Stop motion animation is one of the simplest–and most addictive–forms of animation. Although time consuming, it is very enjoyable and advances in technology–like apps–have made it easier than ever for people to be creative and share their projects via social media. A company called Zing recently released a line of “Stop motion toys” called StikBots which are fabulous tools for anyone of any age who partakes in stop motion. Aside from creating and selling StikBots, Zing Toys also actively encourages creativity and readily promotes videos that are created using their products. Due to the innovative nature of Zing toys and StikBots, it is not surprising that they attracted the attention of voice actor and animator Edward DeBoy.
Edward DeBoy was born and raised in Bend, Oregon. After becoming fascinated by movies at a young age, his first instinct was to become an actor but upon taking a video editing class in high school Edward decided that he liked working behind the scenes more than on screen. He went on to work at every TV station in Central Oregon in many different departments but especially enjoyed directing the morning news. Yet Edward still wasn’t satisfied since he knew he wanted to do more. He subsequently moved to Portland Oregon and found work on “Leverage” and “Grimm”. Whilst there, he met people who shared his passion for film.
At present, Edward works as a stop motion animator and creates a series of YouTube videos for the Zing Toy Company starring the StikBots. Ironically, this partnership has enabled Edward to fulfill his childhood dream of being an actor via his hyper-crazed “Dr. Z” character who is a popular feature on the StikBot webisodes, in face, Edward has even had the honor of traveling to toy fairs with Zing and acting out the roll of Dr. Z throughout such events.
A clever and witty writer, Edward’s StikBot interview series features a talk-show-host StikBot speaking to ”guests” which are typically other famous toys. These little episodes amass thousands of views and have directly helped spread the word about the StikBot brand and interest in stop-motion animation overall. Despite his success and busy schedule, Edward DeBoy was kind enough to take some time to speak with the Examiner about his experiences working in stop motion and in the entertainment industry in general:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired you to become a voice actor?
Edward DeBoy (E.D.): I believe my inspiration with voice acting came from my friends and family. I’d break out in different characters/voices at random during conversations, ever since I was a kid, just to make people laugh or even get a small chuckle out of them. My first job in high school I was a courtesy clerk at a grocery store, I was always told by the other employees that I was like a cartoon character because of my “bubbly” personality. Over time I practiced different voices and ways to manipulate my voice in funnier ways, just to get people to laugh.
M.M.: How did you get into writing?
E.D.: My favorite form of storytelling is though film but it all starts with writing. I’ve written a few short stories that I’ve made into my own short films, when I was younger, but my biggest challenge was writing a script for a full film. I saw that my writing was getting there but it still needed some work so I took some writing classes at my local community college while I was at my hometown in Central Oregon. I’ve always struggled with writing when I was a kid but knew that if I wanted to make my own films, I would have to start with the writing. Now I love to write and create short stories all the time that I hope one day will turned into a short film, someday, maybe, we’ll see.
M.M.: You are also a stop motion animator. How did you get into that?
E.D.: I’ve been into stop motion ever since I was a kid growing up with “Gumby”, “Wallace and Gromit” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. The entire process of stop motion blew my mind when I was young. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I was able to make my own animations with just my phone! That blows my mind! I’ve been doing full time stop motion animation since August, when I joined Zing, and I’m hooked. I now do stop motion for a living as well as all my personal projects incorporating stop motion into them. I’ve always preferred practical over CG effects in movies and really love Ray Harryhausen’s work and wish there were more of that in films these days. Stop motion is such a beautiful art form that I’m thrilled to see be utilized more these days. I’m adding a little stop motion to my live action film but I’m also turning one of them into a full blown stop motion film. I’ve got what has been known to be called as, “The Stop Motion Bug” and I don’t want to stop. I’m hooked!
M.M.: Recently you appeared at the New York toy fair to promote StikBots for Zing toys. How did that come about?
E.D.: I worked on some film projects with a friend who just started with a toy company and they were looking for some animators on this new toy called StikBot. The moment I had that toy in my hand I knew my life would change. I was told to go home and make a stop motion animation out of it and to send it to them in a couple days but I couldn’t wait. I made my first StikBot video with the app and then exported it to my computer and edited it even further on there. I had it done that day and not only was Zing impressed, but I was impressed myself. While I was working for the company my other coworkers, again, noticed my “bubbly” attitude and asked if I would do it on camera as a crazy Doctor or Professor. Next thing I know, I’m doing animation and teaching kids how to make their own animations as “Dr. Z”. It’s one thing to see your own animations get better but it’s another to see these kids animations get better and better; sometimes even better than me! The kids amaze me every day!
M.M.: So far, what has been the best part of working in the entertainment industry?
E.D.: Well, it ain’t easy working in the entertainment industry, I’ll be honest. But you learn so much and meet so many people. I throw my heart and soul into everything I do and seeing people’s excitement, enthusiasm and passion makes everything worth it in the end. When it comes to my work at Zing, I love the kid’s interactions and seeing their stop motion films. When it comes to my personal work, I love talking to my fans and having interactions with them during the filming process.
M.M.: What do you consider to be your “dream project”?
E.D.: My “Dream Project” comes from a love of a video game called “Silent Hill”. Everything about that game inspired me and personally helped me through tough times in my life. It’s odd to say that “Silent Hill” saved my life but in a strange way, it did. I’ve played every game, multiple times, multiple endings (including UFO endings), and couldn’t get enough of it. When I was in High School I was inspired from those games to make short psychological horror films with my friends. When I heard that they were going to make a “Silent Hill” movie I flipped! I was so excited! I even edited together scenes from the video games into a “Fan Trailer” that made the games look like a CG movie. Without “Geeking Out” about “Silent Hill” too much, the franchise has seen its highs and lows. Without saying too much negativity about the last film, it tore my heart apart. Seeing my favorite franchise of all time get put together and represented in the way it was shown, I knew I had to step up. I like the first film, it’s a fine movie. I’ve always wanted to be able to write the movie but I’m no Hollywood big wig and I knew they wouldn’t read my script, I was just a kid. Then the second movie came out and that’s when I knew, it’s MY chance to not only save this franchise, but to give us “Silent Hill” fans what we deserve…a perfect representation of the franchise. I started writing a “Fan Film” off the first game but I kept coming up with more questions than answers and found myself making something completely new and different. I wrote a prequel to the first “Silent Hill” game that ends right where the first game starts and it’s called, “Silent Hill: Prelude”. I’ve worked with Konami before with an online show I used to do on YouTube and I’ve stayed in contact with a lot of people that have worked on the series. “Silent Hill: Prelude” is my attempt to change the way video game adaptations are made. “Prelude”, for short, will be available online as a “Fan Film” in parts as short films that will be free to watch. When everything is complete you will be able to see “Prelude” the way it was meant to be seen in a theater, uncut with all ticket sales going to a local charity. As I said before, the series has helped me with so much in my life that I want to be able to give back. “Silent Hill” means so much to me; I owe it my life, making “Prelude” for charity is the only way I would present this film. Plus, I’ve seen a million better “Fan Films” of video game than Hollywood has ever made. Tim Miller is a HUGE fan of “Deadpool” and he got to direct the actual movie. Look how well that turned out and that was his first movie! I think we are finally seeing a change in the way films are being looked at these days.
M.M.: Career wise, where do you see yourself in ten years?
E.D.: Hopefully in ten years I will be working on more of my own work, like “Prelude”. I’m always looking into the future and planning out what films I want to do next. I’m definitely excited on working on more “Silent Hill” films that I’m hoping to announce soon, as well as some other personal projects that I hold dear to my heart. I like working on films and projects that I really care about and with those who care about it too. You can really see it in the end results.
M.M.: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
E.D.: I have so many projects coming up that it’s overwhelming sometimes but also very exciting! Next month I’m jumping back on YouTube and creating DIY Stop Motion videos. I will showcase, or unbox, a specific toy and show you how to make a short animation with it taking you through the entire process from beginning to end. The first season will be a toy from one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons from when I was a kid, Rinox from “Beast Wars”. So keep your eyes out for DIY Stop Motion Animation on YouTube starting next month. There is a bunch of other YouTube stuff I am doing but, like I said, I’m pouring my heart and soul into ‘Silent Hill: Prelude’.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the entertainment industry?
E.D.: If anyone else is aspiring to enter the entertainment industry I would advise to never give up. You will hear the word, “No” a lot! But never give up! If you have the passion for it, the heart for it, the love for what you do, DO IT! Don’t let anyone stop you! If you want to learn to ride a horse, then learn to ride a horse. If you want to write a book, write a book. If you want to make a movie, make it. The only one stopping you is you. If you don’t think it’s good enough, then push yourself. If you believe in yourself and really fight for what you love, you can make anything happen.
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To learn more about Edward DeBoy see his IMBD and LinkedIn.