Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Minor Project: Act One Revised Screenplay

As the tone of the animation has shifted dramatically since the original project, I've began to rewrite the screenplay to accommodate this. This is the initial rewrite of Act One, with Acts Two and Three to follow shortly.
A couple of notes about this particular draft; The bulk of interaction is between Franklin and the Delivery Driver, although I've introduced the possibility of both Mother and Father characters. This is to help drive home the feeling of neglect and disfunction from the perspective of Franklin, although this would involve a lot more work for a very, very brief amount of screen time, so I may end up relying on set dressing and other methods of visual storytelling.




ESTABLISHING SHOT: A row of terraced houses. On the horizon, smog rises from the smokestacks of local industry.

A delivery van pulls into frame. Emblazoned on the side is the logo for an animal delivery company.

The van comes to a stop.

A DELIVERY MAN steps out, a box labelled ‘LIVE ANIMAL INSIDE’ under his arm.

He begins to walk along the path, turning through the gate of one house in particular.

The Delivery Man rings the doorbell, turning to look around in disinterested anticipation, gently whistling to himself.

The hefty thud of approaching footsteps can be heard through the door, catching the Delivery Man’s attention.

CUT TO POV of the Delivery Man, looking through the glass window of the front door.

An imposing silhouette gradually fills the space with each accommodating thud.

The door begins to unlock.

Gradually, the door swings open. The Delivery Man is greeted by nothing but a view of the hallway.

PAN DOWN to reveal a young CHILD, about nine-ten years old, peering out hesitantly from behind the front door.

Somewhat confused, the Delivery Man looks past the Child into the house, in search of a more responsible and likely recipient.

After finding nothing, the Delivery Man reluctantly passes a clipboard to the Child. The Child steps out into the doorway.

The Child’s signature reveals his name to be FRANKLIN.

Franklin passes the clipboard back to the Delivery Man.

Cautiously, the Delivery Man passes the box to Franklin, who accepts it with an unsettling expression of vague joy upon his face.

Franklin peers through the holes in the box.

The Delivery Man slowly backs out down the path, Franklin watching him with an expressionless face.

The Delivery Man’s pace increases until he reaches the van.

The van leaves urgently, and Franklin slinks back inside, slowly closing the door behind himself.



The walls and floor are coated in a gaudy floral pattern. A single, yellow light bulb just about manages to illuminate the hall.

Scattered across the floor are the miscellaneous scraps of a typical family. Footwear, broken toys and unopened post.

Family photographs adorn the walls, Franklin curiously absent in most of them.

Franklin begins to make his way down the hallway, stepping over and around all manner of mess scattered across the carpet, occasionally stumbling along the way.

He reaches the stairs, and begins to ascend.

Halfway up, Franklin pauses, looking into the living room through the wooden bannisters.

In the living room is his FATHER, mindlessly watching television.

His MOTHER is stood at the opposite end of the room, gazing out of the window with a cigarette in hand.

Franklin continues to quietly creep up the stairs.


Minor Project: The Childhoods of Serial Killers

The tone and the setting of the story has changed significantly since my original project, and the characters are going to change to reflect this.

The first significant change is the name of the main character, which has gone from Frankie to Franklin. I found the name Frankie to be a little too cutesy, especially now the overall tone has changed. This slight change should help to shift the initial impression of the character.

The most dramatic alteration is the overall perception of the character. The bleak tone of the setting, and my personal desire to create a far more sinister and foreboding build up to the third act, have resulted in the decision to present Franklin as more of a troubled child  than a little terror.

In my tutorial, Phil and I discussed the various visual methods of implying Franklin's desirable upbringing, family photographs where he is absent, mutilated toys, books of unusual interests, among other things. This led me to research into the childhoods of various serial killers, discovering the subtle things in their lives which, in retrospect, revealed things about their unsavoury futures.

Below is a list of the unconventional personality traits and significant life events of particular serial killers throughout their childhoods.

Ed Gein
  • Shy
  • Strange Mannerisms
  • Random Laughter
  • A Domineering Mother
  • Interest in Animal Carcasses
Jeffery Dahmer
  • Interest in Animals
    • Animal Carcasses
    • Insect Specimens
  • Outcasted
  • Largely Uncommunicative Yet Polite
  • Prior Planning to Commit Certain Acts
  • Repressed Homosexual
  • Loner
  • Simulated Cerebral Palsy and Seizures for Attention
Fred West
  • Incestuous Childhood
  • Taught About Beastiality at a Young Age by His Father
  • Attitude of Father "Do What You Want, Just Don't Get Caught Doing It"
  • Childhood Injuries, Seven Day Coma
  • Arrested in Teens on Molestation Charges
  • Sent Away and Disowned by Family
Dennis Nilson
  • Initially Quiet, Yet Adventurous
  • Quiet and Reserved After Death of Grandfather
  • Seldom Participated in Family Activities
  • Actively Repelled Any Affection from Adults
  • Resented Siblings
I plan on using the information gathered above to inspire the initial perceived personality of Franklin, through a combination of his mannerisms, belongings and elements of the environment design.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Minor Project: Homes of 1970s Britain

Homes of 1970's Britain

I've put together a couple of brief influence maps, summarising the general appearance of British homes in the 1970s, both inside and out.
Whilst I'm unlikely to use a living room area in the animation, it provides me with a rough idea of the interior design of the time and sends me in the right direction for areas of the home I end up creating.
I think the next step would be to determine an aesthetic for the second act which contrasts the neutral tone of the setting.

Interiors of 1970s British Homes
Interior design of the time appeared to favour tessellated patterns, feature walls and somewhat mismatched furniture. A strange combination of cosy and tacky.

Exteriors of 1970s British Homes
Building exteriors of the time had a prominent post-war feel, with the architecture staying fairly consistent from the late 1940s up until the late 1970s. Whilst the exteriors above weren't necessarily constructed in the 1970s (with the exception of the block of flats in the top left), they're iconic of the time regardless. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Minor Project: Researching an Aesthetic

Researching an Aesthetic
I began to research the 1970s, specifically popular culture of the time. This led to me looking into various contrasting areas of popular music. Through this research, I stumbled on somewhat of an idea, which plays to the three-act structure of the story, as well as saturating the animation in the iconography of the setting.

Act Specific Style Possibilities
There is a huge contrast of tone between the acts. Because of this, I'm toying with the possibility of using this contrast to reflect particularly aspects of the time period. I've started looking into subcultures of the 1970s, specifically, various genres of pop music of the time. 
I had already had conversations about revealing the main character to be a closet Glam Rock aficionado, so I began to look into what could be considered extremes of the genre, in terms of appearance, as well as what would be the complete opposite.

Act One - Family Bands and Easy Listening

Act Two - Heavy Metal and Punk Rock

Act Three - Glam Rock and Disco

An example of these particular styles applying to the three-act structure would be,

  • Act One - Family Music, The Osmonds, The Carpenters
    • Introduces Frankie as innocent, non-threatening
  • Act Two - Heavy Metal and Punk Rock, Black Sabbath, Ramones
    • Reinforces the impression of Frankie as a twisted, unusual child
  • Act Three - Glam Rock/Disco, David Bowie, T.Rex, The Bee Gees
    • The contrasting reveal is complimented by a contrasting musical and visual style

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Minor Project Proposal: Frankenstylist

Minor Project Proposal: Frankenstylist

The Idea
As mentioned in my last post, I've chosen to revisit my Storytelling project from Year One, named Frankenstylist. The original project was fairly well received, with several viewers, including myself, expressing an interest in seeing this become a fully developed animated short. As a result of this feedback, I intend to expand upon past ideas and pre-production elements, with the outcome being a fully realised animated short. Below are the original project screenplay, Making Of document, animatic and pre-vis from the original project, to give you an idea of what I will be working from.

The Plan
I plan to expand upon the various existing pre-production elements, improving upon the script, adjusting the cinematography and visual storytelling found in the storyboards and generating a revised series of pre-production materials, suitable to be taken into a successful production phase.
As well as the above elements, I am also going to revise the design of the main character, Frankie, as well as the environments, drawing from specific influences (which shall be discussed later on in this post).
The final outcome of all this will be a 2-4 minute animated short, similar in essence to the original project, but refreshed and new in its own right.

Potential Influences
Setting and Period
In my last post, I assembled a generalised list of the particular genres of horror cinema associated with specific time periods. After further research and discussions with Phil, I've decided to set the animation in Britain, around the late 1960s, early 1970s. I've not yet decided on a specific locale from which to draw influence and emulate, although Phil has suggested setting it in an industrious town, where the machismo personalities of the locals contrasts with the flamboyant hobbies of the main character.

Being that the animation will be taking part throughout the 1970s, I've been looking into aspects of popular culture were either produced in that decade or emulate the themes of the decade. Strong areas of influence at this stage include:
The League of Gentlemen
A dark comedy written and starring Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton about a fictional English town inhabited by a number of unusual locals, including stationary obsessed Job Centre Restart Officer, a butcher specialising in the underground sale of special stuff and the owners of the Local Shop (for local people).

Scarfolk Council
A blog documenting the history of the fictional town of Scarfolk, a town perpetually stuck in the 1970s. It features hundreds of artefacts of the obscure happenings in the town, including the hit book Pagan Paediatrics and Postnatal Possession and the town-wide baby ban from the Scarfolk Council Department of Baby Prevention.

In terms of parodying horror, I'm heading towards somewhat of an amalgamation between rural horror for the build up through the first act, then sensory exploitative horror of Suspiria throughout the second, both staple horror themes in the 1970s. Both styles are very appealing, as they're not often pastiched, although the vivid Argento style may look somewhat misplaced next to the bright colours of act three. The muted colour palette of the rural horror may be better suited because of this.

Glam Rock
For the third act, being that it is of the era, Phil suggested revealing the child to be a fan of Glam Rock and David Bowie, with his various animal clients sporting the mullets and back-combed hairstyles of the time. Originally, the hairstyles were very 1950s/60s inspired, although the style would be somewhat irrelevant if the animation is set ten years later. The Glam Rock is a fitting alternative from which a similar level of humour could be achieved. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Minor Project: Revisiting Frankenstylist

Revisiting Frankenstylist

 After discussing project possibilities with Phil, its looking as though I shall be revisiting Frankenstylist, an idea I had first developed for my Storytelling project in Year One.
The main appeal of returning to this project is the already fairly established story, giving me more the opportunity to focus on character development, visual storytelling and cinematography, of which I didn't really expand upon in the initial pre-visualisation.

 So, for those of you don't have a clue what Frankenstylist is, here is a brief summary (the full Storytelling project can be found here.)

 On a quiet street, in a sleepy suburb, there is a house not like the others. In this house lives Frankie, a child known not for his popularity, nor his mischievousness, but for his unusual hobbies. Every Thursday, a postal van is seen delivering a single box to the house. A box with air holes and a bright 'Live Animal Inside' label. Rumours among the local schoolchildren seem to suggest Frankie has somewhat sadistic tendencies, although the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, the animals often leave happier than they arrived, their self esteem lifted after receiving a makeover many humans could only dream of. 

 The general gimmick of the story is the heavily implied horror, leading up to the comedic and light-hearted reveal in the third act. The use of distorted shadows and silhouettes, events happening just out of frame and other common methods of misdirection, assist in convincing the audience of Frankie's sadistic past times, with the third act revealing the reality; that Frankie is a flamboyant amateur beautician, with the common hamster acting as his muse.

Stylistic Possibilities
 After talking with both Phil and Alan, its clear that in order to execute this successfully, the animation needs to play up to specific themes, of both the genre's it is parodying and the era/setting in which it is taking place. With this being the case, there are several possibilities when a specific period and setting are selected, for example,
  • 1950's - British, Hammer Horror, Gothic Horror
  • 1960's - American, The Twilight Zone, Televisual Science-Fiction Horror
  • 1970's - American, David Cronenberg, Body Horror
  • 1970's - British, Robin Hardy, Rural Horror
  • 1970's - Italian, Dario Argento, Sensory Exploitation
  • 1980's - American, Sam Raimi, B-Movie Horror
  • 1990's - American, Wes Craven, Slasher Horror
  • 2000's - American, Eli Roth, 'Torture Porn' Horror
 Whichever of these periods I decide on, it should reflect the prominent genre of Horror movies during that era. This will hopefully add to the humour, as well as cementing the animation in the chosen era.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Minor Project 2014: New Beginnings and Project Ideas

New Beginnings, Project Ideas and Inspiration

After a year long hiatus, its about time I got back into the swing of things. Since January, I've been gradually accumulating thoughts and ideas for potential projects, some more fleshed out than others. This post is an brief compilation of those ideas. Some of these options are simple flickers of thought, others have been elaborated upon somewhat more so. In short, its a sort of spewing-up of nine months worth of unusual mental impulses. I'll go into more detail as to which ideas I'm considering adopting and developing into potential projects in a follow up post soon.

- Frankenstylist
  For my Storytelling project in Year One, I created the story of a child who took household animals, and experimented upon them. By which I mean, he gave them all makeovers. I found this idea in its very, very basic state quite charming, and with a bit of script and style restructuring, I think it could work out quite nicely. I'd possibly take it in a slightly different direction, instead of it being Gothic Horror inspired, I would give it a bit of a Twilight Zone spin in terms of setting and style.

- Innerspace Adventures Through the Human Body
  Another project from Year One, this time for Commission. The animation demonstrated the role of the White Blood Cell in the event of Bacteria being present in the bloodstream, presented in the style of Jetsons-style cartoons of the 1950's and 60's. The short was established as if it were a single episode in a series of educational shorts, and I'm curious as to where I could take the 'series' if I were to revisit it. Different areas of the body being different worlds, potentially taking on an alternative style, for instance.

Miscellaneous, Undeveloped Thoughts
- Incongruity and Impracticality: People in places and scenarios which are ultimately impractical or unusual. For example, an astronaut attempting to perform fine tasks such as sewing, in a uniform horrendously impractical. These would be staged as a series of rendered stills, featuring one or two characters in a corresponding environment.

An animation where a comedy writer is struggling to come up with ideas, resorting to combining the rhyming names of two famous individuals to create a strange outcome, e.g. Stoppard and Stobart (a grind house style film about a freight company that delivers babies), Dyson and Tyson (a Back to the Future style riff where James Dyson engineers robotic boxing gloves for Mike Tyson).

- Set design for a classic, Cold War-era environment, dressed with propaganda and precautions put in place to accommodate modern threats, for example, posters in a school featuring an animal mascot instructing students on what to do in the event of a terrorist attack (swapping out 'The Green Cross Code' and 'Stop, Drop and Roll' for more sinister, yet realistic contemporary issues).

- A group of children discover the reality behind the warning, "don't stare at bright lights", that the 'floaters' you seen in your eyes are small tears in the fabric separating our world from an alternate one.

- An exploration of the sensation of 'fabricated nostalgia'; the feeling of nostalgia you get for time periods, places and events of which you were not a around to be a part of.

A world in which the questionable products in comic book advertisements are a reality. For example, a child orders a pair of x-ray specs, to find they work exactly as advertised, whilst the adults around him are sceptical.

