When local filmmaker Michael McCurdy posted his latest project on Facebook, he wasn’t expecting it to go viral.
“I knew it would do well, but ‘well’ for me is maybe 1,000 or 2,000 views,” McCurdy said. “So when it got like 20,000 in one day, that was pretty mind blowing.”
His video was soon on the front page of the social blogging platform Reddit, it had more than 50,000 views on YouTube, it was featured in an article by Mashable and McCurdy was getting calls from ABC affiliates.
As it is reposted, shared, liked and hashtagged, the viral video is spreading the flavor of Port Townsend to communities around the world. The six-minute video shows
McCurdy’s animated versions of some of Port Townsend’s quirkier 911 calls, taken from the police blotter printed in The Leader and narrated by local voice-over actors.
Police searching for a deer with Christmas lights on its antlers, a man riding a combination bicycle-skateboard, and a woman found lying in the grass eating a sandwich are just a few of the police calls featured in the short video.
“It’s not an accurate representation of the police calls necessarily, but I chose ones that I thought were funny or would lend themselves well to being animated,” McCurdy said.
A graduate of the Seattle Film Institute, McCurdy moved back to Port Townsend after college to pursue film-making. He focuses on short films and his YouTube channel features a variety of different topics, including his most recent stop-motion animation, “Snack Attack,” which was shown at the Port Townsend Film Festival, among others.
But the police logs video was the first that McCurdy had done in a cartoon style and it was a learning process.
“The fun part about animating these is that since there weren’t really a whole lot of details provided in the police blotter. I had a lot of free rein to add my own interpretation of what happened,” McCurdy said.
Over six months, McCurdy combed through old Leaders, finding his favorite police calls. Then he slowly began chipping away at the animation process, while working on other projects at the same time.
“It’s good to let the public know about some of the crazy calls we get,” said Sheriff Joe Nole, who said he remembered several of the instances shown in the video.
“I think it’s good for the public to want to call us,” Nole said.
McCurdy added his own touches of humor to the narration of the police calls with his drawings; the expressions on his characters’ faces a bit more ridiculous than they might have been in real life.
“I was conscious of doing this project in a way that was out of love for Port Townsend and with admiration for all our weird quirkiness,” McCurdy said.
The success of the video inspired McCurdy for future projects. While he works part time at Susan Harter Muralpapers in downtown Port Townsend, McCurdy spends his off time focusing on projects.
“Everybody says you’ve got to be in Los Angeles if you want to be a legit filmmaker, but lately I’ve felt like, ‘Wow, I could do stuff here and have a cool part time job,’” he said. “There are a lot of people like me here who are artists or makers, who are hustling. You kind of have to hustle.”
His next project might take a new approach to Port Townsend police calls—maybe with a new style of animation, stop-motion, or even live action.
“There’s no shortage of weirdness in Port Townsend,” he said. “So there is definitely going to be more material.”