Even if you don’t know his nom de guerre, it’s likely you’ve seen PES’ work on You Tube, or even just the old-fashioned tube—his short “Fresh Guacamole” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013, and his Honda commercial “Paper” was nominated for an Emmy in 2016. His
stop-motion films are imbued with wit, humor and grace,
and leave you wondering how he pulled them off.
His first film, a cheeky short called “Dogs of War,”
sprung from a casual observation while watching a
WWII doc on the History Channel that some aerial
bombs looked like hot dogs. Unlike much of PES’ later
work, it’s not animated; it really does appear that the
children are about to be bombarded by the planes’
aerial assault…until they open their hot dog buns, and
catch their dinner.
His concepts often come from a single, simple
idea that he builds upon: In “Roof Sex,” he ponders
what old furniture would do with some alone time; in
“KaBoom!,” he plays with circuit boards as aerial city
views; and in “Fresh Guacamole,” he transforms food
ingredients into their less-edible counterparts. The
genius of PES’ free-association style is that it doesn’t
depend on exact resemblance; in each film, there’s
just enough of a connection for the viewer to just
PES is always considering the potential longevity of his work. He avoids references to anything too
current—a PES film from 2006 can have just as much
impact in 2016. “I’m always looking for something that
is relevant now, but can strike people’s fancy in many
different ways and has different layers,” he explains.
Another key to his wild success has been his willingness to embrace the digital distribution model.
He says his contemporaries in the film festival circuit
scoffed at the idea of giving his films away for free, but
he saw the audience-building potential early on. And
after pirates racked up millions of views from posting
The Stop-Motion Maestro
STEP INSIDE THE WORLD OF FILMMAKER/DIRECTOR PES.
By MATTHEW ISMAEL RUIZ