The web series “Sunset Junction”
chronicles the lives of three of friends in L.A.’s hipster haven, Silver Lake. The catch: Characters Rosa, Phoebe and John aren’t skinny jean-clad, bicycle riding musicians or aspiring micro-brewers. They’re actual lake creatures — a duck, a snail and a frog, respectively — brought to life by stop-motion claymation in two-minute mini-episodes reminiscent of those “Penny” cartoons from “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” but snarkier. There are eight episodes so far — here’s the first one: “The Hangover.” Below, check out our Q&A with “Sunset Junction” creator and Silver Lake resident John McCutcheon:
KCRW: How did you learn stop-motion, and what was the process like?
John McCutcheon: Completely self taught. I spent about 6 months researching and reading up on different techniques until I culled a process that would work with my abilities and budget. The process is torturous. No joke. Twenty-four frames per second means actually taking 24 individual pictures for every second of film. I talk to myself a lot.
KCRW: How long does each episode take to create?
JM: Each episode takes about two to three weeks, depending on how frequently I can get to the studio and if there are any props or new characters that have to be created for the episode.
KCRW: Do you have any new ones coming up?
JM: Yes. I am working on an episode where the Silver Lake characters encounter their rivals from Echo Park in homage to gang movies like “The Warriors,” “The Outsiders,” “A Clockwork Orange”… The Echo Park characters are the grittier, international versions of Silver Lake and WAY cooler. This is the most ambitious episode to date.
KCRW: Where are you from originally?
JM: St. Louis, MO – The undisputed hot bed of coolness.
KCRW: When did you arrive in L.A., and what was your first impression of the city?
JM: I moved here 3 years ago because I’ve always wanted to work in TV. I am an aspiring TV writer. My first impression was, parking sucks. My first trip to L.A., I flew in on a Tuesday night and left Thursday morning, giving myself 24 hours to find an apartment. I racked up so many parking tickets, you would think I was deliberately disobeying signage.
KCRW: What do you like best about your neighborhood?
JM: I am always inspired and often confused by Silver Lake and I love it. We have a meadow and a lake we can’t access. Take that, Venice Beach!
KCRW: What’s your day job?
JM: I’m work at a talent management company. Before that, I was casting some of the finest guilty pleasure TV shows, including “Dance Moms” and “Bridezillas.” Before that I was managing one of the sketchiest Vietnamese restaurants in LA. Answer the follow-up question: Yes! We were briefly shut down by the Health Department!