Tag Archives: preliminary outlining

Concept Art !!!!!!!!11!!

So, I met with the pretty great Nick Pflug a few weeks ago for some concept art.  He also tumblrs (tumbles?).  Although he’s an animator by trade, I asked for some stills, and being the boss he is, he made some.  I also once played Netrunner at his house for like, 7 hours.

Before you can feast your eyes on the epic amazing that is our (*squeeeee*) art, I’d like to try and keep my inner fangirl on a leash and go into why I asked for art in the first place.  Consider this stage 1 of actually trying to turn this script into something.

First, there is something rather apparent about content that goes viral on the Internet– it’s short.  It needs to grab you in less than thirty seconds and keep you entertained for no more than five minutes.  This is not a place for 100+ page scripts.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, one of several dreams we have for this project is that maybe we can eventually release a short trailer or an animatic or something– if we’re really lucky, we can have it showcase a song, which is why I’ve asked a composer and another animator to help out.  (if you’re a regular reader, you’ve met them before) We’ll let the result out into the wilds of the Internet.

So, without further ado, I’m gonna slowly let my inner fangir– OMG you guys!  We have art! And it’s just the best!  LOOKIT.  LOOK AT IT.  THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE.  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

1 - Copy 2 - Copy

So, this here are our concept sketches of Luna.  They’re pretty great.  Obviously, Luna’s design is fluid, but there are some cool standouts here– I’m a pretty huge fan of her eyes, which sounds creepy when you say it about a concept sketch.  The ballet inspired shoes are pretty neat too.

There are surprising details that I didn’t think about while writing– Luna has short hair.  Not that her hair length changes any particular part of the script, but it is part of her that I never really considered.

ON TO MORE ART, BECAUSE YAY.

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These are our Ivan sketches.  It’s amazing to see his robotic arm finally realized in an actual sketch, considering that part of the finale has Ivan using his arm creatively.  He kinda reminds me of Hans Solo, and I still can’t write him, but at least I know what he looks like when I read Shannon’s writing of him.

All in all, this was one of the greatest Skype calls ever.

 

The Ill-fated Inability To Tell Time

This post was actually going to be about how I tragically pushed two posts out last week, so I wouldn’t have to throw out a substantial post this week, before I realized that wasn’t the case.

Just because two posts weren’t 7 days apart doesn’t mean I missed a week, because my posting schedule falls somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and The Three Caballeros on the regularity scale.

So, I still can’t tell time, but I also can’t use it as an excuse.  Son of a–

headdesk-demotivational-poster-1252553095

Regardless, I do have some blog post ideas, but they need to sit on the back burner for another week before they’re in post-able state.  All of them have to deal with romance, and let me say this right now:
Romance is really hard, you guys.  But, I kinda think The Princess and the Frog nailed it, and I need to rewatch that movie (maybe with a live tweet?  See more at the bottom of this post).

Also, we’re still making progress, although not much writing has been happening.  The Google Drive Crash Beast has been tamed (or at least circumvented), so that should pick up on my end.  The project now has its first concept sketch to it’s name.  I saw it for the first time last week, AND I’M STILL SUPER EXCITED.

I have a sketch of Luna and it’s just the bestest.  I don’t even care that ‘bestest’ isn’t a word.  I AM FIVE RIGHT NOW.

However, I’m hesitant to show it as I think our concept artist(s) want(s) another round of edits.  There are meetings planned to go over what we’ve got.

Script-wise, we’re sitting on something like 60 pages.  Plot-wise, we’re about halfway in Act II, with Act I completely written and about half of Act III written.  I have ideas on how to write the remainder of the script– we need a love scene (think “A Whole New World” or “I See the Light”), a confrontation scene between our protagonists, a pair of “everything is falling apart around me” scenes (Ivan and Luna each get their own), and a rejoining scene where our protagonists team back up to go after our villain.

Then it’s just a resolution scene after the climax, and tada.  Rough draft, complete with obvious continuity errors, an entirely questionable character that needs to get rewritten or cut, and the fact that I haven’t started dealing with the problem of “Princess Luna” already being a pop culture artifact.

devious_princess_luna_by_90sigma-d5ndpps
I’d lie and say that I had no idea, but even you, random server ping from New Zealand, would call bullshit.

Also, 60 pages might sound slim– remember that we don’t have a single song in the script, which should add roughly 15 pages (we have ideas about where songs might go, but no lyrics).  I can see the remainder of the scenes we want taking up about… eh, 15-20 more pages (each scene is about 3 pages, minimum, plus some extra stuff to get everything to line up),  so, really, we’re sitting on around 80-90 pages going into the first round of edits, rewrites and additions.

All in all, this is turning into an actual thing.  Of course, to be an actual actual thing, its time to start engaging in social media for realsies.  One of the dreams for this project is to maybe turn this script into a thing that you watch, rather than read.  The only way I foresee that happening is, well, if people actually want to watch it.

