Tuesday, 25 October 2011

First Storyboard Draft + Script + Feedback

  The first thing I did once I had received the feedback on my initial rough storyboard stills, was to finish a film script! At this stage, I realised that the script would still need a lot of alterations, and so would the storyboard, but I thought it was best to start, "to get the ball rolling", so to speak.

  I had changed my ideas from the previous script, so had new ones to write down and work at. Once I had the general moments I wanted, I started to draw the shots on wide post-it notes which I stuck on large pieces of paper. As I began to draw, the script fleshed out with every shot, and more story ideas came. After a day and a half of storyboarding, I had finished the first draft. Even as I finished it, already there were parts I was picking out that I didn't like; be it for story, composition, or any other reason. However, I wanted to keep it as I had written in the newest script so that when I had another feedback session I could really dive into parts I wanted to change as well as have my tutor and friends' opinions help shape new ideas and directions I could take.

So here is the first drafted storyboard:

And here is the script I wrote for this storyboard. Note that the script is much shorter compared to the first act of the script I wrote in the previous post. I wanted to get the main points down quickly and clearly, so felt I needed to focus on the actions more than the detailed descriptions at this point. Only once I've really got a solid direction for my story structure will I then re-write the script in a more detailed way.

In the school library. Mollie is looking out the window watching the kids running around and playing. She looks upset, lonely. She could be wearing her coat (as it is break-time).


Mollie turns around in surprise. The school librarian is there looking annoyed. She gestures for Mollie to go outside. Mollie walks past her and out the door.

A box full of tied up skipping ropes is placed into the shot. Hands grab the ropes quickly until only one is left. Mollie walks up to the box and picks the last one up and looks at the children skipping. She then looks down at the skipping rope in her hand and starts to skip, slowly, feeling embarrassed. As she does, she begins to speed up, until she trips and falls onto her knees. Mollie, ashamed, stands up quickly and runs off with the rope away from the playground.

Once she’s safely away from everyone, she starts to skip again along a path. As she nears the bench by the pond, she trips again and holds onto the bench for support. Angered and upset she throws the rope down and sits down on the bench and begins to cry. When she finishes sobbing she looks up, and wipes her tears from her face. Blurrily, she looks up. There is something big in her vision, though unclear. Mollie frowns and blinks more. A large white rabbit is sitting at the edge of the pond, lapping water. Mollie is surprised and scared, but curious. As she watches, the rabbit looks up and glances at Mollie. It’s ears flick, he blinks and his nose is twitching. Mollie turns her head, left and right, but noone is around. When she looks back at the rabbit, he starts to hop over gently. Mollie reels slightly into the bench, but remains inquisitive. When the rabbit stops, he is at Mollie’s feet. He rests his large head on Mollie’s lap, and continues to twitch his nose, and blink. Mollie breathes in and out, and relaxes with the rabbit’s calm and peaceful nature. She leans forward and strokes his nose. The rabbit closes his eyes in content. Mollie then leans further into the rabbit’s face, and hugs him. She has a quiet, lonely and forlorn look on her face, but the hug is reassuring her a lot. She continues to stroke him and the camera pans up and dissolves to show a day transition. 

A shot of the sky, morning. Birds fly past, flutter of wings and song. The sound of talking, children laughing and chattering starts, and we see Mollie at the end of a line, lining up for morning registration outside on the playground. She is on her own again, speaking to noone as they are all talking to the person next to them. Mollie’s head is down and she shifts awkwardly looking at her shoes. She glances to the (left) and looks across the playground. Her eyes widen, as she sees the large white rabbit again. Her face lightens, and she smiles shyly, giving a little wave, before she is ushered into the classroom. (Babbit gets a little smaller…not noticed much by the audience) Babbit watches and then continues to nibble at the grass. Birds flutter in a tree next to him, and go stand next to babbit, curious.

The bell rings, and Mollie runs outside and goes immediately to the pond and bench again. Babbit is there and Mollie smiles, patting him on the nose. The skipping rope is still there from the day before. Babbit reveals it and picks it up to give to Mollie. She looks anxiously at it and shakes her head looking down. Babbit urges Mollie to hold one end, so she does. Babbit stands back, with the other handle of the rope in his mouth and starts to swing it. Mollie joins in with the swinging and realises that Babbit wants Mollie to jump in. Mollie bites her lip, frowns and jumps in. She does it! And now she is skipping gleefully with babbit by her side. Babbit is happy. (babbit shrinks again….) Mollie notices Babbit’s height in the first “montage” scenario and looks confused. Babbit looks down at himself for a moment, but when he looks at Mollie happily, she doesn’t worry about it…Maybe as Babbit gets smaller, Mollie does worry, but Babbit continues to comfort her, being happy, so gradually, Mollie begins to accept that Babbit is changing and still being happy, and that means she can change and grow and be happy too.

