Saturday, 23 March 2013

Script - Edit V05

I reworked the script from the characters perspective. My aim was to get the characters thought process and resulting actions true to the character and the situation. Aiming to get him to emote so the audience can feel and empathise with the character. Ed's Feedback follows. 

ALBERT is running through a tunnel. He is in danger and is scared. He is carrying a torch in one hand and a map in another. The sound of aircraft and explosions can be heard and felt. As he runs for his life he is looking ahead. The tunnel has shafts which appear throughout and with each one he approaches his eyes follow. As he arrives at each he looks up and outwards toward the sky, as they become physically impossible for him to see out of, his eyes move forward looking again as he searches for the next one. Each shaft runs from exposed land at the very top to the tunnels ceiling at the very bottom. An explosion occurs nearby. A bundle of rubble falls from above. This causes him to trip up. No more explosions or aircraft can be heard. He takes a second longer than he should rising. Out of breath, he pulls himself together with urgency remembering he is still in danger. Before he has time to finish recomposing he moves towards the nearest shaft. He looks upwards to the sky trying to conceal as much of himself as possible. Albert’s eyes frantically search the opening. He cannot see anything and is extremely twitchy. He is shaking and his breath keeps murmuring. He turns his ear towards the shaft. We can tell by the frantic searching of his eyes he has heard something but his murmuring is making it impossible for him to hear. Frustrated by his inability to control his shaking he shakes his head and upper body with all his strength in an attempt to over power his physiology and to regain control. Still twitchy but now silent, he quickly turns his ear to the shaft again. An aircraft can be heard approaching from the distance. Albert responds with a calm, fearful, but focused state as he snaps his ear closer to the shaft for confirmation. He looks around frantically searching for a hiding place. The walls of the tunnel dip in and out in a random nature. He spots a gap at the base of the wall for which he could slide under. He frantically moves toward the gap, picking up the map before getting himself in. He closes his eyes taking deep breaths. 
Come on, you’ve got me, I’m dead, you’ve done your job, you can go.
Alberts eyes shoot open, he’s remembered he hadn’t picked everything up.
The flashlight
The flashlight could spark their interest and give them reason to send a ground patrol. Albert searches around with his eyes, he spots it directly beneath the shaft. He has to get it. The aircraft is getting close. Albert is nervous. Is the aircraft to close? Does he have enough time to get the light before the aircraft passes? These thoughts run through his head. At the high of indecisiveness he lets out a gasp. Albert pulls himself out of the gap and jumps across the tunnels visible floor space, picking up the flashlight as he does. He lands laying on the floor. He turns the flashlight off. He looks back, he is well clear of the visible space of the shaft. He is still scared as the plane passes. He is still not safe. He freezes up, even his breath can just about be seen passing through the lungs. The plane starts to fly away. He still remains stiff. He doesn’t know if the aircraft is just turning. Once the sound is very distant. He knows they think he’s dead. He breathes a deep sigh of relief. He’s made it, but only for now.

He sits up putting his back against the wall of the tunnel. He takes a big breath and holds it briefly before releasing. He pulls a piece of paper from his top pocket. It is a photograph. Looking at it instantly makes him feel warm inside. 
I’m coming back. I never told you how much I miss you. But in truth I’d do anything to be with you. If only I could tell you to your face and not your photograph. I mean, I don’t even know how I got here, this tunnel, this war. How did I get so far? so fast? I know we’re all in it one way or another. Lost, scared, not knowing what’s around the corner? I feel I know the corner though. It feels real to me. I feel I should know what is around it. But when I get there its always different. How can something so familiar and so knowing always be so different when we cross it? This tunnel, it leads to a radio control point. It makes no sense to me to be here. The land above has been destroyed. Ripped apart. It's Ruined lives (pause) cost souls. I’m sick of this war. If I can get to the control point, my hope is to make contact with HQ and come back home, come back to you. 
Albert pulls his head and photograph together so they meet. Gunfire can be heard in the distance. He immediately hears and moves his head to the source to listen and to confirm he heard gunfire. It definitely is gunfire. Albert takes one last stare at the photograph before kissing it and placing it back in his top pocket. He picks up the flashlight and opens up the map.
Shit. Where am I?
While he was running he lost track. He frantically looks around. He spots the shaft. Walking over to the shaft he stops just before it. Although the sound is distant he still doesn’t want to risk being seen. He places his hand on the edge and leans in. For every push forward of his head there is a pull back as he edges in. Awkwardly he is just able to see a number – the shaft number - without exposing too much of himself to the shaft opening.
Albert pulls back out of the shaft opening and inspects the map. 
367B… 367B… Come on… 367B…
It’s so close.
Albert is suspicious about being so far into the shaft. Has he really run that far? He doesn’t remember running that far. But he must of.
He turns around to the direction of the tunnel he entered.
I’ve come all that way?
He takes a step backwards toward the direction he wishes to go before turning completely. He walks further on into the tunnel.

Still aware that he could be in danger, he walks at a fast pace, still cautious around each shaft hatch, speeding up slightly as he passes under each one. The threat is still very real to him. Albert approaches his destination. He is ever more cautious than before. Questions are running around his head. He knows he needs what is behind the door. However, he doesn’t know what is on the other side of the door. He could be walking into anything. Stuck out in a battle zone there could be a whole battalion of the enemies men waiting for him on the other side. This was once the allies’ territory, since becoming in neither sides complete occupation, he really knows nothing of what could be in there.

He turns out the flashlight placing it and the map in his trouser pockets. He creeps up to the door at a slow pace. Rather than speeding up underneath the last remaining shaft he chooses to remain steady and work around the space. Why risk exposing himself now? As he approaches the door he slows down to almost a complete halt. He turns his ear toward the door, listening, before placing it against the door. He is very still. He doesn’t know if there is anyone in there, and if it sounds as though there isn’t, how does he know that they are not sleeping? In order for him to hear them breathe or snore he needs to be really quiet.

