When I'm not glued to my computer writing about movies, I'm stuck to my studio chair -- up to my ears in the ramshackle contraptions I create that often take over my entire table, floor and other areas of the apartment. Part of my art repertoire is creating miniature worlds out of anything I can find and inserting characters strung together from a bizarre assortment of materials. A demented dollhouse disguised as art? Perhaps. But I'm not content to toy with their floppy, awkward bodies as I once did in my younger years. In order to breathe life into these figures, I manipulate them for stop-motion video shoots.

Plastic toys inhabit the world of Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar in their 2009 stop-motion animation film, A Town Called Panic, which revolves around the adventures that a group of plastic toys (the essential Cowboy, Indian and Horse) encounter as they go about their daily lives. It's a zany good time.

Panic's distributor, Zeitgeist Films, is hosting a stop-motion animation contest in honor of the U.S. DVD release this year. The winning film will be included on the DVD and you'll even get five copies to spread the love around. Nine runner-up filmmakers get other prizes and the rest of you will probably go home and sulk over a Brothers Quay movie. Invite me over if you do.

The deadline for the contest is March 1 and all that's required to enter is a stop-motion film under three minutes long, using the theme of "panic" as your guide. It's open to all ages and will not be judged on the sophistication of the animation so break out your children's toys or do a little dumpster diving and get crackin'. All the contest details are right over here.