Maybe because I’ve put to much time into it, but I have faith that we have the beginnings of a really great story.  There is a lot of chaff in the rough draft still, but I can see the glimmer of something awesome.  To help me share that, and maybe to bring back livetweets of Disney movies, I’ve started a twitter account for the blog: @writingthemagic

The twitter handle will be used for thoughts I can’t really expand into posts, as well as future livetweets of Disney things… and maybe a place to get suggestions from the crowd if we ever need something like that.

Inspiration from Any Source

Although we’re not done with the rough draft yet, its pretty obvious that there are some things we’ll need to patch up in editing.  One of the most profuse problems (and probably due to the fact that we’re two separate people which highly similar although slightly desperate visions) is a Deus Ex Machina sheen that sorta permeates the entire thing.

As of the current rough draft, we have a lot of important characters and plot elements that appear the moment they’re needed by the plot, then get abandoned like a red-headed stepchild the moment they’ve served their usefulness.  This is mostly due to focus during the rough draft.  Premature optimization is a dangerous thing, in both Computer Science and writing.  Focus on the details too soon, and you’ll miss the forest for the trees.

What I’d like to do (as we edit and polish and all that good jazz) is reference plot elements before they’re actually used, and then bring them back up again when they’re needed.  Elements can also be referenced later on for a joke or a bit of world building or whatever.  I’d like to push us away from looking like a bunch of lazy ancient Greeks and closer to Checkov’s Emporium.

To quote the man himself:
“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
—Anton Chekhov

We need to talk about our rifles more, rather than just having characters pull them out of their butts when required.  So, clearly,  need to look at a master of the plant– a true master of setting things up, a work of fiction so full of references that they’ll plant a plot element only to use it a minute later, something like…

Rick_and_Morty_opening_credits

Oh.  Um.  Avert ye eyes, children!  Tis a dark and dangerous black magik at work here!

Actually, I swear pretty regularly in my posts and have already brought up other not really safe for children material (unless you think graphic ritual sacrifice is family friendly), so… well, time to scar some poor kid for life.

Despite being very, very adult, and very irreverent, Rick and Morty is a master of plants.  Just watch the first minute and a half on an episode (which isn’t actively racist or sexist, so it’s pretty tame):

http://video.adultswim.com/rick-and-morty/ricksy-business.html

That’s a throw-away line that comes in full circle for a joke (and to advance the plot) before we even see the title card.  Clearly, the show’s writers are teaching a master class on what I want to learn.  The big problem is to stop laughing so I can actually pay attention.

My taste in humor is crass.  I’m not proud.

So far, I’ve only seen three episodes, and again, I struggle to turn on the analysis part of my brain when I’m having so much fun, but there is something of a pattern here.  Rick and Morty will drop a line or event that seems almost out of context or just blabble-y.  Sometimes its so random its giggle-worthy just for being so unexpected (I’m pretty sure that’s why Superjail is going on it’s 4th season).  However, that one line will come back as a plot element (usually coupled with some sort of punchline, because this is TV to make you laugh).

However, I really don’t think this is a thing I can template out and plug-and-chug my way through.  I’m sure that there are tons of way to bring up plot elements before the fact, and gracefully slip them in and out when needed.

Meanwhile, i’m gonna go grab a beer and laugh some more.

_____________ Waltz (working title)

We might be bad at titles.

Progress on the writing front continues.  Slowly.  I blame the speed of writing on this being the last two weeks of school before the summer.  But, I’m here to talk our fairy tale of choice, how that choice helped us start to flesh out a character and how our setting is totally not related to anything.

However, I have other cool things to talk about– I’ve asked a friend who is an aspiring composer to see about writing some music for us.  As we’ve covered here, Disney movies work on a strong emotional level, and as such, I wanted to bring in a composer as soon as we had the fairy tale and setting nailed down.  More on that front later in the post.

In addition, I have a tentative ‘yes’ from another friend who does pretty pictures that move.  This job is more colloquially known as an ‘animator’.  No, we’re not going to try and do an entire movie, because that is madness.  Therein lies the abyss, and as Nietzsche wrote, “..as you gaze at Disney princesses, they gaze back at you.”  Or something like that.

The reason behind this is that some concept art and concept music will probably influence the writing.  Maybe that’s not a thing you worry about with screenplays, but as stated before, I’m not the part of this collective with a film degree.  Plus, the more people I can get excited about this project, the greater chance I have of convincing people I’m a high functioning adult.  Also, the greater chance this turns into something even more awesome than an epic script.

So, it’s past time I started actually talking a bit about what we’re writing.  We will be adapting the Grimm fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses (TDP for the rest of this post.  Blame all the academic writing I’ve had to read recently).  The merchandising potential should be immense.

Shannon and I both compiled a top three list fairy tales, in no particular order, and one honorable mention.  Both our lists contained the same tales– TDP, RumpelstiltskinPuss in Boots, and The Brave Little Tailor.

I promise you we aren’t the same person.

Anyway, I pushed for TDP over the other films because 1) both Puss in Boots and Rumpelstilskin have been done to varying degrees recently and 2) The Brave Little Tailor seemed trickier to adapt.

