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Darkwing
Disclaimer: Not a debate thread about whether we should or shouldn't do something. This is just ideas.

Now that that's out of the way, who has some bright ideas to share? I had mentioned the idea of a sci-fi sitcom of some sort. Any thoughts on that or completely unrelated ideas? Just throw them out there (unless you're afraid someone will steal your great idea). But yeah, let's just get some ideas going here and anything else we'll tackle later. Cross that bridge when we come to it as they say wink.gif
Ilidrake
I have two ideas.

1: The Alice in Wonderland idea that I have been working on for about a year now. I'm actually working in several medias for this. The first would be a movie script. The second is AM of course. And I'm actually writing a book to help flesh out my ideas. In a nutshell the story is about Alice's younger sister Anna who has been sent to a mental institute after the death of there parents. In an attempt to deal with the tragedy the Chesire Cat invites her to Alice's Wonderland where Anna seeks out her older sister for answers.

2: I have considered a webisode of a high fantasy vampire story. Basically vampires rule a vast majority of the world, keeping normal people in bondage. Elves, dwarves, and other fantasy creatures are extinct. There blood being a bit richer than humans they didn't last the blood lust long....all but one. A young elf girl managed to survive and with the help of a vampire hunter we follow there quest to free the world of the vampire tyranny.

So that's the two ideas I have right now in active mode. Though the Alice idea is a bit more active.
Darkwing
I've never fully seen nor read Alice, however Alice in Wonderland story does offer a lot of potential for imaginative imagery and fantastical elements that otherwise would be restricted due to "realism." My first thoughts regarding the first idea is that it sounds like an Alice version of Sucker Punch (may or may not be a good thing, I don't know tongue.gif ). Is there any elaboration that can be produced regarding the primary plot? Seeking answers is a good start, but what else can go along with, what other plot can be driving the story (if I'm correct, the actual Alice story is similar in a sense, Alice is seeking answers but the Queen of Hearts is up to something I think and Alice becomes involved in that?)

As much as I personally like a (good) vampire story, in this Twilight driven age of vampires, I'm not sure what kind of "new" creativity can follow the vampire genre. That said though, I do kind of like the basic premise as it allows for story arcs and subplots and the like and again, good visual imagery. Supposing this idea were to be flushed out more, a question I need to ask is, is the vampire hunter simply a hunter of vampires (ie van helsing) or is it an actual vampire hunting vampires. If so, what would this vampire's motivation be. If not, what drives the vampire hunter to be a vampire hunter?
Ilidrake
Most of the Alice story is flushed out, I just am nervous to put too much out on the forums. If someone were to decide to help with this idea then I would be inclined to include the entire story.

As for the vampire story I haven't put nearly the amount of detail you are speaking about into it because right now it is simply an idea and not something I am actively working on right now. Once I decide to actually work on it I will flush out more ideas.
Darkwing
Maybe that's a better starting point then if others intend to hash out some ideas, then it can be flushed out together. Of course others might propose altogether new ideas, I dunno, just throwing that out there
robcat2075
Here's my one-sentence "elevator pitch"...

A college hockey player has to get his Science 101 teacher to the Registrar's Office by 5pm to change his "D" to a "C" so he can remain academically eligible, but he has to go back to the Stone Age to find him after the professor gets zapped there in a teleportation experiment gone wrong.




NancyGormezano
QUOTE(Ilidrake @ Dec 13 2011, 07:08 PM) *
The Alice in Wonderland idea that I have been working on for about a year now. I'm actually working in several medias for this. The first would be a movie script. The second is AM of course. And I'm actually writing a book to help flesh out my ideas. In a nutshell the story is about Alice's younger sister Anna who has been sent to a mental institute after the death of there parents. In an attempt to deal with the tragedy the Chesire Cat invites her to Alice's Wonderland where Anna seeks out her older sister for answers.


