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THAT’S THUMB BUSINESS THEY’VE GOT THERE

A sample flip book – played through three times – by Flipping Fun, which has opened a studio in Red Bank. 

By STACIE FANELLI

Dance a jig, kiss a lover, do the wave, perform a silent skit: with a flip book, seven seconds of nuttiness becomes a tangible memory you can riffle through again and again.

In fact, you have to.

And that’s part of the allure of flip books, “the photo booths of the 21st century,” in the words of Meredith Barrett, who with business partner Matt Selton opened Flipping Fun last month to produce them for walk-ins at a new studio on East Front Street in Red Bank.

 Meredith Barrett and Matt Selton in their new East Front Street studio. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

Corporate gigs are a mainstay for Flipping Fun. Last week, Barrett and Selton took a team of production assistants to New York for Fashion Night Out to make a book for designer Diane von Furstenberg. And red carpet events are all in a day’s work. Other clients include Ralph Lauren, Coca Cola, Chase, Ford and the Tribeca Ball, where Selton earned the  right to say he has directed Martin Scorsese, if only for sixty frames.

But bar mitzvahs and weddings are a fun specialty for the pair. As company president, Selton gets to work while rocking wacky sunglasses and a top hat.

“Until you’ve worked an event, you really don’t get how much fun your job is,” Barrett said. Success, he says, is a measure of “how many boa feathers can we end up with on the floor.”

Before taking over the long-vacant space at 23 East Front, Flipping Fun was quietly headquartered in offices on Mechanic Street and on Hudson Avenue for the past four years. Now, even though 90 percent of Flipping Fun’s events are in New York, the owners hope to weave their way into the Red Bank community as they offer walk-in sessions for the first time.

The store is in the midst of a soft opening, operating Saturday nights only, but plans to open more frequently are in the works. The studio is equipped to shoot and produce flip books in a single session.

The holiday season always drives sales, Barrett said, and the store will be open Halloween so that trick-or-treaters can put their sugar-induced energy into a lifetime memory. At Christmas, families often choose to replace still photo cards with flip books showing a tree being lit or a gift being given.

Because of all the ink, cameras and software involved, flip book manufacturing can get expensive. But while a well-attended party might cost upwards of $500 an hour, rates for walk-ins making single books will be affordable — in the ballpark of $15 for reprints, the owners say.

That price covers as many takes as the customer wants. It’s not like a driver’s license photo. You don’t have to like it and move on. It’s all about the experience, Barrett said, referencing their slogan: “We’re not just party favors. We’re entertainment!”

Barrett imagines endless possibilities for quirky advertising in local businesses. She even sees the potential to change how people go out to have a good time.

“People could go to the bar and make a flip book,” she suggested. “We’re thinking maybe we could work something out with one of the local bars where their alcohol distributor does a co-op advertising thing so that it doesn’t cost [the bar] any money but they get the traffic from it,” she said.

Across the street, New Corner Italian Restaurant plans to make a flip book featuring a pizza chef tossing dough into the air, turning to the oven and then presenting a finished pie. Then they’ll place those books near the cash register for customers’ entertainment.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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