And just like that, it’s 25 to 31 October 2015. I’m typing this from Changi Airport sitting on the most messed-up airport carpet in the universe while my laptop screen glitches out from being dropped onto said carpet. I’ve got just over seven hours left to go until I’m back home and 1 ½ hours until I board for the final leg, so this entry is a bit wordy. 🙂
So. Amsterdam. Well, the rest of Amsterdam. In the context of making movies, of course.
Blender Conference and pitching in the sun
I pitched “A moment in the sun” again to Andy Goralczyk on Sunday and got some more notes which reinforced what Beorn said. The intro changed slightly from before and Andy didn’t note it quite as much as Beorn did. He did say the relationship between Pointy and Gronky wasn’t super-clear. Something to work on.
The Blender Conference continued through to Sunday but unofficially there is still one more day of convening to do – the Blender Institute Open Day. No talks, no presentations, just hanging out until people leave. The time to relax and chat coupled with the day-long series of goodbyes makes it a thoroughly bittersweet occasion.
During the Open Day I pitched the movie to Blender Institute animator Hjalti Hjalmarsson and BI director/all-rounder Pablo Vazquez. Beorn was also there to give advice again – the pitch was changing subtly every time I did it. Possibly also the play-acting was getting better. The intro now contained a sequence where Gronky helps a little insect past an obstacle only to get bitten for his trouble. Sort of a microcosm of Gronky’s relationship to everything.
Hjalti and Beorn had really good feedback. I showed Hjalti the “Pointy the Entrepreneur” version and both Hjalti and Beorn said that idea was easily funny enough to work as a short film. For a few minutes I thought I might even just dump the slapstick version I’ve been developing altogether. In the end, I decided not to. I considered it long enough to get a certain RubiconPaul all intrigued about this blogpost before I said goodbye to him but sorry Paul, it’s not the bombshell I promised. 🙂
Pablo liked the film and said my self-discipline was inspiring considering how long I’d stuck with it. What seemed to attract the most attention were the story planning sketches I was doing in my notebook. People really liked the look of the characters and my cartooning in general, and even the animation test from last year with Gronky stomping around happily made people smile.
And then just like that it was all over. I was back to being yet another tourist in Amsterdam. I went to Amsterdam’s zoo, then I went to another zoo in another country on a half-day trip. I continued to jot down gags.
I finally nailed the relationship problem by using the old trick of switching motivation from one character to another. And then figuring out why they have that motivation. And then figuring out how to express that motivation. And finaly I got my streamlined story. It was even a proper Eureka moment because it happened in the bath. The characters have morphed slightly again and one of the more troublesome comedic causes and effects – Pointy’s voice being concussively horrible and Gronky having incredibly good hearing – is now consigned to the discard pile. Probably for the best because Pointy’s voice was also kind of annoying for the audience.
With that I tihnk I can finally say that the end of the development phase is in sight. I can even start doing single-shot tests and create an updated teaser with the material I’ve got.
What surprised me a bit was that normally I’m shy as hell, but the pitches often turned physical. If I hadn’t drawn something yet, I play-acted it. Either I trusted these guys and any onlookers enough to make an arse out of myself, or getting the film right took me totally past my fear of embarrassment to just get it right. I believe in the story that much, maybe? But I am really getting into this whole film making lark as a craft. I like myself better when I’m making cartoons, for sure.
Klik! Animation Festival and more animated features
On Thursday I dropped in to check out Klik! Animation Festival up at the EYE film museum. Instead of applauding, you get a little clicker and when the film finishes the cinema sounds like an army of cicadas. Also people click in time to the leader. Or shyly between screenings. Or, in the case of Unhappy Happy, which seemed to be created specifically to mess with festival audiences, at random intervals. There was even a Blender film, “9, Chemins de Gauchoirs”, about a shepherd who stumbles on a very strange ski lift. What was particularly educational was how Don Hertzfeldt’s World Of Tomorrow played in front of a Dutch audience. The MIAF audience was much more enthusiastic. Not to say the Dutch folks didn’t laugh at anything, but it tended to be the entertainingly cruel comedic stylings of their own country.
Speaking of cartoons, I’ve caught a couple of feature animations on the trip back: Asterix and the Mansions of the Gods was awesome and I need a hi-def copy of it as soon as I can get my hands on one. The poppy French animation style and excellent renderings of the Asterix characters and world were fantastic. I watched it in French so I don’t know how the English dub sounds.
Speaking of French animation, I watched Minions straight afterwards. That was not too shabby. I think Pierre Coffin deserves more credit for his voice work on the Minions though – depending on how many languages you know there’s a ton of bilingual bonuses in there. 🙂
Finally, I saw a Western Australian film called Paper Planes. It’s nto animated but it was fantastic. My sister was a stills photographer on it and nagged me to go and see it when it was on atht the movies, but I think seeing and hearing my home country was just the ticket on this trip home. What really surprised me was how great it is – Inside Out didn’t make me cry (not even that bit with Bing Bong) but the answering machine scene in Paper Planes put tears on my cheeks before I realised they were even there. It is one of the most touching and beautiful bits of cinema I’ve seen in ages and "ages” definitely includes Chaplin’s City Lights. Occasional dodgy CGI aside, Paper Planes is an underdog boy’s story definitely worth a look.
That’s about it for now. I’ve got another week until I have to be back at work. I suspect I shall be a busy little bee during that time now that the way is all but cleared for pre-production. See you again soon!