Sunday, September 20, 2009
An old idea/A new film
*above images showing some emotional moments from my new film-in-progress.
One of the things I cherish most about working from home is that it allows me more time on personal independent projects. Right now I'm teaching a class at NYU called Intermediate Animation Production, and the goal is that students complete a one minute film over the 15 week term. Over the summer I got the idea that it might be fun to make my own film alongside the students. The weekly homework reviews would give me deadlines to hit and ensure that I'd have new finished film by December. I'm hoping the students get a kick out of giving me notes, too! And, I don't doubt that the feedback could prove instructional for the class as well as helpful to my film.
For the film, I selected an old idea of mine called Keisha Katterpillar. The simple story concerns the titular character's hurry to grow up and get her butterfly wings so she can be just like her older brother Karl. The catterpillar/butterfly scenario is well-traveled territory, but my approach is to focus on Keisha's resourceful imagination to show how she thinks her problem through to try and achieve (what we know is) the impossible. And, through Keisha's problem, show how her family comes together to be there for her.
It was very enlightening to revisit the old material. For one, there was a lot of extra dialogue and description in the script that I was able to trim (something that would have helped my last film!). Frequent readers of this blog will know that I'm a big advocate of self imposed rules on an independent film. Rules help speed up the process of elimination and this is important because what to leave out shapes what to leave in.
A couple of important rules immediately sprang to the surface as I prepared a storyboard. The first rule I made was to limit the film to four scenes or acts with only four backgrounds or locations. Although, I might change my mind, right now I'm thinking that there will be no camera work/pans/zooms, etc. And, no cuts either. I plan to animate the transitions between scenes and keep Keisha's position consistent in the bridge between each scene. This further emphasizes her as THE character. I also used a round window shape in the first scene to reappear as a bathroom mirror or family portrait in subsequent scenes. I'm hoping this repeating bit of the layout further helps further anchor the transitions.
I hadn't intended to make yet another children's film, but there is something in this story that is still calling to me five years later, so the timing seems right to give it a try. And, I've been encouraged by the success of my other recent children's films. In October I'm going to attend The Chicago International Children's Film Festival where two of my films were accepted into competition: "Owl and Rabbit Play Checkers," and Iwanna Wanda in "Don't Wanna Brush." The latter is my newest film made for a client who hired me after seeing my other recent children's film, "Good Morning." These children's films have been a joy to make, a major creative challenge, and have opened up a lot of great commercial opportunities. While nobody has an exact road map of what they should do next, I'm beginning to think that I'm spending my creative energies in the right place.