantom Harbor postcards I hope to be sending to the printers this week:

I do miss the days when Frank McCarthy was painting movie posters; sadly I'm no Frank McCarthy!

The painting is mostly finished.  There are some elements I need to clean up.  The copy, again, is a sketch.  Might need something a little more punchy!  What do you think? 

Anyway, back to the easel to finish this baby up!  I have a feeling that the Captain will post the finish art on his facebook page (friend "Jonas McAllister).

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guest Puppeteer!

Hey Kids!

Yesterday, the great Mark Tavares made himself available to assist with some puppeteering duties for the upcoming episode.  Those of you who don't know who he is, should know that he and his partner Brett Dewey are responsible for the cool zombie stuff you see at stores like Spencer Gifts and Hot Topic!  Check out their site here: http://www.humerusonline.com/

Mark, an incredible artist and creature effects artist in his own right, proved himself invaluable in puppeteering and I must admit that now I'm spoiled!  He agreed to come back next week to help out with some other characters (if you've been paying attention, you know what I'm talking about). 

Anyway, big thanks to Mark, here he is prepping "something".  You'll just have to wait and see -

Look at him go!
We've been shooting these elements at my daughter, Molly's, studio at Raid Projects in Los Angeles.  She has been generous enough to support her old man in his creative dementia.  I start building a "cave" set in the studio on Friday!  Whoo-hoo!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tailor to a GOBLIN?

Hey Kids!

Well, wouldn't you know it? The Goblin just HAD to have his own coat.  I can't figure out why since he's all covered in fur anyway, but you know how the saying goes: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  And there was some major squeaking!

So, I whipped up a quick pea coat for him and I must say that it will be great for the next show!  Take a look:

Eat your heart out Project: Runway!  This was made in record time!
So now he's got his coat on, and it is still warm outside; there are few things worse than sweaty, smelly goblins!

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea