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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Wands up!

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

When it comes to filming stop motion music videos apparently lead singers, guitarists, keyboard players, and drummers don’t participate. Only bass players--and their wives--do. What follows was a true test of our marriage.

It took a little convincing, but when my husband approached me with the idea to make a stop motion music video of toys escaping from our house, in the spirit of "team adventure", I rolled up my sleeves and helped move us out of our bedroom (which was to become the “set” for the next six weeks).

Once our furniture was safely stowed in the guest room, our focus turned to obtaining vintage toys. Our parents’ attics proved pretty fruitful, producing Charmkins, Barbies, My Little Ponies, Slimer, Glow Worms, and Robotics sets—but they also opened the floodgates to memory. Soon we found ourselves scouring Ebay for Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Bright, Snorks, and the most coveted (and expensive) toy of all; The Sweet Secrets Doll (we opted for one who had one ponytail chopped off because she fit our non-existent budget). Our days became punctuated with the “ding” of auctions ending, and meals and drinks were spent plotting the toys’ path.

Finally, our shipments arrived, the script was written, and we were ready to begin filming. We quickly realized, however, that filming three minutes and twenty-four seconds of stop motion was no small task. It took about four hours to get ten seconds of video. And nothing could move. Even shifting our weight or stepping on our hardwood floors could move a toy a fraction of an inch and ruin all of the previous footage. We had to devise ways to “hover” over the toys, or remain crouched in the same uncomfortable, thigh splitting positions for hours, making sure nothing moved except for the toys—slowly, slowly, one centimeter at a time. Plus, the light couldn't change, so we were always in a hurry, trying to beat it. It was intense.

Several days into filming, we realized we still needed the baton that was to fall on the X-wing fighter, that would launch the koosh ball to knock over the trophies, to raise the G.I. Joes’ Ewok cage to the top of the window sill so they could parachute out of the house. I, now fully toy-obsessed, insisted it be a glitter baton. My husband was against the idea, “we can’t control the glitter—it will move!” but he indulged my longing to once again twirl a clear plastic rod filled with water and glitter.

And that’s how I met my wand.

As it turns out, glitter batons are IMPOSSIBLE to find. At least they were in 2011. Online we could only find a pack of ten batons that would ship from China (and we wanted to move back into our bedroom so finding one in person was ideal). We spent a day scouring toy stores all over Los Angeles and came up empty. We finally ended up at Toys R Us where we spent nearly two hours wandering through the aisles, searching. A sales associate checked the inventory at other stores, and finally confirmed what we were beginning to suspect—nobody sold glitter batons anymore. Still not wanting to give up, I decided to take one last stroll down the Disney Princess aisle.

That's when it happened.

I’d been down that aisle at least ten times that day, and on my previous visits there was nothing on the floor. But, this time, I suddenly stepped on something. Coming to a halt, I peered down, and there, under my foot, was a see-through rainbow plastic tube with pink stoppers, filled with water and iridescent glitter. It wasn’t exactly the length of the baton I was searching for--more so, it was the length of a wand… My heart stopped. My breath caught in my throat, and I’m surprised my head didn’t explode right then and there. I knew in that moment, that my wand had chosen me.

I was so excited—I felt like I might shoot straight to the moon—and I rushed to find my husband. Breathless, I found him next to the bikes, and presented him with my treasure. He wasn’t as overwhelmed by my wand as I was, but he agreed I should buy it. The thing was, it didn’t have any tags—nobody knew where it came from—so they sold it to me for $0.99.

We finished the video and released it on Christmas Eve. I aimed wand shots at YouTube and wished the video success, and then we put our house back together, hosted a holiday party, and got ready to begin a magical new year. But, in a strange turn of events, the morning after the holiday party, I realized my wand had disappeared. I scoured the house for it, unwilling to believe magic could be so fleeting, but weeks later, I was forced to admit, it was gone.

I mourned its loss, but accepted its short time in my life, and got to work on my next project; turning the fictional blog I’d spent the previous year writing into a novel. In March of 2012, I gave up fear, and contacted an editor I randomly found on Twitter about editing the book before I self-published it. That email set into an action a course of events that changed my life, culminating in a three-book-deal. It was shortly after sending the email, that my wand re-appeared, wedged behind a heavy trunk in our dining room. I have no idea how it got there, but it has been with me—and I've been sending wand shots—ever since.

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