Max and Maxine is a story about a grandfather and granddaughter, and the life-giving power of imagination. Following the surreal adventures of two lovable characters, Max and Maxine, Hornet Director Peter Sluszka creates a dreamscape world bursting with imaginative life. It’s a world immersed in both metaphor and mixed media mastery. Imagination, and its ability to provide childlike wonder and motivation for living even in the face of terminal illness, is the thematic thread. But it’s the technique—an irresistible implementation of stop motion using custom-made puppets and materials—which transforms the story from simple and sweet to completely enthralling.
Director Peter Sluszka
Client Eli Lilly
Production Co Hornet
Managing Director Hana Shimizu
Head of Creative Development Kristin Labriola
Head of Production Sang-Jin Bae
Executive Producer Cathy Kwan
Associate Producer Claudia Gaspar
Sr Editor Anita Chao
Editors Stephanie Andreou, Eren Gulfidan, Sam Stulin
Storyboard Artist Natalie LaBarre
Character Designer Felicie Haymoz
Enviroment Designers Alison Abitbol, Alejandro Diaz
Prop and Background Character Designer Anna Bron
Live Action/Stop Motion
Line Producer Joel Kretschman
Director of Photography Ivan Abel
Motion Control Operator Richard Coppola
Animators Matt Christensen, Pete List, Matt Somma, Peter Sluszka
Gaffer Michael Yetter
BB Electric: Jacob Malin
Key Grip Balz Beillmann, Garrett Cantrell, Chris Clarke, Sean Herlihy, Corey Jacobs
2nd Grip Bill Hilferty, Corey Gallit, Jarrod Kloiber
Fabricators Nico Benenati, Erika Bettencourt, Tiffany Chan, Melissa Chow, Kerry Coutu, Pete Erickson, Ben Kress, Camille Labarre, Michael Lawrence, Tim McDonald, Jackie Nash, Laura Noveck, Janet O'Sullivan, Matt Scharenbroich, Samantha Smith, Maxwell Sorensen
3D Modeler Rachel Kwak
Lead Compositor Ted Wiggin
Compositors Heeyeon Chang, John Harrison, Bil Thompson
Colorist Seth Ricart, RCO
Music, Sound Design, and Mix by Walker
Executive Producer Abbey Hendrix
Music Supervisor Julianne Wilson
Mixing Engineer Christopher Keyes
Agency Area 23
Chief Creative Officer Tim Hawkey
Executive Creative Director Elliot Langerman
VP, Group Executive Producer Chinkara Singh
Creative Director Joe Capanear, Chris Bernesby
ACD Ronnie Caltabiano, Erica Byrnes, Danielle Burke
Business Manager Rubina Handrigan
Account Executives Matthew Mcclafferty / Kaitlyn Molina
"We wanted to create something where the viewer is totally immersed in a mixed media world, really enjoying the characters' relationship, until the end, when the grandfather snaps out of the daydream, and the real world intrudes. This dramatic turning point—going from a dreamscape to a real world confrontation—helped really illuminate the theme. Which is all about imagination and the motivating role it can play for living."
"The handcrafted aspect was always front and center. We went all in with in-camera techniques. The scene with the ocean and water, for instance, was done with fabric. All of the characters' clothes were custom-made, nothing store-bought, all crafted. This design decision drove the look overall."
Peter Sluszka is an award-winning director with strong roots in stop motion and over 20 years of perfecting his craft. Not only has his work garnered plenty of accolades—including screenings at Annecy, the Annies, the Clio Awards, and even a Wood Pencil at D&AD—but he continues to push boundaries to the most delightful dimensions in everything he does. It also helps that he’s gleaned a thing or two from his time working alongside the legendary Michel Gondry.
Peter is a skilled mixed-media director, but above all, he is a clever designer and a fabrication whiz. It's not uncommon to find him fully immersed in a project and getting his hands dirty with set design, fabrication, or even animation.
Having directed original content animation, commercial productions, music videos, television series, and feature films, Peter's portfolio is brimming with live-action, CG, and stop-motion feats. He’s manipulated everything from traditional foam latex puppets to meat, origami, snow, yarn, and (literally) tons of clay.