Friday, 8 February 2013

Unit 3: Online Greenlight Review PT.2


  1. OGR 08/02/2013

    Hey Katy,

    Maybe I'm just a lazy so-and-so, but I was disappointed not to have all your work wrapped up in the same document... and I WAS hoping to see your storyboarding finished and maybe a bit more work around your characters.

    Okay - so, I've just got a few observations/thoughts for your consideration at this final stage before you move into production of your submission materials;

    1) I think you need to consider the actual comic timing of your first scene (which is why I wish you'd boarded it out).

    So, your undertaker character looks young, bored and a bit feckless, not hugely respectful or into his role. I like this about him. I imagine your first scene starting then, by establishing his boredom; perhaps he's slouched in a chair waiting, when we hear someone off screen say 'We've got a new one!' Maybe we cut immediately to the zipped body-bag landing with a thud on the table, the young bored undertaker reaching for the zip. Tarantino often as a shot in his films from the inside of a car boot looking out - the victim's pov - and I can sort of imagine how you could have a shot like this - we see the bodybag being unzipped as if from the pov of a camera inside it, looking up at the undertaker's face - which registers shock and surprise; he says 'What the fuck?' Only we only hear the f of the fuck, because you cut at that precise moment to the bowling alley flashback - the ball leaving the character's hands and thundering down the alleyway - and so it begins. You see, I don't think we even need to SEE the body anymore - not at the beginning; we just need to know that something is 'wrong' with it - after all, we're going to see it at the end. This also means that come the point when the bowling ball comes smashing into the gallery, the audience doesn't really need to see the impact or the consequence of if; we just get all that from the final view of the body on the table the moment we jump back to the present - this is like the punchline to the joke set up by 'wtf?' Again, showing less in this instance is going to make your story that bit more delightful and funny and is going to engage audiences right away because they're going to want to know what's inside the body-bag.

    I think it's really important, Katy that you commit to your act 1/3 now in terms of screen craft and shot construction, because it needs to be entertaining too - and your timing is going to be really important.

    2) Okay - I still don't like the catapult - why? Because I think the whole 'medieval fair' is going to be a confusion for audiences; they're going to wonder where the hell it came from; the explanation of the 'medieval fair' is too much to justify the simple action of the bowling ball being launched into the air; find a catapult equivalent, and do it from within the present day context of your story; make something up, don't confuse your audience.

    3) Your idea about the bowling ball bringing colour to a b/w world... I really like this idea, but you know when I read your script, I don't actually think it IS about the bowling ball's adventure; I don't think we're identifying with it as a character at all - and this isn't a criticism. That's a different sort of story. Your story is something much more knock-about, more anarchic, more 'punk' than Pixar, and I just think you should keep it simple and 'non-metaphoric' in terms of visual style. You just need to know that if you get your timing right, your short film is going to make people 'laugh out loud' - and that's its goal.

    4) You need a better title; something snappy, something funny, maybe a classic one word jobbie - I don't know 'Balls!' or perhaps the word 'ball' shouldn't even be in your title, because it slightly gives your joke away. Maybe something more generalised, such as 'The Runaway' or 'Strike!'

  2. 5) Sound is going to be absolutely essential to the comedy of this short, so don't underestimate the complexity of your sfx; you've got lots to convey - impacts, collisions, screams, cats, breaking glass - not to mention the sound of the ball rolling. You'll need some toonier noises perhaps - the cartoon sound of something falling; and you might want to think about music for accompanying the ball's trail of disaster. It's time to start gathering in SFX and layering them up, Katy - don't delay - it's going to play a big part in the success or otherwise of your animatics and pre-viz.

    6) I know your Act 2 is action-packed, but I want to see some real finesse in terms of your storyboards; the ones you've produced already convey lots of energy and expressiveness, but I'm keen for you to tighten up their draftmanship a bit and really drill into the mechanics of the screen action - also, remember the rules of 'line of action' - as a general rule, you might want to consider always having the same screen direction for your bowling ball; i.e. that it is always travelling from right to left, until that is you have a shot when you SHOW your audience that it has changed direction. Just keep an eye on your line of action and make sure, if you break it, you're doing so wittingly and for filmic effect.

    7) Finally, just keep in mind other issues of design - such as typeface for titles, both in terms of animatics and pre-viz and art ofs. Once you've resolved your title, resolve a brand for your animated short and then extend that brand across everything (just as the Toy Story font is iconic and an important part of the identity of the film). Design everything, Katy - put the whole package together.