Making short films is never easy, especially when they grow beyond their original scope. Add to that the necessity of earning money to buy food and computers, I have the situation where I can only push this ‘Apple Crumble!’ short film project in short bursts. However, having plenty of time to think about a project (rather than do) means that I can gain some kind of perspective on the work to date. And so I can see that the film is far too long and that I need to cut and simplify.
Which I have started to do. The story will have just 1 location and just 3 main characters (plus 1 supporting character). It also has a much better title. It is now called…
It’s still about wizards, witches, birds and apples though. Watch this space without holding breath.
‘Apple Crumble!’ cast in a semi 16-bit style. Yes, monkeying with character design is sure easier than script writing, but it does help me to really ‘get into’ the characters.
I like this approach, and I’ve been doing a lot of pixel inspired stuff recently. I certainly don’t think it’ll be easier to animate. The intention is to give a fun aesthetic to the story, and not ape 16-bit pixel perfect animation. Get me?
Ah, well. Should have something to you show you that, you know… moves.
I’m making a short film about a witch’s cat, a wizard and a twerp*. It’s got a working title:
A BIT OF BACK STORY
Once upon a time, there was a man and he made a couple of short films (1). They got shown at festivals and the man planned some new, better films. But then the man got a job in an esteemed animation factory. The years kept turning and it looked like the man would never make another short film. But he did! It was very short (2) and it won a small prize in a great competition (3).
Yes, the ‘man’ is me! You guessed! There followed a ‘phone call from a nice lady at BAFTA offering me support to make another short film, and then a meeting with award winning film producer Michael Rose (4) to discuss the initial outline for the project. Which all comes at an interesting time. I’m really busy with my other projects (game making, illustration) but I’m very lucky to have the structure in place to make another film. I will have to self fund the film, and have a few thoughts how to do that (so if you’re interested in buying some original artwork from the pre-production process, keep ’em peeled). But really, none of this would be happening if it were not for industry organisations and individuals generously giving their time and support. So, a big thank you to Madeleine Probst of Depict! and Niyi Akeju of BAFTA for their role in all this and of course to Michael for giving up his time.
MORE ABOUT APPLE CRUMBLE!
A short animated comedy about 3 characters: A witch’s cat called Elvis, a wizard called Roy and a knight, Sir Perkins. Very little dialogue.
Some short character sketches from my initial outline:
Elvis is a very cute little black cat. She’s so bad that she’s diabolical. Through some kind of evil feline magic mind control Elvis makes Mag Witch do horrible things to nice people. Mag was once a lovely young lady working as a dental receptionist, but ever since she gazed into Elvis’ darling kitten eyes she has been under the cat’s evil spell. Elvis and Mag fly around wreaking havoc and stealing puddings and pies. They particularly like to torment that armoured twerp, Sir Perkins.
On a hill is a small apple tree and a wooden shed. Wizard Roy lives here. He has a beard, a pointy hat and a Staff of Absolute Power. All the things required for the application of magic. Wizard Roy is an all powerful, benevolent magician. He’s respected but people think him cocky. That is due in part to him flying everywhere. Just because he can, doesn’t mean he should. Wizard Roy’s favourite things are apples. He grows his own, eats them everyday and delights in doing tricks with them. It’s worth noting that without his Staff of Absolute Power Wizard Roy is just Roy, an old man who bakes a mean apple crumble.
Oh dear. Poor Sir Perkins, the Queen’s smallest knight. His martial ambitions far outstrip his fighting skills. Vain, aggressive and short, Sir Perkins travels the land in search of dragons monsters to be chastised, respect to be earned, ladies to impress. He rarely finds anything like that, and his adventures usually make him look a fool. People and monsters laugh at him. He is constantly irked by an old rook who for some reason finds him good value. What Sir Perkins really needs is to take himself less seriously, and maybe then he’ll find someone to love him.
I’ll leave it there as regards the characters and the story, as I’d rather let them gtow and change in the telling. The next steps will be to make a storyboard and shoot an animatic. I also need to commission some music.
A SHORT NOTE ABOUT PROCESS AND TOOLS
I’m a compulsive doodler and most of my ideas form while idly drawing in my notebook or on Post-It notes. It’s almost always visuals first with me, followed by a story idea and usually a title. What do you expect from a drawer? I’ll then work up the artwork between notebooks and Adobe Illustrator software, with a view to animate it in Flash. If this film were significantly longer in duration, then I’d be looking at other animation tools for the job, Celaction for example. However, as it’s not going to be longer than 5 or so minutes I’ll stick with Flash and handle any added effects or compositing in After Effects. I have the basic storyline, and the detail will emerge while making the storyboard and animatic. I’m having regular meetings with Michael Rose to discuss the progress. His insight and guidance give this film a reasonable chance to be any good. To be funny.
* a twerp = a vain fool.
© 2011 Tim Frost – http://bullandgate.com
Next: It moves! The making of an animatic.