PES talks “Submarine Sandwich,” Garbage Pail Kids and the connectedness of things

Beloved stop-motion director PES is back with his most ambitious short film to date, “Submarine Sandwich.” With funding from both a corporate sponsor (Nikon) and his sizable fan base via Kickstarter, the film is the third in a series of shorts dealing with food, following “Western Spaghetti” and “Fresh Guacamole” (see below).


Still from “Submarine Sandwich”

Like PES’ previous work, “Submarine Sandwich” juxtaposes mundane activities (making a sandwich) with unexpected objects playing the roles of, well, other objects. As you watch and re-watch the films, a rich network of associations starts to surface.

The art direction for the set of “Submarine Sandwich,” for example, is a cross between a deli and a locker: a meat locker, if you will. At one point, a deck of cards is literally “cut” into slices of imaginary meat. That sort of free association is at the heart of PES’ outlook on life, which celebrates a playful connectedness of things.

The "meat locker"

The “meat locker”

PES was kind enough to chat with us about the thinking behind the film — as well as telling us a little bit about directing an upcoming Garbage Pail Kids property.

Q&A with PES

Check out the audio of our phone conversation here or read some of the highlights below.

Selected quotes

On Kickstarter

The pitching of the Kickstarter is a multi-skillset thing. Someone’s got to help you write it. Someone’s got to help you make your video. Someone has to decide, you know, with more of a business sense, how your reward tiers work together. Someone with a marketing sense [decides] about how far people would go with you on a certain reward. Then you have to work in those expenses to your budget.

On the origin of ideas

It’s always a confluence of forces that bring an idea to the top for me. Usually, almost always, I have an image in mind that I fall in love with that I just want to see come to life. In this case, I had seen that deli slicer at the MoMA in an industrial design exhibit and thought it was really cool and immediately was like, “That thing’s sweet. What would I cut in it? What would my meat be?”

And the first thing that popped in my head was: boxing gloves! That’s a good Italian ham.

"Boxing gloves! That’s a good Italian ham."

“Boxing gloves! That’s a good Italian ham.”

On props and authenticity

Everything in the deli is authentic. It’s not film props that are in there. I really bought real stuff.

I mean some of the stuff in the deli hangs on my wall at home. Like the picture of the Pantheon. These are things that are important places for me in my life, a little nostalgic. I try to make it very personalized: my little busts of Dante and Beatrice, patron saints of the deli.

On selecting objects

I’m never looking for chaos or randomness in the selection [of objects]. There’s always this sort of feeling that the world goes together. There is this sort of puzzle-like quality, things fall together, they belong together somehow.

Casting is a big part of it — it’s just casting the role of onion rings. I look far and wide for ideas. And I have literally, like, a casting session and then someone gets the job. In this case, obviously, it was the Slinky.

On the Garbage Pail Kids movie and other projects

It’s in a holding pattern right now just while we’ve been in transition. But yeah, it’s still alive, we just haven’t been working on it for the past couple months. That’s what happens in Hollywood when a new writer comes in and the project changes scope and stuff.

But yeah, still working on it. And pitching a couple others. And I’m actually starting to develop a TV show.

PES films mentioned

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.