Interview with Dave Barclay

You might not know Dave Barclay by name but you most differently know his work. Some of the films that Dave has worked on includes: “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Return of the Jedi”, “Cats and Dogs”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “The Dark Crystal”, “Fraggle Rock”, “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Where the Wild Things Are”, “Jim Henson’s Labyrinth”, “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and many many more. From puppeting Jabba the Hut to creating and developing the Mr. Wiskers in “Cats & Dogs”. He has done everything.

Thanks to Derek Maki at Coolwaters Productions, we were able to get Dave to answer a few questions about his astounding career.

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Mike Gencarelli: You’ve done puppeteering on almost two dozen movies? What was your most challenging role?

Dave Barclay: The most challenging was the recently filmed ‘Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore’ as I had built the most sophisticated and complex life size animatronic cat face ever built, which used 76 miniature cables and computer controlled servo motors – this is for the new ‘Mr Tinkles’.

Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel about CGI taking over Hollywood, are you scared that one day there will be no puppets used and everything will be CGI?
Dave Barclay: I have been actively involved in CG for 15 years now. My proprietary outabody system, originally designed for performing animatronics also controls real time CG characters. So I’m puppeteering the CG invasion too.

MG: What is it like to have been involved with the original “Star Wars” trilogy? Best moment on the set of “Jedi”?

DB: I was a huge fan of the first star wars move (ep 4) so getting a chance to work on Empire and Jedi was a dream come true. It launched my animatronic career, which I’m still enjoying to this day. Best moment on the set was when Richard Marquand (director) told George how fabulous the Jabba performance was.

MG: How do you feel about the sequel to “The Dark Crystal” finally might be getting made under the titled “The Power of the Dark Crystal”? Do you think there is still a demand for a sequel

DB: As first British puppet maker on Dark Crystal it has a very special place in my heart. Working with Jim and Frank was phenomenal. It has truly become a cult classic and I think everyone who worked on it are very proud to have been part of it. Brian Froud’s world is fabulous, so I’d love to see that remarkable vision brought to the screen using today’s technology.

MG: You’ve worked with the late Jim Henson, what was it like working with him?

DB: Jim was a gentleman, a visionary and a brilliant puppeteer. As a second generation puppeteer myself, I was so inspired to see Jim continually pushing the envelope in puppetry and animatronc performance. It was a great honor to work with him, and he was a great teacher. Quiet, gentle but incredibly focused. I had just turned 20 when I joined the Dark Crystal and a couple of years later I mentioned I would like to puppeteer Sprocket the Dog for the european versions of Fraggle Rock. Jim gave me the job. That’s the way he was. He is sorely missed.

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