Mark Matthew “Marq” Evans (’03 Busi.) was aware of Will Vinton and his iconic work. But it wasn’t until the documentary filmmaker read an online article about the rise and fall of the “Father of Claymation” that he reached out in the hope of telling the story.
“It had it all. There was all this glamor and built-in drama,” says Evans, who harbored a certain nostalgia for the characters Vinton created.
The charismatic, ground-breaking artist—creator of the California Raisins, Domino’s Pizza “Noid,” and the M&Ms characters—revolutionized the animation business during the 1980s and 1990s, but lost control of his Academy Award- and Emmy-winning studio in 2002.
In 2015, Vinton agreed to meet, but Evans was told the renowned stop-motion clay animator “was not really interested in doing a film.” Six months later, though, he agreed. Filming started on Claydream in 2016.
Evans spent five years working on the film, which premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in summer 2021 and, shortly after that, was shown at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. He wrote, directed, produced, and did some editing on the film, his second full-length documentary.
His first major project, The Glamour and the Squalor, documented the career and personal struggles of famed Seattle deejay Marco Collins, credited with popularizing bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Beck, Weezer, Garbage, and the Presidents of the United States of America. Evans directed and produced the 2015 film, which he also worked on for five years.
Before that, he had a career in sales that took him and his wife, photographer Angela (McCaw) Evans (’03 Comm.) to Phoenix, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and San Diego.
When his stepfather died, Evans and his stepbrother, Kevin Noland of Spirit Lake Pictures in Spokane, made a short video for the service. “It was emotional work,” Evans says, noting that, at the same time, the pair “talked about how much fun it would be to work on a feature-length project together.”
Soon, they were flying back and forth from Haiti, working on a still-unfinished documentary about the catastrophic January 12, 2010, earthquake and its aftermath. “The story has taken on a life of its own,” says Evans, who had caught the filmmaking bug and realized that sales “just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I wanted to be doing something creative.” So, he says, “my wife and I quit our jobs and sold everything.”
The Washington native—Evans was born in Yakima and grew up in Tri-Cities—moved to Bremerton, where he works on films and other projects in his basement and teaches filmmaking at Olympic College. He and his wife formed The McCaw, a creative studio that, according to his LinkedIn page, “produces films, photography, books, special events and other unclassifiable works.”
Last year, The McCaw published two books, Bands by Jude, inspired and created by his son, Jude McCaw Evans, 10, and Booze by Bear: 25 Cocktails for Seasonal Living. The McCaw also directs creative duties for Cow by Bear, a dinner party experience in San Diego and Seattle.
Evans earned his master of fine arts in film/cinema/video studies in 2020 from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lists his influences as documentary filmmakers Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.
Toward the end of making Glamour, Evans came across the story detailing how Vinton “lost his studio to a rapper named Chilly Tee,” aka Travis Knight, son of billionaire Nike founder Phil Knight. He found Vinton’s email address and reached out the same day.
Now he’s working on a true crime film documenting a woman’s 1986 disappearance in Kodiak, Alaska. “There are many questions that remain, and things that don’t add up,” Evans says.
He and his wife “pick projects we’re really excited about,” Evans says. “We’re always busy. The great thing is, this is the stuff we love doing.”
Trailer for Claydream