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Portland’s Pinocchio Connection

Get ready for Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio at the Portland Art Museum by hearing from local stop motion animation powerhouse ShadowMachine.

Presented by Portland Art Museum May 23, 2023

Guillermo del Toro on the set of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Jason Schmidt and Netflix

Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio, opening June 10 at the Portland Art Museum, is a celebration and exploration of the inventiveness, passion, and artistic cooperation that goes into making a cinematic vision come to life.

This eagerly awaited special exhibition showcases the collaborative art, craft, and storytelling of the film Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, which has been acclaimed as a masterpiece since its release in late 2022. The exhibition will immerse audiences in its world, featuring iconic creatures, set pieces, stop-motion animation technology, and fantastical visual and sound elements.

Mackinnon & Saunders. Pinocchio Production Puppets with rigging, 2019-2020. 3D printed resin, 3D printed steel, steel, silicone, fabric, paint. 4 x 3 x 9.5″ (10.2 x 7.6 x 24.1 cm). Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Netflix

The Museum’s presentation of Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio expands on the richness of the local stop-motion animation community by giving visitors a look inside the artists’ process. The exhibition and programs will give special attention to the talent and creative collaboration of the local cinematic animation artists at ShadowMachine—a renowned stop-motion animation studio based here in Portland.

Below, ShadowMachine co-founder Alex Bulkley shares more about who ShadowMachine is, the studio’s deep connection and commitment to Portland artists, and how they maintained connection, “outside-the-box creativity,” and innovation during a time of COVID to bring this story world to life. 

Tell us about ShadowMachine—what is it and why is it important to have it here in Portland?

ShadowMachine. Columbina Production Puppet, 2019-2020. Steel, wire, resin, paint, fabric, brass. 3.5 x 3.5 x 9″ (8.9 x 8.9 x 22.8 cm). Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Netflix

Alex Bulkley: ShadowMachine is an award-winning animation studio that specializes in world-building and comedy-craft. The company’s 2015 expansion into the Pacific Northwest provided the unique opportunity to work within one of the most exciting and powerful animation communities on earth. Portland, Oregon, is home to some of the best stop-motion artists, animators, designers, and technicians working in the format today.

How did you become involved in Pinocchio?

Left to right: Mark Gustafson and Guillermo del Toro on the set of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Jason Schmidt and Netflix

Alex Bulkley: In 2012, Lisa Henson from the Jim Henson Company introduced us to Guillermo del Toro. After a brief visit to our Los Angeles-based animation studio, the synergy with Guillermo was clear. His adaptation of Pinocchiowas born through an amazing collaboration with The Jim Henson Company, ShadowMachine, and ultimately, Netflix.

What was it like to work with Guillermo and the team, especially during COVID?

Mackinnon & Saunders. Oversized Cricket Production Puppet with rigging, 2019-2020. 3D printed resin, steel, silicone, paint, printed eyes. 3 x 4 x 11″ (7.6 x 10.2 x 27.9 cm). Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Netflix

Alex Bulkley: Guillermo’s vision for Pinocchio attracted not only the great talents of Mark Gustafson, but the most incredible crew including world-renowned puppet builder Georgina Hayns, the amazing cinematographer Frank Passingham, award-winning composer Alexandre Desplat, art director Rob DeSue, and production designers Guy Davis and Curt Enderle,
amongst others.

It was an absolute dream team, which made the process of production that much more exciting and meaningful—it was artistic performance at its highest level. As directors, Guillermo and Mark required 100% from the crew 100% of the time, and the crew delivered. Guillermo is a master filmmaker, and given that this was his first time directing an animated film, his collaboration with Gustafson provided a critical balance in both story and execution.

What none of us could ever anticipate or had experienced before was the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did we continue production despite this major disruption, but with the incredible support of Netflix and the sheer will of the crew, I believe the film came out stronger in spite of it.

This film is a testament to the fortitude, resilience, determination, out-of-the-box creativity, and great camaraderie that blossomed in the face of disaster. I’m not sure who to attribute this quote to, but it became a production mantra on this film and couldn’t be more true of our process: “Extracting beauty from adversity.”

Visit, engage, and make!

Mackinnon & Saunders. In progress Pinocchio Production Puppets at the ShadowMachine workshop. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Netflix

Portlanders and tourists will have an abundance of opportunities to revel in the stop-motion life and celebrate Guillermo del Toro’s genius this summer.

Mackinnon & Saunders. Geppetto and Pinocchio Production Puppets, 2019-2020. Geppetto: steel, foam latex, silicone, resin, fabric, fiber, plastic. 4 x 4 ¾ x 14″ (10.2 x 12.1 x 35.6 cm). Pinocchio: 3D printed resin, 3D printed steel, steel, silicone, paint. 4 x 3 x 9.5″ (10.2 x 7.6 x 24.1 cm). Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, 2022.

Image: Netflix

Events and activities include:

Discovering del Toro Film Series
June 23 - 25

Animation Art Days
June 25, July 15, August 13, September 10

Free screenings of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
w/ paid admission

June 19 - August 18


Free admission for kids age 17 and under

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