At first glance, Charlie Beggs seems like any other high school freshman. A little on the short side, needs a haircut, spends 4 hours a day on his computer or cell phone, and 1 hour a day on his homework. But spend a little time with him and you might get a glimpse into the real Charlie. The shy, playfully mischievous 14 year old, youngest of 5 kids, shares with his siblings a love of music, art, books, and hockey (8 years playing inline hockey so far and a big fan of the Washington Capitals). He's concerned about global warming and pollution -- he's the kind of kid that picks up trash outside the mall when he goes in to shop.
Charlie would probably admit he is a little lazy about some things. But if you get to know him, you'll find he has infinite energy to debate you on any topic at any time. If this means the pros and cons of science fiction, grammar rules, the existence of jackelopes, if the color green looks the same to him as it does to you, or whether the reason dogs can't talk is because of their missing vocal chords or the nature of their lips and tongues, then he'll argue. He really wants to know the "ground truth" about all kinds of topics, especially scientific ones, and is frustrated when schools abbreviate details in order to finish teaching a topic in a normal day. He loves puzzles, puns, dogs, and stumping parents and teachers with questions. He is looking forward to college, where he hears that philosophical debates are far more common. His parents are looking forward to sending him.
In elementary school, he created stop-motion movies using his Legos and Bionicle figures, which he occasionally shared with his class, but which he mostly shared with his friends and family. YouTube motivated him to extend his reach into Claymation, and he was lucky enough to get a class assignment from Ms. Kristen Hepner, who encouraged him to make a "trailer" for a book he had read. Like many kids his age, Charlie is fond of Harry Potter, Ender Wiggin, the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and various other stories with teens as heroes. He chose for his book report The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor and spent a few weeks creating a claymation trailer, along with sound effects, music, sub-titles, and all the other things you see in a movie trailer.
For his book report, Charlie was presented with the choice of doing his project at school or at home. He decided that he'd be better off in an environment where the materials, the software, the cameras, and the technical support were more to his liking, and where he could leave his equipment strewn on the floor and table (see "lazy" above). Clay is an easy medium to work with, but unfortunately the longer you work with it the harder it is to shape. So Charlie's penchant for tweaking his creations made his job more difficult -- the actors kept falling down, falling apart, or just refused to cooperate. In the end, of course, everyone cooperated and the trailer was made.
To ensure his teacher could see it, he posted it on YouTube and it spread. Fortunately, one of the people who saw it and commented was Nate Barlow, who worked with the author, Frank. They started a conversation, and the next thing Charlie knew, he had signed up to create a second trailer for an upcoming book, Hatter M: Mad With Wonder, a graphic novel. This time around, Charlie had higher standards. No longer would it be acceptable for random shadows to appear in the scenes. No longer would the first take be the only take on a scene. Charlie spent about 6 weeks, many late nights, and many sunny days working, when he would rather have been watching TV or playing outside. He suffered through repeated crashes of his computer caused by overheating when generating the high def video files. The time difference between Charlie on the East Coast and Frank on the West Coast complicated their coordination efforts. As the end neared, he collected a handful of friends to do the voice-overs. They had a blast altering their voices, imitating various accents, and generally just cracking each other up. With a little organizational and directional assistance from his parents, the trailer was finally finished and sent in to Frank.
In the meantime though, Charlie learned about story-boarding, directing, editing, managing, making knives out of aluminum foil, and the conflict between artistic license and reality. He also learned more about copyright law than he ever wanted to know.
Right now, Charlie is on hiatus from making movies. He is content to play video games and text his friends, and likes not having to work every weekend to meet his deadlines. He might change his mind and be an inventor or a drummer, but if you are reading credits in a theater 10 years from now, don't be surprised if you see a name you recognize.