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Don’t blink, or you might miss your chance to help Doctor Puppet get the finale he deserves.
Dubbed the “ultimate Doctor Who fan film,” Doctor Puppet is a stop-motion webseries that, in seven episodes, has created memorable adventures for puppet-ified versions of past Doctors David Tennant, Peter Capaldi, and Matt Smith. Now, after three years online, creator Alisa Stern (a past #WCW) is looking to give her beloved puppets a proper send-off—and she’s asking her fans for help.
Originally started as a Tumblr following Doctor Puppet’s travels through NYC, Philadelphia, and the U.K., Stern soon realized the potential of her puppet to capture the hearts of the internet.
“I was making a puppet for a class I used to teach and I needed a puppet as a demonstration so I just made [the Doctor],” animator Alisa Stern stated in her first interview with the Daily Dot in 2013. “I did some animation tests with him and I thought, ‘Oh, the Internet would really like this.’”
And the Internet bloody well did. Shortly after releasing the series’ first episode, “How Doctor Puppet Saved Christmas,” Nerdist approached Stern to collaborate. The series has been praised by BBC, Doctor Who magazine, and Who writer/producer Steven Moffat himself.
“Doctor Puppet is the ultimate Doctor Who fan film in a way, because we can put any two characters together we want. It’s Whovian wish fulfillment!” Stern tells the Daily Dot. “I love being able to tell an epic Doctor Who story and talk about it with other fans. Because who doesn’t want to to make up stories about their favorite characters? And Steven Moffat likes what we do! How cool is that?”
Moffat, yes, and nearly 80,000 other followers, who’ve watched the channel’s videos north of 2 million times. But despite Doctor Puppet receiving praise and support, Stern admits that making even one episode is anything but easy. It takes her and her team months of planning and production time, as the video is shot frame-by-frame to capture that classic, Gumby and Pokey– style aesthetic.
This month Stern launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the series’ eighth and final episode. She’s asking for $11,000 to cover the costs of her team and production and with only two days left to donate, the project is nearly 78 percent funded. Fans continue to share their support on social media, and they’re encouraging others to donate even a dollar to this worthwhile series.
“We did an Indiegogo campaign in 2014 to raise funds for our Christmas special, “The Planet That Came for Christmas.” We raised $16,000 ($1,000 over what we asked for!) and it was a tremendous help. The result was one of our best videos, if not the best. It’s just amazing to know we have that kind of support,” Stern says of her fans. She wants to reward that loyalty, too, with Indiegogo perks like “your name in the credits, a custom chalk message from the Twelfth Doctor, and an album of Scott’s unused music from our previous video.”
The amazing thing about Stern’s series is you don’t have to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy it. The execution of the stop-motion, coupled with the fun of watching a fan play God with their favorite show’s characters, makes the episodes enjoyable for anyone.
Similar to YouTube creator and Academy Award nominee PES, animator and fangirl Only Leigh, and artist Red Hongyi, Stern is colliding digital media and art to redefine what we think possible on YouTube. She’s an antidote to the mindless vlogging and challenges that clutter YouTube’s subscription box and captures what YouTube is about: a place for niche communities to create together.
“We’re probably as excited to finish this story as everyone else is to watch it!” Stern says about the finale. “It’s been a long time coming. But don’t fear—it’s not the last video we’ll ever make. It’s just the final part of this tale. We plan to tell other Doctor Puppet stories and explore more projects in the future.”
Screengrab via Doctor Puppet/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.