Something passes behind him. He immediately turns his head and sharply stops its orientation at the location sounds source. It’s dark, and he can’t see too far into the tunnel. Have they sent a search party the other way to find him? Could both sides trap him? Hearing a squeak, he looks down. He sees a rat. He sighs quietly with relief.

He pulls something from his pocket and takes a quick glance. He is reading a section on the folded map. It is the code for the doors lock. Placing his ear back against the door he listens in. As he does he places his hand on the doors lock. It is similar to a lock of a safe or vault. He turns the dial softly and slowly. He reaches the first number and pauses. He listens to see if he has provoked movement. He can’t hear anything. He turns to the next number a little quicker this time. He can’t help being pulled into two directions, for all his will not to be caught by anyone lurking the other side of the door, he just as equally doesn’t want to be caught from this side either. He pauses again after the second number to listen. He again hears nothing. This time, feeling more confident there is no one behind the door, he finishes off the next two numbers of the code in quick succession. He pushes the door slightly. Allowing a small gap to appear he peers through. There is nothing there. The room is only slightly visible through some external light filtering through. Not wanting to risk diving in there with a more conclusive result, he takes the flashlight out of his pocket and shines it through the gap. It appears run down. A turned over chair indicates this but still, he opens the door slowly, wanting to remain cautious.
As the door fully opens he quickly checks the room. Once confirmed vacant, he turns and checks one last time that no one is behind. Albert closes the door fairly quick, but as he fully closes he slows down. He wants to avoid sending any noise echoing down the tunnel that might alert possible enemies. After it is shut, he quickly searches the room with his eyes. He doesn’t think the door is enough security to keep anyone out. He needs some reassurance. He picks up one of the chairs and wedges it underneath the handle. Wanting to ease his security fears again he pulls on the handle gently before pulling back. The chair will suffice.

Feeling safe he can set about his task without having to concern too much with the entrence. That is not to say that he does not want to be caught. He knows the slightest sound could give him away. The flashlight has sufficiant light on where it focuses but albert feels this is not enough. He searches the ceiling for lights. Without much fuss he finds one. He searches for a switch. Locating it he places his finger on the switch. Doubt crosses his mind. Could turning the lights on be a risk also? He looks around the room. He spots an opening. He realises that as much as noise may give him away so could any light that leaves the bunker. He removes his hand from the switch.
I suppose it's just me and you. (To flashlight)
Ivestigating the room in search of the radio, Albert comes across an armor and ammunition unit. It is completely empty except for helmets.
Thats strange. Even in an emergency why would you take all the guns and ammunition and leave the helmets?
The thought seems strange. But just as soon as the thought crosses his mind the doubt of rationality is removed by a self assessment. Knowing his situation, he inspects his own head.
Hah, So they're not the only ones.
The thought lingers as he questions himself as to why he never thought to bring a helmet. What concerns him as he tries to justify his own rationality is he doesn't remember anything before hiding in the tunnel. That thought scares him most. The fear of the answer results in him quickly replacing the thoughts by moving on as he investigates more.

He finds a stove. He shines the light through the bars of the door. He can't see anything. Curiosity getting the better of him, he attempts to open the door, It's wedged shut. He loses his curiosty. This surely can't be that important to the situation.

At the opposite far side to the entrence is another door. Realising this could be a safety concern, albert turns off the flashlight and walks over to it. The door is another that opens inwards. the difference between them is a metal bar that stretches beyond the width of the door and its frame. Albert pulls the handle of the door, It is secure.
That means they must of left through the tunnel. The protection of the tunnel - no need for helmets.
He says this calmly. He doubts himself as to whether this reason is the real reason, but it is the only rational explanation he can produce.

Shifting his thoughts back to the door he takes another look. There is a small opening which can be seen through. He takes a look. This door leads to open land. No protection from the air. There is a forecourt carved out of the mud and rubble with a road that stretches away. Even more suprising is a car parked there. The thoughts running through alberts head are full of questions.
So whats your story? Why are you hear? (to the car)
Albert looks around the open space around the car before stretching as far as he can see to the left and right of the opening.
It's an ally vehicle so wheres your daddy?
Unable to spot anyone albert draws to a conclusion.
Your daddy must of left through the tunnel. But why did he leave you? Did he not want the aireal risk or are you broke?
The thought holds his focus as he moves back into the bunker. He is feeling cautious  towards everything he crosses. He has to investigate every aspect on the environment because it might help him during his journey. In this harsh environment aides do not come by easily. He turns on the flashlight and shines it into the part of the room remaining to uncover. There is a desk with a radio sittingon top of it, which has a separate mircophone reciever next to it. Above on the wall is a map. This is makes Albert extremely happy. Who'd of thought they'd of left the radio as they vacated. Who'd of thought they would have left this to potentially get into enemy hands?
It's as good as treason leaving that open to enemies. (Alberts pride gets in the way) Fate must be watching. (Elevated) You hear that Molly? I'm coming home. (To the photograph in his top pocket)
Albert cannot wait to get to the radio. Albert sees getting to the radio as having taken the first major step toward getting home to his wife. It may even be the biggest. Finding a communication point in what can be considered no mans land with only bare essentials is a huge feat. He has managed to evade the enemy airforce. This is his opportunity to show his wife just what she means to him. And he wants that more than anything. If war has taught him anything it is the reality that life could be over any minute, so he should show appreciation to the ones he loves. He had never felt that before the war. Death was a distant thought. The idea of never seeing the one who cared for him most had never crossed his mind as he left. The war has changed him. That change has transformed that radio from a practical tool to a mythical object. One he never thought he would see.