I find your "Alice" idea interesting. Who is your target audience? What genre fits it best? Takes place when? where? How much are you interweaving/departing from the original story once you get into Wonderland? There isn't much info. Since it is more developed, are you ready for people to help you flesh it out further? Sounds like you would rather not.

At first glance, and given the minimal information, and my biases, I could imagine it firstly as a sophisticated live action film, not aimed at children, and in the thriller/mystery genre. Not necessarily in the Victorian era, nor in England (even tho I'm a sucker for those times, places). I imagine it with lots of character development, slowly, sitting on the edge of seat revealed, and that "Wonderland" & the Chesire cat are hallucinations, metaphors. Wonderland is the world to which Anna retreats because of it's familiarity, and is the mechanism that Anna's doctor (perhaps the Chesire cat) uses to get her to come to terms with whatever awful thing happened, or is about to happen. Perhaps Alice is really evil in this flick? Or Alice has gone missing & is being held hostage in some sicko's "Wonderland"?

Or is it an absurd, Albert gorey-ish, sexy animated comedy for college boys with Angelina Jolie look-alikes wielding swords and light sabers battling Jabberwockies? Ogre & Donkey sidekick slapstick for old people? (sure, right). Political satire for the intelligensia? Or a series of twisted tales, aimed to scare the beejeebers outta 5 year olds? Ok Political satire scares everyone.

If you get to a point where you feel you really do have a potential live action film script (or even full length animated feature script). I suggest having a look at Amazon Studios. You never know. They are into buying scripts, awarding money in contests, producing films. They may not produce your flick (very long shot), and if they do, they may not produce it how you envisioned it, in the style, nor even how you might recognize it. But you'll get feedback, and the potential for way more big BUCKS (monthly contests), than most other venues. Better than leaving it in a drawer. If I could write a full length film script, that's what I would do. I don't need to say it, but I will: Story is king.
Wildsided
The Alice in Wonderland idea draws a lot of parallels to the American Mcgee games series 'Alice', in these games Alice has been institutionalized after her parents die in a fire and she goes a bit....well okay a lot mad. to cope with her psychosis her mind takes her back to Wonderland and we are introduced to a twisted version of Wonderland based on Alice's broken psyche.

We reviewed Alice in Epic Gamin' episode 5

http://blip.tv/EpicGamin/american-mcgee-s-...isode-5-5079424

and the sequel Alice Madness Returns in Episode 10

http://blip.tv/EpicGamin/alice-madness-ret...sode-10-5303542

There's also a horror comic book series by Zenescope Entertainment in its Grimm Fairy tales series that follows a similar concept. This one features Alice grown up and insane and her daughter Callie being pulled into the twisted Wonderland.

Not accusing Ilidrake of anything, just pointing out that the idea has mostly already been done. That said a lot of things have been 'done before' and still get re-done.

NancyGormezano
QUOTE(Wildsided @ Dec 14 2011, 10:34 AM) *
The Alice in Wonderland idea draws a lot of parallels to the American Mcgee games series 'Alice', in these games Alice has been institutionalized after her parents die in a fire and she goes a bit....well okay a lot mad. to cope with her psychosis her mind takes her back to Wonderland and we are introduced to a twisted version of Wonderland based on Alice's broken psyche.

There's also a horror comic book series by Zenescope Entertainment in its Grimm Fairy tales series that follows a similar concept. This one features Alice grown up and insane and her daughter Callie being pulled into the twisted Wonderland.

Not accusing Ilidrake of anything, just pointing out that the idea has mostly already been done. That said a lot of things have been 'done before' and still get re-done.


I had never heard of any of these before! The first idea that one comes up with (for anything) is usually the most obvious, and not usually the most creative. Demonstrates again to me how imperative it is to brainstorm (by oneself or with coworkers) with as many alternatives as possible, no matter what creative "art" field, or type of technological development one is doing.
Darkwing
QUOTE(robcat2075 @ Dec 14 2011, 01:01 PM) *
Here's my one-sentence "elevator pitch"...

A college hockey player has to get his Science 101 teacher to the Registrar's Office by 5pm to change his "D" to a "C" so he can remain academically eligible, but he has to go back to the Stone Age to find him after the professor gets zapped there in a teleportation experiment gone wrong.



Ok, so a basic question, why would the teacher change his grade? Was it a mistake grade or something? What kind of format do you envision this working with? Single short film, feature film, web-series? I am intrigued by the concept personally, though I know next to nothing about sports. Also, what relevance would being a hockey player have? (ie when the climax arrives, character has some pivotal skill he learned in hockey that saves him and the prof from whatever the danger was). On that note, is stone age a good time era for it? Could be Ice Age era (might make more sense than neolithic especially if the main character is a hockey player)
robcat2075
An "elevator pitch" is about the same amount of information that a trailer or poster might convey to try to interest a ticket buyer in a movie.


QUOTE(Darkwing @ Dec 14 2011, 12:58 PM) *
QUOTE(robcat2075 @ Dec 14 2011, 01:01 PM) *
Here's my one-sentence "elevator pitch"...

A college hockey player has to get his Science 101 teacher to the Registrar's Office by 5pm to change his "D" to a "C" so he can remain academically eligible, but he has to go back to the Stone Age to find him after the professor gets zapped there in a teleportation experiment gone wrong.



Ok, so a basic question, why would the teacher change his grade? Was it a mistake grade or something?


There are lots of possible reasons. That's why Registrar's Offices have "Grade Change" forms. The grade change problem is the MacGuffin that inserts the characters into interesting situations.


QUOTE
What kind of format do you envision this working with? Single short film, feature film, web-series?


I see it as a feature film.

QUOTE
I am intrigued by the concept personally, though I know next to nothing about sports. Also, what relevance would being a hockey player have? (ie when the climax arrives, character has some pivotal skill he learned in hockey that saves him and the prof from whatever the danger was).


a Hockey player because:

-A hockey player and a university physics professor are conveniently contrasting characters
-It's not quite the overused movie cliche that college football or basketball players are but is not so specialized that it needs lots of explaining to the audience.
-A hockey player's physical skills of endurance, speed and accuracy may be more credibly useful in adventure situations than other sport skills would be without being too convenient and on-the-nose as an archer's or javelin thrower's might be.
-Needing to retain "academic eligibility" is something most of the audience would would understand and appreciate without having to devote a lot of screen time to explaining it.
-Hockey players look better than football or basketball players.

QUOTE
On that note, is stone age a good time era for it? Could be Ice Age era (might make more sense than neolithic especially if the main character is a hockey player)


I regard stone age and ice age as pretty much the same. Yes there definitely would be quite a bit of ice in this movie but the title "Ice Age" itself has already been used in animated features I believe.
Ilidrake
Well like the title says I'm just bashing ideas around. I'll sit on my Alice idea for a bit longer.

Another idea I have is a bit darker, with some Burton type humor.

Latimer, a boy of about 11 years old, dies one evening while having dinner with his parents. He chokes on a cherry. He comes from a well-to-do family who are very proper and stiff. This of course has made the boy miserable his whole 11 years of life.
He wakes up in the land of the dead. He is unburied on this side by the gravekeeper, who after calming the boy down describes what Latimer's situation is. Latimer, and ever other soul, is stuck. A being of pure evil, a lich, has seized control of the gateway beyond and is attempting to build a device out of it to conquer the living and the dead....
Latimer, along with a few friends, must overcome several obstacles to free the trapped souls so they can find eternal rest....

Side note friends include....An out of work death, a frankenstien type monster that has some serious gender isssues, and the head of edgar Allan Poe.

Anyway, thats my pitch. I've actually been rolling that idea around for a few years as well. I wrote a small short story on it and even did a storyboard for it (lost due to a computer crash)

But it would definitly be aimed more towards teens to adults. The artwork would be very close to what my female elf character looks like.
Rodney
Somewhere I have some drawings from my younger days (perhaps the mid 80s) of a version of 'Alice in Wonderland' with a boy instead of a girl. For lack of a better title I called it 'Alex in Weirdwarp' and it was cartoony with sci fi elements. I suppose I thought it would be easier to identify with a boy's adventuring in a strange and bizarre world lost somewhere out of time, matter and space easier than I could a girl. wink.gif

Significantly, the only thing 'Alex in Weirdwarp' really had to do with the original Alice was the name as I did not care much for Disney's version (except the pretty art). My attempt might have been to correct some perceived deficiency because I really disliked Alice... viewing her as a flawed character because she seemed irritatingly and excessively spoiled. Mostly I just wanted to create really strange worlds that, unlike Wonderland, made sense to me even if it kept other people guessing at what was going to happen next in the story. I borrowed elements 'Alex' when I started 'My Robot Story' here in the A:M Forum back '03/'04. The real reason for 'My Robot Story' wasn't to create a film however. It was my initial way to get involved in the A:M Community, share experiences with others and discover better ways to move forward.


QUOTE
Latimer, a boy of about 11 years old, dies one evening while having dinner with his parents. He chokes on a cherry. He comes from a well-to-do family who are very proper and stiff. This of course has made the boy miserable his whole 11 years of life.
He wakes up in the land of the dead. He is unburied on this side by the gravekeeper, who after calming the boy down describes what Latimer's situation is. Latimer, and ever other soul, is stuck. A being of pure evil, a lich, has seized control of the gateway beyond and is attempting to build a device out of it to conquer the living and the dead....
Latimer, along with a few friends, must overcome several obstacles to free the trapped souls so they can find eternal rest....

Side note friends include....An out of work death, a frankenstien type monster that has some serious gender isssues, and the head of edgar Allan Poe.


Interestingly, that last line is the most compelling to me. Before that I was just going to ask you how important having Latimer choke on a cherry was to the story. I'm imagining it might have some significance (even if only poetically) and not just be a throwaway element in the story.

Now you've got me curious. If the story was only about those three characters; Death, Franky and APoe would you be up to writing the story? Their interaction would certainly be intriguing.
Ilidrake
When you say write the story with only those three characters, do you mean without Latimer? Because the original idea had nothing to do with the boy at all, he simply formed as i fleshed out more of the story in my head. And the cherry just sort of popped in there too. I could imagine Latimer setting all proper at the diner table, his parents stiff and unapproving. A maid enteres and places an ice cream sundae topped with a cherry in front of each. Delighted at the treat the boy takes a huge bite and then his eyes bulge as he gasps for breath. As he struggles his parents contiue to discuss grown-up things completely oblivious to the boys peril.... for some reason I can picture that scene being animated to be very funny.

But yes Rodney. I can write just about anything if you give me sufficient time. What do you have in mind?
Rodney
I'm just bashing ideas around as the topic title says. Nothing specific in mind here except to get to the root of the story.

My thought is not to drop Latimer so much as to better understand his purpose in this particular story. He seems to be important but the premise you have stated doesn't address this yet so we have to invent/imagine it. While its fairly easy to imagine what Death, Franky and APoe might look and act like Latimer is more of a generic kid... a mystery. What is most fascinating to me is that you've created a situation of interest with only one sentence (by introducing three characters). Their characteristics (and our understanding of them) makes them appear to be essential to the story. The fact that they are friends (at least of Latimer if not of each other) is more compelling evidence that there is a story worth telling here. Without seeing a word from the script I can already see dialogue forming between those three. In a sentence you've introduced three characters with personalities.

As an attempt to answer my own questions of story I will guess that Latimer is important to the story because he is the only true human element in the story. The problem with this (and I assume the primary conflict) is that near the beginning of the story we find Latimer at a tender age (accidentally) dead. Interesting.

So, you've got the setup, the characters, now we need to hear them tell their stories.
(Pardon me while I get a little silly here... I'm listening to the characters to see what they are telling me)

Are these three friends debating something?
Perhaps Franky can't decide what to wear to Latimer's funeral. Perhaps APoe doesn't like what Franky is going to wear. Perhaps Death doesn't have a preference either way... so they are going to seek out Latimer prematurely to get him to cast a vote as tiebreaker.

Perhaps the real debate is how silly it is to choke and die on a little cherry seed? (It's never about what people wear to a funeral)

Perhaps the real debate is whether Latimer should be alive or dead? (Perhaps one thinks Latimer should be returned to life on a technicality?
I can almost hear Allan Poe pleading the boys case, "According to the law not every man will die who chokes on a cherry seed." and "May I remind you this child is not yet a man." and "Therefore the law cannot apply." and "I rest my case."

If you reduce the story to it's absolute necessities you can then carefully craft back in exactly what the story needs.

What is the conflict?
(I understand the addition of the evil character that is standing in the way of Latimer resting in peace for all of eternity but that seems rather anticlimactic and unrelated to the characters interaction... that doesn't mean this villain couldn't rise in some way to assume a more importance in the story but that adds another major character's story arc to the deal. My initial thought is that even if they win against this guy, Latimer loses by heading for eternity anyway. Perhaps Latimer gets to go back to the land of the living while Death, Franky and Apoe go on to a better place where they'll STILL debate the infinite mysteries of eternity)

That last bit is important.
How do these characters resolve the story?
Presently your pitch lacks perhaps the most important element in any story... the ending.
Remember, you aren't creating the story so much as the characters are dictating it.

As I've said, you have me intrigued.
Darkwing
Despite having apparent dark overtones, I could actually see that idea be twisted around into a more adventerous sense, kind of collecting bits and pieces from the Alice idea of this fantastical world (the land of the dead or whatever) and having to have these characters go after something (ie piece of evidence to prove that Latimer wasn't in fact supposed to die and was part of the devious ploy by the being of pure evil.

Also, I've always been fascinated by Poe and his bordering of mental instability and insanity and his suicidal like tendencies, except where he's already dead that could pose some interesting character quirks for poe
Ilidrake
Okay this idea seems to have stirred a slight bit of interest so I'm going to write up a story and character summary for everyone to bash around. Please note that it is still a work in progress and nothing is written in stone until I say otherwise. Also note that putting my ideas out here like this is something that has never, ever occured.

