Profile: Paul Pistore

Published on 11 April 2016

Puppet master Paul Pistore has built a company around kid-friendly characters, specialty props and costumes.

BY DAPHNE ONG

When Paul Pistore headed for Singapore’s shores, little did he expect a year’s stint to turn into an 11-year new-career phase which is still going strong today. Speaking to the man and watching him at work leaves no doubt about the virtuosity of his craft of making and performing with puppets.

Pistore’s unusual career began as a set and props designer. Moving to Los Angeles to get started in showbiz, he worked as a tour guide at Universal Studios, progressing to voice-overs, then prop- building and puppeteering, rising to lead puppeteer in the theme park’s An American Tail show. Hollywood also features in his extensive resumé — Pistore has worked on films like Batman Returns (“I did the penguins!”), Alien: Resurrection and Men in Black 2.

Through it all, childhood education was one factor that remained a top motivator. “Seeing kids entranced at puppet shows reminded me of my childhood and how I loved [American puppeteer] Jim Henson. I learned that puppetry is a way to speak to people, especially children, and to present education in a way that they can approach.”

This passion led him to earn a Telly Award in the US for his “proudest work” as Mr Moose on children’s TV programme, The All New Captain Kangaroo, in addition to two Omni Awards for his work on television show Apartment 51.

After a string of other films, commercials and television shows, he was ready to move on. “The work I did started to get replaced by CGI [Computer-Generated Imagery] in movies,” says Pistore. “The first job I lost to CGI was Jurassic Park.” Following a voice-over opportunity to Singapore, Pistore began working in children’s musicals with I Theatre, where he would go on to churn out four years’ worth of unrivalled puppets, props and specialty costumes. After a further two years with Universal Studios Singapore, he struck out on his own to start Core Crew Fx (CCFx).

Pistore’s face lights up when he talks about CCFx’s scope of work, mainly live special effects, puppets, and specialty props and costumes. One of the company’s biggest projects has been to build puppets for Legoland Malaysia’s Ninjago show. With each bunraku-style puppet standing over 1 metre-tall and equipped with fancy mechanisms, this was no mean feat.

Looking ahead, Pistore has his eye fixed on building up CCFx as a Singapore-based company, working primarily with local talent. “Singapore is growing as an entertainment centre. We want to be at the forefront of that, helping to build it up and create our own content.”

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