Albert arrives at the table. He is happy and full of hope. This is it. He is going home. He places his finger on the power button. He takes a breath. He has waited so long for this moment and he has worked so hard. He pushes the button. Cautious of the noise he turns the volume down. He takes a look at the door as he does so. The power light appears. He picks up the microphone.
Silver One to Mother Hen over. (Static Rings out) Silver One to Mother Hen over. (Static Rings out) (Pause)
Albert starts to get concerned. He doesn't have the time to waste. If they have sent a search party it won't take them long to realise he was not killed, and it will take even less time to trace his location.
(Firmly with urgency)
Silver One to Mother Hen. Silver One to Mother Hen over.
Static rings out
Albert gets a repsonse. He is about to respond when the power dies.
No no no no no no.... nooo... come on come on
Albert is panicked. If he cannot get the radio to work he is as good as a fox running from a pack of dogs that cannot find a river – he is already dead, its just a matter of when. He pulls the radio toward him as he frantically inspects the device. He flicks the power button several times. Nothing. He hits the sides in a last attempt to force some life into the object. Nothing happens. Alberts frustration is brought to an immediate change to fear. He turns toward the door. Three knocks bang from the otherside.

Albert freezes. Does he stay still and hope they go away? Maybe they will listen in as he did. These thoughts go through his mind. It is apparent this is not going to happen as the handle turns. Albert looks at the other exit. Maybe he could leave via the other exit. The door handle shakes more abruptly. Albert makes up his mind. If he does not go now he could be in real danger. His actions are twitchy and abrupt. He pulls the map from the wall and places it in his pocket. He runs toward the armory case and takes a helmet. He is still trying to remain silent – they might give up trying to enter. Anyone hope of this is over as in the process of removing the helmet, the shelf breaks and they all fall to the floor. The helmets all smash into pieces. Albert cannot believe what he is seeing. Maybe thats why they were left behind. The door handle stops moving. Alberts attention is pulled between the door and the broken objects on the floor. This raises questions in his mind as to whether he should wait to see if they leave. This option is ruled out as he realises the helmet would of gave him away. Theres no way they could not of heard the noise. He looks at the helmet remaining in his hand. What ever it is, and for what ever reason it was left behind, it clearly does not work. He places the helmet on the table. The last remaining hope that whoever is on the otherside of the door might give up is over as the door handle turns and the door is pushed more aggressive. Albert runs to the other exit. He attempts to lift the safety bar. It will not move. He will have to try harder. He attempts again with more effort. It will not budge. He is surprised. He studies it. It doesn't seem to be locked down. He shakes the bar. It doesn't move. Its solid. He is scared. He doesn't know what else to do. Whoever or however many they or there is have got him. He is now the fox at the end of valley with nowhere to turn with a pack of hungry dogs waiting to get him. He gets into a ball in the corner of the room. He pulls out the picture in his pocket and folds his arms, burying his head into them.
I tried, I really tried. I'd of settled for one last time to see you. To feel you. To feel your palm as my fingers slot between yours. The smooth air soothing my lungs as we walk along the river. The summer sun filling every inch exposed with joy. The way your hair would float across my face as we kiss. And that look in your eyes. The tenderness, the deep glow that emits those words. The words of which I am to coward to speak. The disappointment that takes over your smile as you turn away, and your eyes, that weep to me as you try and conceal your contempt in the lack of assertiveness I posses. And as I close my eyes... as I... close my eyes...
Alberts eyes close
...I can hear your...
Albert opens his eyes. Did he hear a voice or dream it? Did her voice wake him up to save him?
Hello? Can you open the door please.
Albert doesn't know if he should answer. If he pretends the bunker is vacant they might think the door is blocked by rubble.
I know you're there. Please open the door.
What do you want with me? How do I know your not going to kill me?
I would never want to hurt you. I just need this door to be opened so I know your okay? I will leave you to it after. You're making me worry.
Who sent you?
Nobody sent me. Im concerned about you. All I want to see is that you've not hurt yourself. I heard a smash. Can you please tell me you're not hurt?
I'm fine. I'm fine. How many of you is there?
Just me? Why would there be anyone else? Are you sure you're okay? 
Why do you want to come in so bad? So you can finish me off? So you can take me and torture the life out of me? Because I can tell you, as far as I'm concerned you've already killed me.
Albert looks at the photograph.
You leave me no option but to hold out. I mean, you must think i'm crazy if you think i'm just going to unlock the door.
Look, I live in there...
You live in here? Are you crazy?! This place has been empty for months...
Okay. Let me prove it to you. The radio doesn't work, does it? ... I've just got back with a battery.
What do you want with the radio?
It provides me with background noise during the day. It can be quite lonely sometimes.
So its YOUR fault im stuck here? I'm stuck in no mans land. Unable to get back to my wife, who I want to see, to tell her what I wish i'd told her before I left for this place. And all because you needed background noise in the day? And then you expect me to open the door? Even though you're probably just going to kill me anyway? 
Albert listen, you have a photograph right? Of the woman?
How do you know my name?
Do you have the photograph?
Yeah. How'd you know that?
It's ripped one of the corner right?
Albert hadn't noticed this before. He looks at the photograph. He is surprised and intrigued.
It is isn't it? I know this because I have the frame to that picture here too. Now I want you to listen very carefully. I do not want to hurt you. I LOVE YOU. Listen... I LOVE YOU. Can you hear me?
I love YOU
Molly? MOLLY! Is that you? What are you doing here?! You sounded like a man? How did you find me? Why would you be living he....
Al, please open the door? For me?
Albert removes the chair and opens the door. He is still nervous.
I hope this isn't some sort of trick.
Albert steps back from the door as he removes the chair. He isn't confident about the situation. In many ways he feels he had been left with little choice. What could he have realistically done? The only exit he could have used has the biggest risk. How did the voice change? Why was he miss hearing? These insecurities run through his mind.
The door opens. A figure enters the room. Albert closes his eyes. He is too scared to look. If somebody is going to kill him, he doesn't want that to be the last thing he sees. 
I'm walking down the riverside path, it's summer, about 11 o'clock. The suns brightening up the day. Your hair swirls as the gentle wind filters through. I stop and turn you towards me. and i tell you. I tell you i love you. No fear, no nerves, just calm, as calm as the still water of the canal. It's easy. so easy. I love you.
Something comes into contact with Albert. It is sudden, unexpected and knocks the wind out of him. Thinking about Molly, he had forgotten where he was. He looks in pain and struggling to catch his breath. He looks down and to one side. A woman is hugging him. It is molly. 
I told you, i love you. 
Albert relaxes and responds by putting his arms around her.
I love you. I'm so glad to see you
Good. I'm glad you're back.
We still have to get out of here, and get home...How're we going to...
Al, can't you see? We are home! Look. Really, look... Theres the TV. Theres the unit with the radio underneath our favourite painting. Theres the window, can't you see outside? Theres my display cabinet and... and my broken china!That must of been what i heard. You don't seem to have cut yourself. 
Albert Realises that he is not where he thinks he is. Albert and Molly now appear old. It is 2013.
I've been here all along? Whats going on? How could i think that? It felt so real, so believable. I thought i was going to die. I really thought that was it. That i'd never see you again. 
But it wasn't to be. Albert, you have dementia. But it's okay. I'm taking care of you. That wish you recited, as i walked in, about walking down by the riverside and you tell me you love me. That really happened. When you got back from the war. It was the happiest day of my life. 
Albert and Molly hug. He accepts he is home with Molly. He is happy.

