Don’t Ride Shopping Carts, a twenty-five-minute stop-motion film by Graeme Patterson, won the top animation prize at New Jersey’s Garden State Film Festival in April 2003. The film follows Gremly, Patterson’s autobiographical character, over several days as he struggles with the dark surrealism of his dreams and the mundane loneliness of his existence. In the first segment of the film, “The Nightmare,” the shopping cart from Gremly’s workaday routine comes to life. He rides it like a demon and breaks his neck over and over again. Another dream segment, “The Vision,” shows a pure white, utopian scaffolding that carries Gremly (again in the shopping cart) out of his apartment block. Over the following days, dreams and reality merge as Gremly sketches, measures and builds a ramp. Is the vision realized? With a final leap, Gremly finds himself in a place beyond even his deepest imaginings.
Patterson filmed his animation entirely on a Web cam and edited it on an eight-year-old computer. He also designed the puppets and sets, created the sounds and composed the musical score. In all, the film took a year and a half to complete. “The narrative is experimental, so it doesn’t have to make sense at first—I’m still figuring it out … This animation is a metaphor for the process and evolution of the artist and his/her art.” Don’t Ride Shopping Carts has been screened at the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Cornerstone Festival in Illinois and the Symposium international d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul.