On Screen: Fantastic Stan Goes to Hell

The only thing more charming than a pubescent teenage boy riding around on a vacuum cleaner as a door-to-door inventions salesman on the search to recover his parents is imagining local filmmaker Micah Knapp at around the same age creating this story alongside his older brother Jake Knapp. Thirteen years after conception and four years of production later, filmmaking team and brothers Micah and Jake Knapp are releasing their 45-minute film, Fantastic Stan Goes to Hell.

“Fantastic Stan came about from having a super active imagination as kids, highly inspired by the movies we grew up with and the possibility of what special effects we would be capable of creating on a computer by ourselves,” said Micah of their inspiration for the film. This sentiment comes as no surprise after watching the short film, which acts as a bottled up piece of childhood spark. It’s not hard to muster up trope-filled classics that served as initial stimulus calling on classics like Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Muppet Movie as well as some more enigmatic influences like The Rocketeer and Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.

What served as the original catalyst, though, was “seeing Jurassic Park for the first time as kids, we were amazed at how real the dinosaurs seemed.” For the brothers, the mystery of special effects and the experimentation they were capable of in their own back yard was exhilarating.

Even more exciting and fantastical than the film itself is imagining the filmmaking process. Micah Knapp described working with first-time actor Brandon Willkie and the manner in which they got him comfortable with his role, making him actually go door to door as a salesman. Other highlights included a lot of green screen work while attempting to fit multiple actors on the vacuum cleaner (do not try this at home) and one trailer park fiasco that served as one of those gem-like life lessons artists receive early in their careers.

The technical aspects of creating the film are what take over the short, serving as a platform for the developing filmmakers to try their hand at the fantastical elements, which is important to understanding the individual work by Knapp Bros. Studios. Though the “young boy with wacky side-kick in search of parents, using magic, with enemies like witches and helpers like forest nymphs” may seem like old hat-but that really isn’t the point. Underneath the charming classical adventure story is stand-alone piece that after four years and a lot of heart, the Knapp Bros. Studios are proud to release to the public.

In the Knapp Bros. Studios catalog you can currently find music videos, commercials, and various shorter works to reach a larger audience that are just the tip of the iceberg for the burgeoning company.

As Micah explains, “We hope to model ourselves after someone like Robert Rodriguez, doing everything ourselves…Making films with deep, meaningful messages that really get people to think,” explaining the future direction towards documentaries as an ultimate payoff.

With the releases of films like this, backed by the small but growing film community Bellingham is being put on the map in a whole new way. With filmmakers, videographers, varied landscape perfect for sets, and limitless creativity “Bellingham has the potential to be a filmmaking mecca if the city continues to grow and expand, bringing jobs here to support the extremely supportive arts community we have,” as noted by Micah.

With the help of fostering the film community, through releases like “Fantastic Stan Goes to Hell” Micah and Jake Knapp, alongside their actors and supporters are showing Bellingham, and beyond the capacity for creating a film of quality caliber, entirely independent of the deep pockets of Hollywood. For more information, follow the film’s Facebook page.