Hey -

The set up is working better now, but I think you can do more foreshadowing.  When he is running through tunnels and such, let him pass himself running in the other direction or something.  Get Molly down there some place.  All of that will disorient him even more, which will foreshadow his dementia, and it will alert the audience that what is on the screen may possibly not be reality.

I made some page-specific comments, but I stopped doing that at page 8 because I was making the same notes over and over.  Too much unnecessary dialogue, too much description of his internal thoughts.  Tell the story through his actions.  Let the audience figure out his thoughts for itself.

….and so...

Page 2 -- That is a long monologue, Adam, even if these are thoughts in his head.  From a screenwriting perspective, this is a weak device for conveying context and story.  It is stronger to let the audience figure out all of that by watching what the character is doing.  A long monologue is closer to a novel than a movie.

page 3
He doesn't need to say, "Where am I?"  He only needs to think it.  The audience will figure out that he is confused.  "Shit" is okay though.

same with "I've come all that way?"  don't need it.

page 4 -- Whoa!  This looks exactly like a page from "War and Peace", Adam.  Try conveying all of this through his behavior.  I realize you are describing each and every thing he is doing, but it really is not necessary.  "Have they sent a search party …."  All that kind of thing is unnecessary.  Don't tell us what he is thinking.  Show us!

page 5 -- same thing, you're telling us what he is thinking instead of showing us.  The line "I suppose it's just me and you" is not necessary.  He only has to glance at the flashlight.  The audience will get it.  In fact, all of the dialogue on this page is unnecessary.

"The thought lingers as he questions himself as to why he never thought ….

Adam Elliot

Last week we analysed some of Adam Elliots early work which included, Human Behavioural Studies part one, Uncle, Cousin and Brother, with reference to Harvey Krumpet to which we have already seen. 

Human Behavioural Studies part One. 

This short piece contained three or four of what we described as fragments of character, which have recurred in later work, which explore the personalities of youngsters which i think were members of the narrators class. Each describe behaviours which are not directly descriptive of character but are suggestive of their characteristics. They all adopt this approach but the last one has the addition of a linear narrative structure, in that the actions result in reactions. This last character has more said about her situation and emotions than the others. She placed a vacuum cleaner on her dads penis - she now lives with her mom. The lighter humourous tone of the action, present in all, is met with a darker and internal, negative reaction. As Ed Hooks would say, mans limitation meets mans potential (comedy to drama). 

Uncle, Cousin and Brother.

Each ends slightly different in terms of a positive ro negative outcome. The fragmented descriptions of what the narrator remembers of each character again say more than being completely unambiguous. Each story builds up to a massively positive moment, before dropping instantly negative. The emotive arc is again comedy into drama, the characters are fun and lively before becoming quite tragic. They all contain factual elements and are all based on real people (uncle based on his eight uncles), and Elliot is quoted saying that 'Truth should never get in the way of a good story'. Brother though, is the most accurate of the series, saying that the brother is 'himself'. 

I think he adopts both sympathy and empathy, the sympathy coming from the characters and the empathy from the narrator. This is interesting, because it also links back to how Ed Hooks described Dads No All There Anymore work as being sympathetic to the father and empathic to POV of the author. Having just rewrote the script i have been working on completely from the characters perspective, it has now jumped to 14 pages long. This is to big to complete in a single trimester as i think i have already stated. But the narration approach is an option, as it will allow me to present the character as being crazy, allowing me the flexibility of showing empathy through dialogue which could be quicker than through action. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Outrospective empathic animation anyone?

Just got in from a shift in my part time job and i've been thinking about this all day. So i watch this video before i went to work, and it hasn't been out of mind since:

So for all its own purpose, its a progressive challenge and offers an indication of the direction of the 21st century. I want to re-apply the context to animation. As you well know i am script writing currently, and the focus of that is learning to write empathy for narratives. Empathy for the writer can be seen as introspection, because the writer has to be the character and understand how they would react to a situation, thus looking inside themselves. The audience can be seen as outrospective because they are understanding, feeling the character and emoting to them. This point is based purely on the Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks storytelling context, where both elements reflect purpose: 

Intro - I have a story i want to tell. (Producer/Director/Writer)
Outro - I want to hear the story you have to tell. (Audience)

But this got me thinking about the Post-Graduate Research day i attended in october/november. The end discussion was centered on the question: Applied Animation: How animation is moving out of its cartoon ghetto and across disciplines. The discussion could be seen (as described by Andy Love) very 'British'. I felt slightly concerned that they felt cartoons (introspection) were in someway beneath the direction animation is moving towards. Are cartoons really that bad? I suspect not. That is why i am now making this statement. Because it's important for British animation to project its purpose with a clearer definition for evolving away from traditional narrative output. 