Now there is a montage of lots of things showing Babbit helping Mollie. Hopscotch..Yo-yo-ing..Superhero.. Helping mollie tie her shoelaces could be a running theme..
Scene ideas: Mollie and Babbit eating lunch together..Mollie getting more confident and tickling him..

Then Mollie and Babbit are playing tag..As Mollie runs, she and Babbit both bound towards the playground. Mollie picks up speed and overtakes Babbit, running ahead. She smiles looking out onto the playground. She is bright and cheerful and knows she can be confident now. She looks around for Babbit, and doesn’t see him at first. She spots him sitting on the edge of the playground staring at something intently. Mollie turns to look in the direction of Babbit’s stare, and sees a younger boy sitting on a bench on his own, looking very sad. Mollie realises something and starts to walk towards Babbit. When she’s beside him, she kneels down and picks him up, lovingly. They look at each other, and Babbit looks once again at the boy. Mollie smiles and hugs Babbit and puts him back on the ground. She look one more time at Babbit, then turns and runs onto the playground again. The camera stays still as Mollie runs out of shot. Then slowly the camera will turn towards the bench. And there is Babbit, big again, beside the boy. The boy dries his eyes and puts his hand out to Babbit and strokes him softly. Babbit closes his eyes, and the boy rests his head on Babbit’s. 

The End.

Lecture and Feedback Seminar - 24/10/11

In the lecture today with Caroline we watched Michael Dudok de Wit's beautiful short animated film, "Father and Daughter". The lecture was aimed at trying to help all of us think a lot about interesting composition and pacing and shot construction for our films. We watched the film twice, so to analyze it thoroughly. It is a truly stunning piece, and I was really inspired to try and develop my own film with better shot construction, better pacing, more subtle and expressive animation as well as poignant and strong backgrounds and characters.

'Father and Daughter' - Michael Dudok de Wit

Today I received feedback from my friend, Bry, as well as my tutor, James.

Feedback from Bry:
-Babbit needs to be seen helping Mollie tie her shoelaces at their first meeting.  In the first draft, Mollie is seen to have untied shoes throughout the film, as I decided I wanted to keep this a theme and a metaphor of Mollie "growing up". Bry noted that there was no evidence of Babbit helping Mollie with this towards the start of the storyboard, and there needed to be if the audience were to understand that Mollie needed Babbit to help her at the beginning.
-Mollie needs to be seen interacting with the other children otherwise the audience won't understand why she is shy/unconfident/sad etc. This is something I really want to develop. I think it could make soemthing quite subtle but poignant if done cleverly. It needs to read clearly, the audience need to understand that Mollie is unconfident and shy amongst her classmates and the consequence of that.
- The first part of the storyboard needs more shots of Mollie in a big/lonely environment. The start of the film needs to show more depth and setting. I need to do some shots showing how big the world is compared to Mollie which would overwhelm her at first, but towards the middle/end, become something calming and pleasant.

Feedback from James:
- The story needs more structure and meaning. There needs to be 3 defined "moments" to the story. The first moment being the "crisis", ie: Mollie in the worst situation possible to make her upset. Then Babbit helping her through the next two "moments" until she feels confident and content again. At the moment my story has little parts/moments that are better than others. I just need to work out a proper structure and meaning, looking even more into the emotive thoughts and subtle acting/shot construction/expression I can use to portray certain scenes. The last "moment" must be dramatic to give the conflict right at the end.
- The start of the film could show Mollie in the school classroom (at break-time when she's supposed to be outside) feeding the class rabbit, possibly with a name-tag which says "Babbit" on it. I really liked this idea. This way, there is a "real" Babbit the audience can relate to immediately, and then there is the process of having the audience trying to work out whether the large rabbit who will appear is actually the class Babbit or just Mollies' Babbit. It could create a nice dynamic right at the start.
- Babbit could disappear/turn invisible when Mollie is not with him...? A suggestion from James that I will have to ponder. I can see how this could work, but I need to really sit down and work out more story ideas to fully try and potentially incorporate this idea into the script.
- As well as this, James then suggested I try and draw up a "Character Diamond" personality test for my character, Mollie. It is a device used by various people when defining a character's characteristics.
At one end of the diamond you note the character's Strengths, and the opposite end, you note their true feelings, and what they would liked to achieve. The other two ends are opposites too. One end you note the character's 'supporting trait" and the other, their 'fatal flaw'. As shown in an example diagram below:

I will draw up a character diamond in the next post...

Overall I was happy with the feedback session today. Even though I have to go back and change a lot, I feel that the story is going to move in a better direction because of it. I really want to explore the emotive and visually simple but expressive side of story-telling in animation. I want to really experiemnt a lot more with shots and simply telling thoughts and actions in a visually effective and engaging way. I want the audince to understand what is happening clearly, and I want them to empathize and care for Mollie and Babbit.

Back to the drawing board it is!!


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