- Investing the theories of Phrenology. For example, multiple character designs based on particular areas of head. Alternatively, a singular character with a series of personalities based on phrenological observations.

- A clown so dedicated to his various contrasting roles, becomes so engrossed in his various performances and alter egos that he loses track of which one is his original self.

- Anachronisms: Characters from an older time period acting as if they were part of a totally unrelated period. e.g. Victorian era characters acting as though they were in a 1980s John Hughes style movie

Random Word Exercises
Similar to the Storytelling project, I took three randomly generated words and wrote down the first premise that came to mind.

- Chameleon, Calculator, Garden
     An anthropomorphic chameleon with a degree in mathematics, after years of research, develops a formula for designing the perfect garden

- Junk, Internet, Dentist
     A dentist discovers that by using everyday junk and household items, you can successfully connect to and browse the Internet using your teeth

- Joke, Engineer, Wig
     An engineer invents a wig that instantly makes you the funniest person in the room, and not just because you look stupid

- Antique, Teddy Bear, Tennis  
     A tennis player relies on an antique tennis racket with unusual powers as a means of winning the most treasured prize of all; a one of a kind teddy bear

- Gutter, Radiator, Legs
     A paraplegic man living in the gutter reinvents himself by creating a set of one-of-a-kind, steam-powered legs out of some plumbing hardware and an old radiator

- Iceberg, Danger, Migraine
     A passenger aboard the Titanic falls ill with a migraine, until he discovers it isn’t a migraine at all. Through the aura of pain, he sees the impending danger of everybody on board and attempts to subvert history by steering the ship clear of the iceberg

- Hospital, Kidney, Critic
     In an attempt to to generate more organ donors, a hospital begins to broadcast a reality show where recent transplant patients rate and review the quality of their newly acquired organs and appendages, with all the unpleasantness of the average episode of ‘Come Dine with Me’

- Prison, Madman, Trumpet
     A newly convicted madman forms a brass band with his fellow inmates, travelling around town as a proposed form of community service, and not at as an obscure escape attempt. Honest.

Inspiring Imagery
I find quirky, unusual photographs particularly inspiring. They tend to tell a different story, depending on the person viewing them. This a small selection of photographs that I've not been able to keep out of my mind, for all sorts of reasons, with elements I could extract for use in my upcoming project.

This image shows a group of women boxing on a rooftop in the 1930s. The reality of the image is, they're actresses rehearsing a sketch at Paramount Studios. I love the relaxed attitude of the setting, paired with the unladylike (for the time) actions of the women. It drums up ideas of a 1930s, all-female Fight Club. The woman throwing the punch is a perfect character design in herself. Tallulah meets Million Dollar Baby.

This is the break room at Disneyland at some point in the 1950s. I just love the idea of these people having to inhabit two lives on one shift. The fact that the astronaut and Goofy refuse to remove their headgear shows real dedication! Its like the Disney equivalent of Mos Eisley Cantina.

This an IBM Datacentre in 1963. I just love the colour and composition of this scene. It looks as though its been plucked straight from 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the minimalist arrangement and data spools at the back of the room really selling the sci-fi impression of the place.

I love these images as they depict woman contributing to the war effort in very contrasting ways. The group of woman above are hand illustrating propaganda, whilst the woman below are taking lessons in rifle handling, should they need it. The images tell the same story from completely different perspectives, not to mention that these aren't the sort of images you expect to see when thinking of the war.

This is a strange one for a number of reasons. At first glance, you think its wartime as the child is holding a gun, until you look past the television and see a car park full of undamaged cars and pristine buildings. The television is a bit too contemporary for that sort of period, also. Which implies that it is probably the late 50's, early 60's and the calm surroundings imply that the child isn't protecting itself, but playing, with the gun actually being a toy. 

This image is quite striking as it combines two alternate eras of combat, with a soldier of the early 1900s brandishing a pike on horseback. Whether this was staged or actually a genuine method of combat, I don't know, but it does provide an interesting image.