Now let me make this clear. The writers/producers/directors will always have an introspective drive. An  audience will always have outrospective experience. I can not see this being any other way between teller and listener.

I feel what they mean by moving out of the cartoon ghetto is the purpose of the animation is becoming outrospective. I feel a typical Pixar film is introspective - it's purpose is fundamentally profit with a hearty message. I feel a film such as Waltz with Bashir is outrospective - it is driven to inform about an actual experience that has or could affect us directly. I feel it is this distinction that the talk was aiming at. Remember - Waltz with Bashir still has:

Intro - I have a story i want to tell. (Producer/Director/Writer)
Outro - I want to hear the story you have to tell. (Audience)
and conveys Empathy!

But what Pixar doesn't have that Waltz with Bashir does is an underlying socio-documentative purpose.

I may be wrong. These are just the thoughts i've had today. I will enjoy putting these ideas across tomorrow. I will update with the responses i get.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

This weeks feedback and revised notes.

I will quickly refer back to the last post regarding Marc Craste - in todays discussion I think we ended in agreement that he did mean sympathy, and only because of what i mentioned about the audience caring enough about the narrative to see it through (I know its only 40s but how quickly do you switch off to a toothpaste advert?) Unless i have opportunity to specifically ask Marc Craste i think i will remain uncertain. At the time of writing im thinking about his comments about originally wanting to make a quest involving each sport to retain a different piece of the idol that was stolen at the beginning. Surely that would allow time to place emotive action and that is what has been missed as well as sympathy? (remember the sympathy would be the negative result of the stealing of the idol, and the empathy comes from the characters feelings toward it?) There are no emotive (acting) poses, only action poses. My tutor has previously articulated 3 tiers of learning for animation 

1st = Toolset
2nd = Movement Theory
3rd = Acting Theory

Now, this talk about emotive (Acting) and action poses comes from Tom Brancroft...

So its entirely plausable to suggest what Craste means is that you can push through a quick narrative with dynamic poses/action, the 2nd tier, in a short narrative. Furthermore it is fair to say the cinematography also plays a big role in carrying the narrative. 

Also, i would like to quickly reference back to one of my first posts in october where I talked about the things i didn't like, in particular the DFS advertisement, because i now have the correct terminology to identify the issues with the piece - with the walk to the door established, that is, the dynamic/action, they animator/director has tried to apply the third tier, the storytelling/acting poses, to aid the performance, and has not understood what the characters purpose is other than to display the product. The display pose at the end is the only time he should have his character 'displaying'.

Which leads me back onto my script revision.  There are still issues with the empathy. I think this has come from my focus being centered too much on splitting the POV's of the protagonist and the audience. My supervisor suggested i start by defining his purpose > describe what he FEELS about the situation whilst remembering he is not a hero, he is a tommy, an ordinary solider, so he should have a fight or flight response. He is unsupported, behind enemy lines and needs to respond more to the situation. He suggests one process to identifying these will be to event script, each beat labelled with purpose and objective.

Ed's response was:

Hey Adam -

It is good to hear from you.  I can empathize with the frustrations of revisions.

The set-up is still cryptic to me.  I understand you are doing that on purpose, though, so if that is what you want to achieve, you are on target.  Partly, the problem is that I have no way of knowing what is really going on.  It is dark with mysterious flashes of light splashing around now and then.  Fireworks outside affect me as being just weird.  If I am trapped in some kind of exploded rubble, why are the happy people I hear outside not trying to dig me out?  

It seems to me that you most enjoy playing around with camera angles, lighting, time lapse, editing.  All of that is good stuff, but it needs to be in the service of a workable story.  I suggest you forget about the camera for a minute and look at the story exclusively from a writer's perspective.  As the writer, you do not have any idea what the director and editor will be doing, so stop trying to dictate their jobs to them.  You tell the story, let them direct and edit, okay?  AFTER you have done that, then switch over to the director's perspective.  You've been handed a script with a story about dementia.  How are you going to shoot this?  No fair looking to see what the writer WANTS you to do.  Screw him.  Writers need to learn their place, which is sitting at a keyboard.  Directing is MY job ….  Then, finally, look at the completed footage from the editor's perspective. "God, the director fucked this up.  I will have to fix it in editing.  …."

I still maintain that your audience cannot empathize with the lead character when they are busy trying to get the story un-tangled.

Simplify, my friend, simplify, simplify, simplify.  It takes a great artist to say a lot with a single stroke of the paint brush.


Thanks Ed.

During a crit with peers and supervisors today i realised that the empathy is still missing. I haven't mentioned how the character feels and how his actions/reaction respond as a result specifically. I can see it in my head, but i need to get in out on page, just like you said in your workshop, animators plot out movement but do not explain emotionally why. I will remove the camera shots - most of them were my own mental notes i did not want to forget - i think this is due to the way we're taught, as we generally cover all parts ourselves, in future i shall keep a separate diary of shots that spring to mind. Where i speak about the fireworks/crowd turning into explosions is the director in myself. It is there at the start before we see anything, i wanted to hint to the audience from the off - maybe this is something i should leave off? I will forward the next edit providing your not sick of hearing it by then! 

Thanks again, it really does help.


You are doing a fine job, Adam.  All of this is a learning experience.  Nobody is BORN knowing how to make animations and tell theatrical stories!

I don't know if you need to leave off the fireworks at the beginning because my focus is 100 percent on the man and his story.  All the fireworks do is establish that there is an "outside".  Barking dogs or an ice cream truck would do a similar thing.  The problem with fireworks and explosions is that everybody knows what those sounds are.  You are messing with the audience's mind quite a lot there be telling them, in effect: "What you hear outside is reality." and then, turning back to the man, saying: "Maybe not."  There must be other ways to indicate his mental state.


ituation. He suggests one process to identifying these will be to event script, each beat labelled with purpose and objective.

