In a tiny hanger at the El Monte Airport sits the workshop of Germán Alonso, one of the more dedicated and prolific artists in the Los Angeles area. Once the creeky door to Germán’s workshop swings shut, you no longer hear the rumblings of aircraft coming and going. It’s as if you’ve stepped into a parallel dimension of wildly productive clutter.
Its legitimately challenging to write about Germán’s work, because there exist no other artists to whom he warrants comparison. His medium is digital filmmaking, but he videographs puppets in stop-motion, made from a moldable, air-drying composite material. He’s a brilliant verbal storyteller, but his stories seem to exist in a landscape that only Germán knows completely: bizarre, mysterious, and deeply funny.
His hanger/workshop is filled from the floor to the 20-foot ceiling with an elaborate catalog of characters that populate his cinematic world. Between the lights, numerous monitors and computer displays, I spot twisted, eerie renderings of Santa Claus, dinosaurs, aliens, penguins, cats, and a massive Chinese-inspired dragon dangling from the ceiling. There’s a high-end weird-factor to the entire place, curious and odd.
Germán’s film work utilizes some computer-generated techniques in Adobe After Effects, but the vast majority of his magic is produced in-camera. He uses a 70-inch HD television to do rear-projection and a modified 12-core Apple computer with 124 gigs of RAM to capture, render, and edit. Recently, he’s been working on a feature-length film a version of his senior thesis short MexMan that he completed at USC nearly ten years ago.
The grotesque elements of his puppets and the underlying creepiness of, say, his version of Santa, call to mind a wilder more fiendish version of a young Tim Burton. Germán said that once his cadre of characters is complete, he wants to turn out films on a frequent basis, that the one-week turnaround that South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker adhere to is his ultimate goal.
On his YouTube channel are a few samples of his work, much of it written and produced during his time at USC film school. Full disclosure, I’ve known Germán for more than ten years, and in that time I’ve watched his collection of characters grow, his techniques develop, and his fantasy world become more and more convoluted.
Germán’s sole web presence is his YouTube channel, which is occasionally updated.