I was going to start by quoting the first line from the song Gravity by Embrace but I've changed my mind. I'll just listen to it instead. However it still applies without the opening word 'honey' of course.
'Vampire' and 'Book' are two short animation scripts that were begun on Dec 2007 and June 2007 respectively, and yesterday were extremely close to being once and for all, finished. The first, I think is as good as it's ever going to be, and the second extremely close and depends on further feedback and time.
What's interesting is that both scripts on every revision and rewrite over the last year were considered final. At the start they both were initially eight pages, which I soon found out was far too long for an animated short. But with some more time away, time to review and feedback from others, another rewrite always came about; improvements were made, precious page time was reduced and the story was tighter. They are both now four pages long, which still may be too long for some shorts but I think is the right length for these stories.
The final polish was unplanned and was a spur of the moment thing while I was about to email them to someone. As I read the attachment labels, I thought 'I'll give them a read to see how they're doing' and then found after one improvement, others came and the email was held up for awhile.
With 'Vampire' it was the vampire himself who's character and development was improved and ultimately, nailed. I never realised before that his actions and reactions weren't in character, they were just typical generic reactions. But now they follow a process of development, which for an animated character may sound strange, but is needed and it works so much better. Before, his first reaction in the script was a big one. And then they were smaller and returned to being big. There was no gradual development into the big reaction and change in the character. So it was nice after all this time to realise that I had been playing some of his reactions the wrong way. They were all there but just not in the right order. The weird thing is it stood out like a sore thumb whereas before it seemed perfect. The vampire feels like a real person now and feels like the icing on the cake.
'Book' had the most dramatic change to it and had almost a page wiped out from it. This was a large portion of the opening; that I knew beforehand and an animator had said to me, was a weak area and if it didn't contribute to the overall story, then it should go. But i just couldn't bare to lose it as I loved it too much. It did add to the story as it added to the persona of the mysterious owner of the house/estate, but it was more small jokes/set ups, that really didn't advance things to much, they just made the reveal more fancy and developed. But it survived intact without those. And so I killed that little gem opening page and reworked the essential scene from all that, that leads into the predicament of the story.
It's strange that a four page animation, admittedly casually, has taken a year to get to a comfortable point of completion. The last rewrites six months ago, for me were complete and done, and i was happy. But this time 'Vampire' in particular feels like it has reached its peak destination and I couldn't be happier.
I noted in an earlier post, that a lecturer, Jan Weddup suggested before that I should offer to write for the BU animators. He gave me the nudge to start thinking in terms of short animations for possible producing. It took six months for it to work its way to action, but ended up kicking off an exciting and unexplored territory, that at first, I didn't think existed in my capacity and I wasn't worthy to tread.
The main thing I've learnt on writing animations; is the importance of screen time and detail, and the extreme compression of the two in order to deliver a satisfying pace and enriched story. That has certainly informed my writing in general as well as that learnt on character and other areas.
It's something I recommend that everyone should try because, if nothing else, it's great fun and a great way to escape.
Cheers Jan for the nudge.
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