As Ed says in his last message his focus is the man and i sense the other elements such as the audio elements are distracting to the core story. So I might remove them in the next edit. or maybe just for Ed's version.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Marc Craste - Storytelling in animation

Look at the storyboard and the video for the BBC winter sports advert created by Studio AKA. Marc Craste talks about using brute force actions to drive story:

Brute force

Characters don’t necessarily need to elicit a sympathetic response in order for a story to work. Sometimes they can just drive it along with the brute force of their actions.
For the BBC Sport Winter Olympics, the original script concerned the exploits of an Inuit warrior and his quest to retrieve five stones stolen by an evil bear spirit - the intention being that to find each stone he utilises different skills associated with various winter sports. 
A tight squeeze in 40 seconds, so we decided instead that the hero would utilize all five sports to navigate through the various dangers on his journey to retrieving just the one stolen stone.
Simplifying the story in this fashion gave us the time to focus on what was most important for the client. A particular challenge was that the most popular winter sport had to form the climax of the quest, and the most popular by far turned out to be curling. Not perhaps the first choice for devising an action-packed, dramatic end sequence.
It was from this requirement that we took the thieving bear and placed him deep within a glacier, simply to allow our hero to smash it to pieces with his curling stone.
The first 4 shots of the advert set the terms of the narrative. 
1&2) Man on a hill. Objective in the distance - inside the glacier.
3&4) Man reflects on objective. Bear steals object - sets backstory and context.
Just like Ed Hooks said at animex with regard to Jimme Cricket, by having him at the start of the story we are not shocked or surprised by the revelation mid-way through. It means at the start the audience accepts the terms of they are willing to believe. Referring back to my script i think this is Ed's point in the feedback he's been giving. Because we only find out at the end in my script, he feels the audience will feel cheated, hence why the revision tried to accomodate the terms of narrative progressively for the audience. 
I raised the question with my peers as to whether Marc Craste means empathy rather than sympathy. After thought i don't think he does and i think his terminology is correct. I agree with him that the narrative can work without it, and be driven through action, because his advert for BBC winter sports works. I will refer to 'Action in pursuit of an objective whilst overcoming an obstacle'. The advert has each of these elements and each of these elements are defined in the beginning - Objective = retrieve stolen artefact. Obstacle = environment (distance), bear and glacier. Action = his actions en route to his objective. Now because we have these elements, we can empathise. We can feel into his actions because we know the terms of the relationship. We do not feel sympathy - we do not see the adverse affects caused by the bears actions like we might in a feature length. 

This brings me back to the my own revised script - the character must remain true to his objective, his environment and his terms. That is why he is in pursuit of his wife and not just to get home (as before). If it was to just get home then we have been lied to from the start as the environment was not truthful in the terms of the relationship. No matter where he is, his wife is as she is when we meet her in the narrative. I feel the audience are allowed to be given hints all is not what it seems early on; it allows the director to build curiosity with the audience, whilst allowing the audience to understand the terms of the environment. If the character gets this information too early his actions change because the focus is not his objective, its the strange happenings. That is why the transition starts when he is aware of strange things and thats why his objective is completed with the introduction of the wife. 

Script Revision

I have revised the script since i last received feedback from Ed Hooks and my tutors. Ed was keen for me to outline the mental state of the protagonist at the start, something i have been reluctant to do. This is where the previously mentioned issues arise regarding the class in POV. To negotiate around this i have attempted to separate them by allowing the audience to see much earlier on that all is not what it seems. The protagonist will only find this information out toward the end. This is the first time i have attempted this. All of my previous work has had one POV and that is shared between audience and character. 

The design for the characters performance in this story has changed due to this. This has changed the decision to give him a cast. One of the issues before was the character did not actively show his objective through the action - wanting to get back home to his wife. Before, he was trapped in an enclosed space and we didn't know why. The cast was applied to give the impression that he had been left behind in the early stages of the story. Once the reveal was complete it would become irrelevant anyway. So, in the new version, he is actively pursuing his objective to get back to his wife. (NOTE: in the old version i had confused his objective, i said his objective was to get home.) So to allow him the freedom of movement in a chaotic situation i removed the cast. So here is an example of narrative design informing character design. 

The audio plays a huge part in the progression of the narrative. The audio (that was previously from a TV) is now coming through a radio traffic update. The daffodils were interesting because of the curiosity they gave the character in his situation - in other words from his perspective! But for the revision this was one of the elements that would be solely for the audiences perspective. In order to inform them a conversation about daffs would be counter-productive and confusing. I wanted to give the impression of a time change. I thought about using music but i felt that would give the situation away to easily and would be a really fragile element to get right - an interesting challenge for a sound designer, but a sound designer i am not! I also felt a news story or sports would either work against or for to the extremes too. Since all could be consistant with the timeframe or against it. 

I've place some camera shots/movements in that are for my benefit should i go on to direct it. However, some shots will not work without them specifically. Especially when information is being witheld. Again another implication of building a narrative from two point of views. The script has also evolved from 4 pages to 10. Please read: 

