Gio Toninelo, the man behind GI Joe Fest and Pond Patrol, on movies and miniatures
In the small (literally) but fascinating world of people who make art using GI Joes, Gio Toninelo is pretty much a god. The founder and curator of GI Joe Fest, an international GI Joe-centric stop-motion film festival that branched out of Denver last year to locations as far-flung as Slovakia and Singapore, he got his start in 2005 with Pond Patrol, an internet serial drama that followed the exploits of Cpl. John U. Harris; lovingly rendered in Toninelo's intimate photography, it went viral within months of its inception. If you've ever wondered how to make stop motion animation, there's no better guy to learn from than Toninelo, and here's your chance.
This photo is basically blowing my mind right now.
Toninelo will represent this weekend at Build-A-Brickbuster Fest, a celebration of stop-motion animation with LEGOs curated by the Ones and Zeros Pixelshow's Dylan Otto Krider and judged by legendary king of underground animation Bill Plympton -- in fact, he'll be partnering up with ASIFA, the Colorado chapter of the International Animated Film Association, to present a workshop on stop-motion animation at 2 p.m. on Sunday, followed by a presentation of GI Joe films at 5 p.m. -- what Toninelo calls "the best of the best" of the GI Joe Fest.
Toninelo at work.
In advance, we caught up with Toninelo to ask him about his history with GI Joes and how he makes them look so good.
Westword: How did you get involved in this GI Joe film subculture?
Gio Toninelo: Boys will be boys, they're going to play with their toys, and some of them will make a film. I grew up with the 12-inch GI Joes, but I only had one of them; then, when I grew up, they kind of started coming back into style and I started seeing them on shelves again, and I just started collecting them, and one thing led to another.
If you think about it, really for stop-motion animation, GI Joe is the perfect armature -- they already have all the articulation points, so it's ready to animate. You know, with claymation or something like that, some people are not great sculptors.