Thursday, June 2, 2011

Recently I finished a second rough pass at cutting the boards together.  The first rough cut revealed some things that weren't completely "full" or were straying away from the basic thread of the story.  After looking at it last night with J. I realized that I am at the point a lot of artists get to somewhere during the process.  I have hit a bit of a wall and having some trouble looking at it objectively.  This is precisely the point at which I am getting some much needed fresh eyes on it, to see if my second guessing is a result of hitting this wall or if I have, indeed, found the wrong tree to bark up.  One thing I continually tell my students is to not get married to a drawing or an idea, to allow things to happen organically and when things are working follow it, strengthen it.  I do a lot of that and as a teacher I find that I need to follow my own advice-after all, I am teaching my students MY studio practice.

The last 5 or 6 years have culminated in this cut which is why it will be difficult to let certain things go but I'm pretty certain the right things that are problematic will be clear to the few I will share this iteration with and will inspire me to cut and adjust in the right places.  There are things that work well and things that were done so long ago they seem out of place-a function of working on it for so long allowing things to evolve.  

The other thing that is a little disappointing from my standpoint is that the pacing in the board is strange, not quite there yet so there is a lot of tightening from an editorial standpoint, some screen directions became a little   
odd due to the fact that I was trying to keep old boards that worked in another context-any one thing that has changed has influenced everything else around it which warranted further adjustments to things that were working just fine.  This constant adjusting and readjusting is maybe one of the reasons for "the wall".  When I was working full-time as an animator for commercials I would pour my heart and soul into the first pass of my scenes making them as good as I could.  When the client would ask for a change I would go back to my desk and stare at the scene with disinterest.  I found that I had to dig deep to change something I felt strongly about.  There were times that I felt very strongly that what I'd done was the strongest way of telling that part of the story and did not have much energy to redo parts of it, but would understand how it would function as a part of the whole.  Then there were times that things were changed for change sake and I had even less energy.  This is where I am with the board.  I feel like I've put all of myself into and know that there are sections that are still coming up short.  Still learning.

Now begins the tightening phase and getting a rudimentary sound track to accompany the image.  I hope to have at least 85% of it working for me to move forward.  I need to move forward.  I realize I can't be married to it yet but I need to be going steady or at least promised.


Friday, May 20, 2011

One nice thing about not being too concerned with absolutely correct structure (although it was always in the back of my mind) is that it allowed for things to evolve in a way that I don't feel is contrived.  There are certain moments that generated other moments naturally, and things that I have found along the way that were wonderful surprises that somehow made sense and connected well.  Well into the boarding phase (nearly at the end of the first cut I put together) I had a conversation with a good photographer friend of mine who described an attitude toward photography that strengthened that element of my story.  I had no idea the perception there was among some, or a stigma, that photography carries with it.  Without going into too much detail it was the idea that although the one taking the photograph is "involved" or participating somewhat in the event they are documenting, capturing, the machine itself filters the experience, disallowing the photographer to be an active participant in the event/experience.  Now obviously this is one point of view but since then I've read other material substantiating this particular view.  It was the perfect thing to support some of the more important themes in the story-and something new that I learned.  Again, a great benefit to allowing things to form, not enforce (writer driven) but evolve naturally (story driven) is that I get to learn things I otherwise would not have become interested in.  I know next to nothing about photography and it's place in the modern world, although I have my own ideas sparsely gathered from many resources.
These are also things that have helped shape the main character, helped to "realize" him, give him context and a reason to be who and how he is. I know that other filmmakers do this, allow things to occur naturally, but there is always a knowledge base, an understanding of how those things come about and an ability to let the right things in when they need to be let in.  I want to make sure I don't overstate my inexperience but I really am just now learning how to do these things, much later in my career than I would have liked, but there is solace in knowing that it's happening to some degree.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

1st Post in Process

This is the first post of what I hope to be many.  Like many artist blogs I wanted to create some sort of motivational archive of work.  In this case I also want to include some thoughts about what went into creating this short film, which, relative to what most people consider "short", is not very short.

Between developing this story and teaching classes centered around storyboarding and pre-production for animated shorts I have found myself intensely attracted to "process".  Animation for me has always been about process as well but it wasn't until I finished my first short nearly 10 years ago that the process of developing an entire story became exciting to me.  The story I am currently working on has taken those 10 years to ruminate and become part of the richest creative endeavors of my life.  At times navigating plot has been a bit overwhelming, and other times things seem to have fallen into place.  Simple enough but this is the creative process and I've always embraced the peaks and valleys of it's journey.

 I am not a writer.  I am not a great storyteller.  In most areas concerning story I don't know what I'm doing at all.  I have read a great deal, paid attention to good storytelling and bad, archived what I like in movies thematically and visually.  But I know that none of that is going to make me a great storyteller.  What I lack is experience.  I've been a part of several projects and learned a great deal from them, but again, I feel like the best way to learn how to do this thing, making an interesting film, telling a good story, is to do it.  I also feel strongly about a clarity of intention.  Sincerity is kind of a mantra that I use before I start working each time.  Some of the best animation, films live-action, documentary or animated, books, articles, etc that I have experienced are beaming with sincerity.

One of the reasons why it has taken me so long to develop this story stems from that lack of experience.  I've stumbled quite a bit trying to make sense of what I'm attempting to do, some days very clear and other days I  can't remember what I was thinking at all.  Without training or experience in writing a script I've been approaching the story visually, writing notes about what kinds of things I want and need to address thematically,  attempting to connect things.  I have been working from a central theme since I conceived the idea which serves as the thread of the film.  I'm constantly trying to hang things from that thread, making visual connections that are important to the presentation of the themes and the story itself.

The film has grown to nearly 30 minutes-not short by any stretch but I felt that the things I am wanting to address require patience and some time to explore through the characters.  It's very possible that it doesn't require that much time at all but with the current cut of the storyboards it feels right.  At the moment I am finishing some new story panels that will help solidify some story points that were not very strong in the last cut.  One thing I have learned for myself is that I love the storyboard phase, but I am now growing tired of it and looking forward to exploring the overall visual direction of the film.  I have a personality type that does not permit me to work on other aspects of something until the present phase is finished.  It's been exhausting and challenging trying to say what I want to say simply but interestingly and I feel that I may be at the end of what I can do with storyboards.  I am not the strongest in this area either but I have learned a great deal more about what excites me about films from a visual standpoint and I've tried very hard and honestly to apply what I've gained from those lessons.

Moving forward I will begin to generate concept art that will help focus the art direction of the film-again, an area I am not very strong in and honestly have a small vision for what I want it to look like so I am eager to set forth on this next challenge.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  This is going to be a way for me to get everything out in front of me and out of my head to see if any of it at all is making sense.