It is pitch black. The sound of a large group of people TALKING can be heard, though talking nothing specific. The sound of FIREWORKS start up and the people can be heard reacting to this positively in GASPS of excitement. The fireworks sound distant and flat. The pitch black environment is now lit by the light of the fireworks, coming from above via a confined opening which only reveals itself through the size and scale of the light. The colour of the light is white. The VOICES fade away but the fireworks continue. 
Another light source enters the scene from the lower left. It is chaotic but investigative in movement. By it's shape we know this to be of a flashlight. It's tone has a yellowish tint. The flashlights light reveals more of the environment as it slowly gets closer. The wall which we are directly facing is around one and half meters away. The ground is much lower and the cover above is within distance to suggest we are almost touching it. The wall has a mud like texture with the occasional wooden vertical beam placed within, but they are more revealed than concealed. They look worn but sturdy. Horizontally the environment is wide and stretches far beyond the current capacity of which we see. We are aware we are in an underground tunnel.
During this time the EXPLOSIONS become less flat and less distant. This is apparent as a few small pieces of rubble fall from above. GUNFIRE can be faintly heard in the distance. Another EXPLOSION can be heard but much louder and closer than anything before. It lands, not directly but close, from above. The light from above over exposes the part scene of which it filters through.
During the fall a CRY from a male is heard amongst the sound of SMASHING glass, metal and rubble as they hit the floor.
As the flashlight's light filters through the rising dust from the right, the silhouette of a body is revealed, before becoming fully exposed once the dust settles. The figure is a mid-20's male. His face is obscured as he is facing away. He is wearing a an unmarked military uniform that is from the 1940's. It could  look like modern casual wear of the over 60's in the year 2013. He is missing the jacket and helmet. His sleeves are rolled up. He has no gun. Amongst the rubble a satchel can be seen. 
ALBERT rises from the ground and is positioned on all fours. He shakes his head before rubbing his eyes. He squeezes his eyes together whilst he looks above. As he recomposes himself he picks up the flashlight and reclines to his knees. He uses the torch to asses his immediate area. Spotting the satchel he picks it up and brings it toward him. He opens it up to check the contents before turning it upside down to see if anything comes out. It is empty. He throws the satchel away. He looks around again. He spots something and pulls it from a location that is concealed to us from behind some rubble. He pulls the object up towards his chest. He releases it outward to view. 
A photograph of a young lady is revealed. The name Molly and the year 1942 can be seen hand written in the corner. It is completely sepia in colour except for the eyelids that are coloured blue. 
Albert folds the photograph and places it in his top pocket. Looking around a final time he spots another piece of paper. He is surprised to find it right beside him. Placing the flashlight between his lips, he opens the piece of paper.
Albert is looking at a map. 
Albert searches the paper before his eyes fix on a point. His eyes change from intent thought to joy. This confirms he has found what he was looking for on the map.
Albert is looking at the symbol of a control/radio signal. 
Albert looks around the tunnel before looking back at the map.
The shot reveals a tunnel drawn on the map that leads to a hatch. The camera turns up to reveal the hole that the external light was filtering through. The camera moves back down to the hatch on the map. It then follows more of the tunnel marks until it reaches a door - the door of the square box that surrounds the radio symbol. The camera stays in position but the map is pulled below and the camera changes focus to reveal the end of the tunnel which has a door. The door has a worn metalic facade which causes it to not stand out too much against the rubble. It consumes the end of the tunnel. It looks heavy and well fortified. 
Albert folds the map. As he does so another EXPLOSION lands near by that causes a small amount of rubble and dust to fall from above. Albert acknowledges this by ducking slightly and looking upwards. He finishes folding the paper and stands up. He removes the flashlight from his mouth and retains it in his hand. He is focused on the door and begins to walk toward it.
I'm coming back home to you Molly. (to himself)
Albert pats his top pocket with his free hand as he says this.
The shot framing cuts to reveal the side of the rubble which was previously concealed. A modern looking smashed up photograph frame is visible in the foreground. Albert carries on walking towards the door in the background. He turns around and looks toward the frame. Though he is out of focus we can still see this action.
It is pitch black. The CLICKING of a turning dial can be heard meeting its destination, stopping for a brief moment before resuming. This happens four times. It sounds like that of a bank/vault safe. After the fourth time a much louder turn can be heard. The latch of the lock hits the metal of the door causing it to briefly RIPPLE through. As the door opens a SQUEAK comes from the hinges. The metal door COLLIDING against the external rubble ECHOS through the environment. This suggests the currently unknown environment is a large enclosure. As the door opens the flashlights beam enters. This briefly bleaches the lens of the camera as the flashlight follows the turn of the door. As the door opens three lights turn on in chronological order. The first light is followed by the second and the second by the third. The first is nearest to the door and the third the furthermost, extending to the far end of the environment. They illuminate the room very dimly. Objects are only just visible. The flashlight is still the primary light source. 
Once inside Albert closes the door. This time it is much quieter and only the SQUEAK of the hinges can be heard. As it fully closes the lock sends a brief RIPPLE across the metal door. 
Albert looks around the room. The room is made of solid but very weathered concrete. It has been disused for a while. The room contains worn tables and chairs, a weapon rack that is empty with exception of a few helmets, a stove, a fireplace, a desk with a crate underneath and a map hanging above. The other end has another door and next to that is a horizontally wide but vertically narrow window. Albert takes special notice of the helmet and the door. Having exhausted every spot in the room with his eyes and flashlight, he goes to the supply crate. Albert pulls the crate from under the table. He opens it up to find a radio.
Albert places the radio onto the desk. He pulls out a microphone and places it just in front of the radio. He then sits down on the chair. He places the flashlight on the table. Albert turns on the radios power button by flicking in downwards. The light on the radio turns on to confirm it is on. STATIC fills the airwaves. The stove behind him lights up from within. The light filters out through the holes in the stove door. Albert is unaware. He presses the microphones receiver. 
Silver One calling Mother Hen, over.
STATIC rings out briefly before the power dies. The light from the stove dies. Albert flicks the power button up and down a few times before concluding that it is dead. The light in the stove responds however. Turning on and off with the power button. Its final resting position is off.
