If all of this world is a stage and men and women merely players, as Shakespeare suggested, then Will Schutze is a director. While most of us remain unaware of our various stages and roles, Schutze builds his and dreams up the beings to populate them in puppet form, whether they be Dickensian Scrooges, lounge-singing skeletons, hell-raising autobiographical rabbit boys, or his latest effort, a music video for local band Chilldren of Indigo’s last album Native Alien.
As he waltzes around tramping from place to place in his studio, Schutze’s Poirot-like eye for detail breaks down his puppet movements to their base forms and then he goes to work.
“Puppetry is animating an inanimate object [and] probably goes back to a time in human evolution when it was beneficial to pretend that a rock was your friend,” Schutze says. “From shadow puppetry, rod puppetry, marionettes, hand puppets, robotics/animatronics, toy theater ... it’s ancient."
Schutze makes his point by bringing up remnants of puppets found in ancient Egypt.
"Even the Venus of Willendorf could possibly be a puppet," he says. "The idea of bringing life to a handmade object is everywhere; a computer could be considered a puppet. Avatars. Video games. Drones. It’s also super popular right now in mainstream politics to call someone a puppet.”
And now, thanks to Schutze, puppets are also a trend in North Texas music videos, as artists such as Honey Folk seek out his vision.
Jo Indigo from Chilldren of Indigo says he met Schutze at the 2018 Dallas Observer Music Awards and "decided we should work together at some point in the future.”
The future is now, and the video is for the band's song “Tomorrow Ain’t Promised.” Quarantine, Indigo says, served as a good excuse to revisit the idea. Schutze made puppet versions of each band member for the video.
“He was so passionate about the album that I told him to pick his favorite song and the rest was his nonstop dedication and idea," Indigo says of Schutze. " He literally drove in from Austin for our show at the Capricorn Drive-in at Fair Park so he could get our movements and personalities in the puppets.”
"I definitely worked a lot on trying to get some of each one’s stage presence to come through with the movement," Schutze adds. "For instance, I really thought the way [band member] Ryan Sneed moves his head while playing bass is such a great bass player move and I wanted to get that down. I think I did."
“I was amazed,” Indigo says pensively before continuing excitedly. “Jay [Indigo]’s puppet pushing up his glasses at the beginning cracks me up … super on-point mannerism. Also Ryan [Sneed]’s puppet who is just way hype, But also the amps and all-Fender instruments are legitimately what we actually play on."
Indigo says that Schutze was detailed in his interpretation of the band, down to creating a pair of Jordan shoes for Sneed's puppet and Jay Indigo's turquoise glasses and red hat.
"We own all of those clothes,” he says.
That amazed response is standard for those familiar with Schutze and his work, due in no small part to his passion and dedication-bordering-on-obsession to puppetry.
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“Making puppets to represent real people was one of the more challenging things I’ve done with puppetry,” Schutze says. “I think I said they would probably end up looking like a child’s drawing. They actually ended up looking cool."
Jo Indigo adds, “As far as I’m concerned, this is Will's song now.”
Watch "Tomorrow Ain't Promised" below: