Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling are filmmakers who were part of the THIS IS IT Collective. They have carved out a niche for themselves within the short film format, with two successful films, both of which have played and won awards at festivals around the world.
With over one million viewers watching these films on Channel Four and more than 2.5 million views online, the collective has generated a strong international following and achieved great success purely from self-funded projects, showing their passion for filmmaking.
Their most well known and successful project is Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. Beginning as a one-off short film in 2011, the series was crowdfunded and turned into a six-episode miniseries in 2014. The series lampoons children's television shows like Sesame Street by juxtaposing puppets and songs against unsettling imagery and existential horror. Each episode stars a trio of nameless puppets who encounter a "teacher": an anthropomorphic object or animal who tries to teach them about one of the "six subjects of life" through a musical number. The songs start off chipper and happy, but things inevitably take a turn for the worse... and usually culminate in a "lesson" the puppets aren't going to forget anytime soon.
The original short film, released in July 2011, features a sketchbook teaching the puppets about creativity. The sequel was released in January 2014, and involved a dancing clock teaching the gang about the nature of time.
In the wake of the sequel's overwhelming success and popularity, THIS IS IT turned to Kickstarter in order to fully realize the series with crowd funding. A brief series of interstitial videos were produced to raise awareness for the project, depicting the trio being held hostage by a money-obsessed monster.
The third episode was released in October 2014, and featured Yellow Guy learning about the significance of love from a butterfly and his friends. Episode four saw release on March 31st of 2015. It featured a computer teaching the puppets about the internet and the virtual world. On October 14, 2015, Episode 5 was released; introducing a band of musical food and the suggestion that someone or something is hunting down the puppets one by one...
As of June 19th, 2016, the puppets have completed their educational journey after six episodes, six teachers, and one cold and terrible reality. However, a new trailer was released on September 13th, 2018, implying that the puppets' journey isn't over yet, with the trailer leading up to a 23-minute episode that was shown at Sundance.
Tropes that apply to Becky and Joe's works (not including DHMIS)
- And I Must Scream: The wall in "Bad Things That Could Happen" as a nail is hammered into it; its face shows that it is in exquisite pain, but its screaming is completely silent.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Bonus points for actually featuring arson and (arguably) murder: "Bad Things" has a giant match starting a fire, a wall silently screaming as a nail is hammered into it, a rat having its skull split in two and dying very slowly, and ... a pencil misspelling the word "happen".
- Body Horror: "Bad Things" and every installment of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared have some of this, contrasting with the colorful nature of the puppets themselves.
- Broken Record: The ladder character repeating "Better luck next time", after Craig loses the video game.
- Cool Shades: Craig dons some after transforming from a nerd into one who is "big and strong".
- Creator Cameo: Becky and Joe appear at the end of Craig's Big Day.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: the wall in "Bad Things" has a nail hammered through its head.
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Craig plays the game Wacky Pig-Worm!.
- Instant Sedation: The show's creators pull this on Craig.
- Interrupted Suicide: Craig sings about wanting to kill himself after getting a birthday present of poison. It's not really clear why he decides not to follow through with his act, though he does attribute it to his sudden transformation.
- Lighter and Softer: The same team behind DHMIS actually worked on a PSA video for St John Ambulance teaching about CPR. Unlike DHMIS, its taken more seriously and aimed at children and family members.
- Least Rhymable Word: This PSA This Is It made for St. John Ambulance has a band of nursery rhyme characters trying to write a jingle about baby CPR, and struggling to come up with a rhyme for "ambulance".
- The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Craig's reflection spits at him.
- Mess on a Plate: Craig's birthday meal.
- Nerd Glasses: Craig wears them at first.
- One-Person Birthday Party: Craig celebrates his 31st birthday by playing a video game and eating a strange TV meal.
- Similar Squad: The characters in Craig's Big Day almost all appear to be counterparts of the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared universe, including a computer, a clock with a face, the show's creators (like the puppeteers in the fourth Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, a fuming microwave, etc.
- Spiky Hair: Craig boasts about getting hair like this.
- Sudden Musical Ending: Craig's Big Day ends with a musical number.
- Took a Level in Badass:Craig: "I was a nerd, but now I'm big and strong and I've got cool spikes in my hair."
- The Tooth Hurts: The giant mouth in "Bad Things" has its two front teeth ripped out from biting on what is presumably hard candy, leaving behind blood.
- Tyop on the Cover: The title screen of "Bad Things That Could Happpen". At the end of the short, the giant pencil character comes in and crosses out the extra "p".
- Your Head Asplode: The rat in "Bad Things".