Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Process 101: Critiquing A Short film


Since I always encourage people to send me work here is the result of one of these emails. I thought this letter would also give some insight and help others who might find themselves in the same predicament. Enjoy :)


So lets get down to business. (excuse my misspellings and forgetting to CAP my sentences and much much more) Here is a rant of questions I have regarding your short film

       Why is he writing, for who, for what? Does he get what he wants by the end? What does he even want? Why does he not want the skeleton to read the paper, how does he know if its the same paper he was writing on? why does he want to keep the skeleton in the closet, doesn't he want to show off a walking skeleton thats alive?? If it represents something i dont see it whats the relationship between the skeleton and the boy. who's the boy in the photo, he looks like the main character, is the skeleton also writing a story, why are the crumbled papers so important, why does the skeleton go to the door, does magic already exist in this world, why is the boy not freaked out, what does the skeleton want and why? (on a side note, another reason your story is confusing is because you have to hint to all the elements of your story in the beginning. You introduce magic but the story is under way and it came out of no where. It is possible to keep the supernatural part of your story but that I can discuss later if you want)

      So that's a little bit of a rant. They're all rhetorical questions so no need to answer them. But one thing is apparent, your intent and your symbolism is overtaking your story to the point that the story isnt making sense. So this is how I would fix it:

       Lets keep your theme. "Coming out of the closet." ..thats not a theme by the way. The theme is more:"Accepting something about yourself" So EVERY decision I make is going to be based off that sentence. 

       Since by the end of the story the boy has to accept himself ,then to make a full character arc, we shall in the beginning make him not accept something. (original story: you have him being frustrated. thats one reason your story feels like its all over the place. unless you would show at the end of your original animatic that he was overwhelmingly calm)  
        Another thing I want to change is your symbolism.. or.. at least tone it down, One thing to remember is you can not carry a story based on symbolism alone, symbols have to support your story not take front and center. I'm going to keep your symbol of the closet but ditch the literal skeleton. I'm also going to take the magic out of your short. It doesn't need it. So bear with me and read along my version of a story about accepting yourself. I'm changing a lot so dont get scared. But notice how in the beginning our character isn't accepting and through things that happen I force him to change. (change shouldn't come easy it has to be hard, if it was easy then there wouldn't be much of a story to tell bc he would change in the first scene)


-Its a boys 8 yr old birthday. All the cool kids with their flashy clothes are there at his party 
-He gets a jacket as a present, he is embarrassed of it because its ugly.

-First day of school. it's windy outside. He chooses not to wear the jacket and throws it to the back of his closet. He's very cold all day

-Second day of school. It's raining. He looks at his jacket. walks to the closet and reaches for--- a magazine. walks to school and uses it to block the rain. He gets very very soaked and is very cold all day and gets sick

-Third day, ITS SNOWING. He reluctantly takes his jacket from his closet. He arrives at school. He anticipates the kids making fun of him and his jacket bc it's ugly. But they don't even notice his jacket. They tell him to hurry up and join them in a game. 
-alterante ending- he gets to school and is so happy being warm and not wet and cold he doesn't care about being made fun of. he's warm and everybody's fancy jackets don't even come close to keeping them as warm as his does.


       Super simple. lots of opportunity of cool character animation especially when he's making decisions. Sorry about taking out the magic. I really liked it but it's too much trouble for what it's worth. You can still use a skeleton, just put it on his jacket :) See how the symbolism is there? but it's now lowered to a supporting role. :) This is a lot of stuff happening for one story your sanity will lie with how efficiently you story board it. I will do one supper little pass to get you started. 

I wont linger doing unnecessary shots if doesn't add/show new information to the story. 

       I over simplified and of course it looks like a 3 year old story boarded it. BUT it's clear and when you redraw these with cool angles and such, make sure you make your drawings just as clear. are your main story points clear. All the detail you add to your drawings should some second to the story telling elements. Besides, you shouldn't focus to much on story, you want to animate then right? Then get to it. also notice how i re-used some camera shots. YOU ONLY RE-INTRODUCE A SHOT if you have something new to say. the less shots you use, the less confusing your short will be.That is super important. Try to do the same if you are going to change the shots. You can add shots but I wouldn't recommend it. Its already a lot to animate. 

      Your longest shot should be the walk to school! also notice by doing that you are spending the most amount of time on the most important part of the story. Not the end, not the beginning, but the whole part before he gets to school on the last day. Thats his most emotional part (he should be thinking, 'omg what are the other kids going o think of me, omg omg etc) I could of spent more time in the beginning at the birthday party but then I'm going to make it compete for importance with the walk to school on the snow day. REMEMBER, how much time you spend on a moment = how important it is. So DECIDE whats your most important and what isn't important. And use your time accordingly.

I hope this helps!

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