Albert becomes irritated. This is apparent as his body becomes restless as he enters thought. After several times of adjusting himself in the seat he ends in a position facing the map that is pinned on the wall. Albert takes a double look. He looks away briefly as he thinks.
Albert gets out of chair and pulls himself closer to the map. This map is different to the initial map he had in the tunnel. The initial map was a smaller fragmented piece with a very local scale. This new map, left by previous occupiers, is much more regional in scale and offers information over several miles - perhaps 20 or 30 square miles. Albert runs his finger across the map.
Albert walks over to the other door with intent. Looking through a view port in the door, Alberts eyes lock onto something. It is a vehicle. It is an Austin 10HP staff car. It is a similar colour to the uniform worn by Albert. Everything on the car is the same colour with exception of the wheels which are a slight shade darker, and the inner section of the headlights which have reflectors. It is a four-door car. Each of the two front doors has a single white star on it. The vehicle is dirty, covered by mud, partiularly around the base.
Walking back to the desk, he places the flashlight down before studying the map further. The light hits his face from below. He runs his finger across the map again before stopping at a particular point. 
If i can get to this aviation field, i might just be able to fly myself back. No need to wait for a rendezvous from Mother Hen. 
Albert picks up the flashlight and walks over to the weapon rack. He removes a helmet and places it on his head. He walks back over to the desk and rips the map from the wall. Albert walks to the exit.
The power light of the radio flickers on. A brief STATIC noise comes from the speaker.
Hi there folks its me Will Ross with your hourly traffic report. We're looking all clear on the roads tonight except for the M1 southbound between junctions 30 and 31. Only a minor incident but still causing brief delays. Please remember to call in if you stuck so we can put them in our next update. Number to follow. See you in an hour.
Albert is unaware of the speaker. Although out of focus we can see him turn the flash light off and place it in his pocket.
The bunker is made of concrete and it's weathered exterior reflects that of the inside, with the addition of what appears to be bullet holes. It has been built into a hillside that is no taller than 12ft. All greenery has long been remove from the area. It is mud filled much like no mans land, but has a clearly defined area carved through the mud to suggest a parking space for vehicles, and roads leading away to drive. It is still evening. EXPLOSIONS occur from all around though cannot be seen. The explosions light the scene. GUNFIRE and PLANES can be heard from above. The vehicle is some distance away from the bunker. Between them is a stack of crates. There are no more than 2 or 3 in the pile which are no bigger than 5ft high.
Alberts eyes are looking at the action above. He looks very nervous. He is about to lose the protection of the tunnel and bunker as he makes his way to the vehicle. He is aware of this. An EXPLOSION happens nearby to which Albert responds by ducking below the view port briefly. He takes a breath before turning his head slightly as if nervous. He looks above to the sky. He gains composure in posture but his eyes tell a different story. His eyes move focus to about mid-height of the view port.
The EXPLOSIONS, GUNFIRE and AIRCRAFT noise fades out. The CLICKING turn of safe/vault like lock can be heard turning. CLICKING slightly louder every so often to confirm a connection point four times. Alberts eyes are focused on the vehicle throughout. They do not deviate. They are scared and listen to every TICK the lock makes. He knows the code and doesn't need to look. A HEARTBEAT can be heard increasing its beat-rate rapidly. After the final connection on the doors lock CLICKS into place, Alberts eyes close and he takes a breath. All noise is now muted.
The lock on the door is heard as it UNLOCKS. The door opens. Nothing can be seen. It is completely black inside. A WHISTLING noise can be heard, much like a SCREECH. It sounds distant but gets closer. An EXPLOSION can be heard. It lands near by. A RINGING noise consumes the airwaves.
Albert runs from out of the dark. He SCREAMS as he does so. The RINGING blends and turns into Alberts SCREAM. GUNFIRE, AIRCRAFT and EXPLOSION sound can be heard coming from every direction. Albert has entered the heart of a battle happening above. He ends his run by crouching down with his back up against the crates. He is breathing fast and heavily. He is carrying the folded map. His helmet has become misplaced on his head. Turning to look at the vehicle a little to sharply causes the helmet to fall off. The helmet breaks into two pieces down the center.
What the? 
Before Albert has time to put much thought to the broken helmet another EXPLOSION happens nearby causing him to pull back behind the crates. He looks around again at the vehicle. He turns away and take a quick deep breath before running again towards the vehicle, he knows he cannot hang around. He arrives at the vehicle and pulls on the handle of the vehicle door. It is already unlocked. A stroke of luck. He quickly gets into the drivers seat. He places the map onto the seat opposite. He starts looking for something frantically that he cannot find around the dashboard and the floor. He unconsiously pats his pockets. His frantic behaivour slows down completely. He is in shock about something. Reaching into his pocket he pulls out a set of keys. He throws them onto the opposite seat in fear.
Where did they come from? I didn't even...
Albert (Shouts from distance)
Albert turns quickly and starts looking through the windscreen. He can't see anybody. He looks back at the keys. He turns and starts looking out of the other windows. He still fails to see the source of the voice. The vehicles passenger door opens.
Albert, what are you...
Quick get in.
Albert removes the map and keys off the passenger seat. MOLLY gets into the car and sits on the passenger seat closing the door in the process.
Both of their faces are concealed by silhouettes. 
Who are you? What are you doing out hear? Have you seen whats going on? Your lucky im here. Now take this map i need you to count the exits as i pass them. Once we get past twenty... Wait a minute. How did you know my name? 
This is not a map, hunny
Albert looks at the map. He is bewildered, shocked and confused. It is not a map. It is a Jackson Pollack style painting. 
Hunny, it's me. Molly.
Molly blinks slowly. The womans face is still concealed by silhouette. She has the same blue eye shadow as the woman in the photograph he is carrying.
No it... Molly?... but you look so...
Something catches Alberts eye mid-sentence and he is silenced as he is briefly distracted.
Albert finishes his sentence as he touches his face. Albert is no longer in the military vehicle. It's a modern-day family car. He acknowledges this as he continues to rub his face. He looks out the window. He is outside a modern domestic family home. He thinks back. He remembers when he looked back toward the photo frame in the tunnel. It was actually in a hallway. He remembers studying the objects in the bunker. They were actually in his living room. The stove was infact the TV. The table a coffee table. The desk a unit. Above that, the map, was a painting. The weapon rack a diplay case of dishes. He remembers his helmet. Albert looks out of his windscreen, lifting himself slightly off his seat. A dish broken in half now sits in its place. As if to pull into doubt the current realisation. 
No wonder i had the keys.
The keys? Have you seen what you've done to my collection of porcelain dishes!
Molly winks at Albert. They share a laugh before hugging. 
I'm glad your back.
Me too.
Fireworks EXPLODING are passing above.