So, what’s important in TDP?  What can’t we, as adapters, change?  Why has this tale been handed down through time, and adapted for countless cultures?  Hm, tough question.

Well, the most obvious examples of things that need to be in the Disney movie are in the title– there are twelve princesses, and they are going to dance.  There is really no way to adapt this tale and not have either of those things present.  In particular though, we get some help from the tale– ten out of twelve princesses can be foils/background characters.  We only need to focus on two of them, the youngest and oldest.

I’ve settled on some names to call them while we hash out plot details– Luna is our oldest, Cassiopeia is our youngest.  All of them have names vaguely related to celestial bodies that also have Russian/Slavic roots (well, Luna has its roots in Latin, but it’s also the Russian word for moon).  You’ll see why the roots are important later.  The names are almost certainly subject to change as we keep writing.

The fairy tale is told from the perspective of a male protagonist.  I don’t see this as an essential element of the tale, but it’s certainly a perfectly fine place to start.  Besides, it’s a fairly unique perspective for a Disney movie.  I’m not denying Aladdin exists, I’m just saying that there are more Snow Whites in the library.  That brings our number of characters up to three– a male protagonist and primary point of view, the oldest princess and the youngest princess.

The other really important thematic element is shoes.  The give away for the princesses sneaking off to dance every night is their footwear– shoes are to this tale what the lamp is to Aladdin.  

The other thematic elements are harder to pin down– most of the fairy tale has curiosity as a motivation for characters.  The downside is here is that curiosity is not a very strong motivator– think of Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  When she goes to explore the west wing, she’s spitting in the face of danger for no better reason than, “But what does this button do?”

I’d claim that curiosity works best as either supplemental motivation, or as a way to get a character to trigger a good inciting incident.  Ariel doesn’t trade her fins for legs because she’s curious about the human world, she does it because her curiosity helped her to fall in love with prince Eric.

Alice in Wonderland, for another example, starts with curiosity being the driving force behind Alice’s actions– she has an insatiable need to know what the rabbit is late for (… did I just do innuendo there?  I feel like I did).  Her curiosity slowly brings wisdom in the trippy-est sense of the word, and transforms into a desire to get back to reality as she finds out that her fantasies don’t always work out for her.

Heeeeeeeey.  Wait a minute—

Let’s not deal with curiosity, but the deal with the knowledge that curiosity brings.  If you want to go poking at the edges of a bit of fabric, the whole thing can start to unravel on you.  What if it does?  What if you learn something you can’t keep to yourself, and that knowledge forces you to act?  What if it’s the last thing your sisters want?  What if it turns your whole world upside down?  What if it makes you do something hard?

Oooh.  Luna is starting to shape up into something character-like.  So, what is she curious about?  What does she learn?

Well, the nightly dances seem to be an obvious place to start.  Clearly, the princesses enjoy them in the tale, so what if they were malicious in some other, unknown way?  Through the course of the tale, then Luna is going to learn about some dark design behind the dancing, and will have to reject her nightly bliss to do the right thing.  She’ll have to reject the fantasy and face the reality.

Yeah, it’s pretty Lion King.  I said this was rough, didn’t I?  What is the sinister plot?  Umm.  Magic?  We’re working on it.

Speaking of magic, our setting is a futuristic Russia.  I told you it wasn’t related to anything else.  Most of the motivation here was just, “what hasn’t Disney done?”., with the follow-up, “What hasn’t Disney done well?”

The idea is to invoke the shit out of Clark’s third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from [Disney] magic.  As such, we’re going to go in the other direction than something like Terminator or Deus Ex.  This isn’t a gritty future, this isn’t hard sci-fi based on actual science of today.  This is a whimsical, magical future.  This is the future of Meet The Robinsons.

But maybe not with that much whimsy, because holy shit does that movie has whimsy.  That about wraps up all I wanted to talk about, so that’s what– a character teaser and some setting information?  Sounds about as much as you’d get from a teaser trailer.

Anyway, on to other things!  The composer who I’ve asked to write pretty music (or not pretty music, if that’s what this script needs), is Kaelee, who is based somewhere out of the greater Seattle Metro area.

You can listen to selections from her work in progress musical, Starshine, on YouTube here.  The track linked in question is “What I Am”, and is pretty goddamn fantastic.

The animator is Steven, who might be the most Internet famous of all of us because he’s made it to io9.  He’s currently doing animation things in Los Angeles, and I’ll be sure to edit in a referral link as soon as I remember to ask for one.

June should be a very fruitful month for writing, as we actually get a real outline on the page and maybe even a first draft (so all these other fantastic people have the ability to work with something more than our outline of questions divided into acts).

Tune in next week for a hopefully more complete post about our protagonist, or maybe our villain, or maybe the youngest princess or maybe more on our setting.  Or maybe how Answer Set Programming should be combined with genetic algorithms, if I get tired enough and have both the blog and my class notes open at the same time.