Portrait of an artist as a youngster, conjuring the mischief inside a refrigerator once the door closes.
Ray Griggs, at 8 or 9, had an active imagination and a bent for technology. The Tandy TL computer did all right with animation, and the boy used it to tell a story of warring soft drink brands, Coke versus Pepsi.
"You put them in the fridge, and they started having this big food fight," he recalls.
Griggs outgrew the Tandy. His passion for storytelling only got bigger.
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Though he considers St. Joseph, Mo., home, Griggs, 36, lives in Los Angeles and regards himself a filmmaker of the science fiction/fantasy variety.
But the buzz that surrounds the director at this moment, manifested by network television interviews and a story last month in The New York Times, deals with his documentary work.
The trailer for his movie I Want Your Money, which opens Friday, has had nearly 3 million viewings since going up on YouTube in August.
Married and the father of three, Griggs says concern for his children's future pushed him to make the documentary that takes to task President Barack Obama's economic policies.
"The opportunities that I had and the freedoms in this country, I don't see them for my kids," he says. "It's no long er our government, when it should be."
The film uses archival footage, clips from contemporary news shows and interviews with political figures like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee to state a case. A mock MasterCard commercial sniffs out pork-barrel projects found in the economic stimulus bill.
It also features 30 minutes of animation, including an Oval Office fiscal face-off between Presidents Obama and Ronald Reagan.
The animation proves a nod to younger audience members and the filmmaker's entertainment instincts.
"I stepped out of my comfort zone to do this," Griggs says. "I thought, if I'm going to make a documentary, it's going to be one I would want to watch."
His political mentor, Missouri state Rep. Rob Schaaf, a Republican, has seen a cut of the documentary, in which he has a small role. He thinks Griggs, despite his reluctance to follow this path, can serve as a counterpoint to a noted liberal documentarian.
"I think there's a vacuum for a GOP filmmaker," Schaaf says. "There really hasn't been an answer to Michael Moore, and I think Ray is stepping into that role."
Next up for Griggs is an adaptation of the children's classic The Wind in the Willows, which will take him to New Zealand and have him working with Weta Digital, the visual effects company that won Oscars for the Lord of the Rings movies. But before that work begins, he remains clear-eyed about I Want Your Money's box-office possibilities. "You have $10. Are you going to watch Bruce Willis in an action film or are you going to watch a documentary?" the director says.
But political winds, with maybe a portent from YouTube statistics, could blow a big audience his way. The storyteller would like that ending.