As a karaoke host and wedding DJ, I have been out of work the past few months due to the pandemic and, along with spending time with my wife and one-year-old son, I have been trying to keep my mind and body busy and my creative juices flowing with numerous projects. One of my new mediums is stop motion animation and, as a toy collector, I have plenty of “actors” ready to work. I had also recently brought myself to watch the final season of the show, Schitt’s Creek, an incredibly hilarious quirky Canadian comedy with tonnes of heart. Created by Dan Levy and his dad, Eugene Levy, it had become my absolute favorite and it had made me both laugh and tear up quite regularly. It was a few weeks ago as I was lamenting about the ending of my favorite TV show when I had the idea to put my vintage Fisher Price toy collection to good use by making a tribute video to the Schitt’s Creek song, “A Little Bit Alexis” written by Annie Murphy, who plays Alexis Rose on the show. I had been in love with this song ever since it was first introduced in the fifth season, when Alexis auditions for a local production of Cabaret, singing the “title track off of my critically reviewed, limited reality series, A Little Bit Alexis.”

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Me and my actors

I got to work creating sets and location scouting and figuring out a basic storyline before getting to work on the very lengthy process of photographing the scenes. I spent many hours laying in my driveway or city parks with my Fisher Price little people while my neighbours or strangers gave me very strange looks. When I was done the one minute long video, I posted it to my TikTok account…

… since that is the new popular place for short videos. The video did not too bad on there, but only picked up about 20 thousand views. I really wanted more Schitt’s Creek fans to see my tribute and so my wife suggested that I post on Twitter, a social media platform that I don’t normally use very often. “Maybe Dan or Annie will see it, you never know”, she suggested.

Image credits: ToddCameron22

I posted one night before bed, tagging the show as well as Dan Levy and Annie Murphy, hoping that one of them would at least get to see it, or that it would reach some more fans. The next morning, I woke up to find over a hundred notifications on my Twitter and, after some excited scrolling, I discovered that the show’s twitter page had retweeted my film and called it “Storytelling at its finest”.

My fave show loves my storytelling!

Image credits: SchittsCreek

As if that wasn’t mind-blowing enough, a few minutes later, Dan Levy, a personal creative hero of mine, had also retweeted my full and he called it “A masterpiece.”

High praise from a creative genius

Image credits: danjlevy

That’s when things started to really amp up! People were liking, retweeting, commenting like crazy for the next few days as the views hit over 200 thousand. Fans of Schitt’s Creek were loving the content and fans of Fisher Price were going crazy for the nostalgia. Just when things started to die down a little bit 3 days later, Annie Murphy finally saw it and also retweeted it, saying “how friggin’ cool” it was. Then the whole bombardment of notifications and love for my film started pouring in again until my film had been viewed 331 thousand times on Twitter. And even the official Fisher Price Twitter Page joined in on the fun by tweeting a few comments on my video. There were several stories written about my experience online as well as a few newspapers and a tv news station that picked up the story so my film got even more views. With those and my nearly 100 thousand Facebook views, my short film has been viewed nearly a half a million times! Who knew that playing with toys as an adult would actually acquire so much positive attention?

Alexis herself approves!

Image credits: annefrances

Fisher Price showing their cheeky side

Image credits: FisherPrice

I have gone viral before with an alien maternity photoshoot that went all around the world in many languages but this experience was different because there were actual creative geniuses who I looked up to giving me the highest praise that I could ever hope to receive.

Setting up a scene on location (photo by Dale Schulz)

With two and a half more minutes of song left and so many more Fisher Price toys that didn’t make it into the film, I immediately got to work filming a full length “extended remix” version of the music video. Yesterday, after 100+ hours of crafting, filming, and editing, I just was finally able to post the final creation to YouTube and Twitter. So far that version has 6 thousand views in just over one day and I am hoping that Dan and Annie get to see it as well!

And after years and years of creative projects, the biggest takeaway from this whole experience is that I have finally been able to let go of my self-doubt and begin to refer to myself as an artist. I had always struggled with self-applying that label as my projects were always just good silly fun and I didn’t make money from them, but with this experience, that outlook has dissipated. I make things that bring enjoyment and happiness to myself and others. That is enough. I am an artist. And I can’t wait till the inspiration for my next project hits. I would love one day to collaborate with Dan or Annie, but in reality, just continuing to make others smile and laugh is enough.