Latimer is a normal eleven year old boy. He lives in a not so normal world. His parents are not wealthy but they are very well to do. So much in fact Latimer's mother loves to put on airs. Even if there is no one to impress. His father, wanting only the best for his family, allows his mother to live in this fashion. He may not approve of it completely but he does so enjoy it sometimes.
Unfortunately Latimer has a very bad disagreement with a cherry on his ice cream and he dies at the young age of eleven. Though he realizes it or not his parents are crushed by this lose. And even though it would be wonderful for some event to occur early in this story to show him this, it isn't.
Instead the boy is “unburied” on the other side by a person known simply as Gravedigger. He's a simple gatekeeper between the land of the living. He tries his best to make sure that all those that pass over are pointed in the right direction upon “waking up”.
After calming the boy down and explaining what has occurred he points him in the direction of a small city nearby. It's the only city in the land of the dead in fact. It was built here by the bad guy(no name or idea who the main villain is yet). Built around the great portal to the beyond. Unfortunately for poor Latimer the bus stops here. Literally! The Villain has not allowed anyone to pass beyond the gate for many years. His excuses have no boundaries and he enforces his law with giant skeletons under control of his magic.
Truthfully the Portal of the Great Beyond still works. Though to ask the Villain you would think not. Instead he has blocked all from leaving and is using the souls of the departed to fuel his own evil machinations of domination. Not content with just ruling the dead he has conceived of a plan that will allow him to bridge a gap between the two worlds and rule both with a iron fist.
But he did not see a small boy in his plans. Because like all boys his age Latimer has many questions. The only thing he lacks is the self confidence to pursue them to the end. At least at first...
As Latimer takes off to the City of the Dead he is greeted by a most unusual fellow driving a horse driven carriage. The Man! The Myth! The Legend! None other than Death! Who is completely depressed being out of a job. Since the Portal beyond quit working no souls have needed to be ushered to there final resting place. Instead he ushers them to the city where he owns part of a pub.
The pub, named The Raven, is also part owned by Edgar Allan Poe. Of course it's only part of Poe that owns part of the pub. Just his head really. Which spends most of his time on the pub's small stage reciting many of the lines from his books. And he's quite proud of them. But also angry. Everyone enjoys a bit of his poetry from time to time, but not any new material. Whenever he attempts to quote something new he gets booed.
These two fine fellows quickly friend the boy. But Latimer cannot accept that this is all there is to it. And why the city, if it can be called that, isn't any bigger than what it is. Where is everyone? Shouldn't this place be filling up on an hourly basis? Death and Poe try to explain it away with the same excuses they themselves have been told time and time again, but Latimer isn't hearing it. He sets out to meet this Villain and get some answers.
And meet the Villain he does. But the Villain dislikes being questioned and banishes the boy to an old deserted castle that the Villain himself used to inhabit.
After a bit of exploration Latimer runs into Franky. The last experiment of the Villain. And also the reason that the Portal of the Great Beyond being closed. Franky of course has some quirks. He is a monster and knows it, but the Villain accidentally fused small parts of a woman's brain into Franky's so he has great fashion sense. He sometimes forgets what sex he is and Latimer needs to constantly remind him he is a boy.
Franky also has a terrible temper. He knows this and is probably one of the reasons he allows his feminine side to wander into his day to day affairs. He knows by allowing the anger out he could hurt many many people.


So that's kinda what I have so far. No major scene ideas just a general synopsis of the story I have in my head right now. I've really been giving all the characters a bit more thought and I've been flushing them out on paper. So feedback, ideas??? Things that don't work? Things that could or do work?
Ilidrake
Another idea a friend of mine helped come up with is about zombies from outer space smile.gif
Rodney
QUOTE
So that's kinda what I have so far. No major scene ideas just a general synopsis of the story I have in my head right now. I've really been giving all the characters a bit more thought and I've been flushing them out on paper. So feedback, ideas??? Things that don't work? Things that could or do work?


I like it! About a zillion times more than I would probably like a zombies from outer space epic. wink.gif

There was some very interesting imagery flowing through my mind as I read your latest so it was definitely sinking in. There are some very good ideas in there.
If interested I'd be happy to post more general thoughts later.

The real underlying question is: Do you REALLY want to make this?
If you do you should put some prime effort into further development.
If still unsure or tempted by something else, start two folders (for this project); one physical and one virtual to collect your ideas related to this project. Of course, you should start folders like this regardless... collect anything and everything related to your story/stories in them. Eventually, even with it being a side project, you'll open that folder to find you've got a whole lot to work with. The more you can nail down on this yourself the more you will (in theory) retain of those ideas as the project progresses. The more input you get from others the more your ideas will naturally drift. Both for the worse and for the better.

Steady progress toward the finish line will win the race.

QUOTE
No major scene ideas just a general synopsis of the story I have in my head right now.


The most important thing at this stage is to get those ideas out of your head and into the real world where they have a chance of being fully 'rendered'.
Darkwing
I concur, it's an intriguing and visual idea and could lend itself well to either a feature or web-series format I think. It's a trifle late and my brain's fizzled right now, but seriously, flesh this one out some cause it does seem to have a decent amount of potential!
Ilidrake
It's one of those ideas that I've been tinkering with and building on for about 2 years now. At least I think it's been that long. At any rate I would really like to pursue it but it's scale is probably bigger than one person can accomplish. I'm not saying I won't, I have in fact drawn some sketches of some of the characters. As well as I continue to write on the story and tinker with a script.
Rodney, you know I value your thoughts and would love to hear more about what you think. If you have any areas that could be improved or thoughts for something diffrent please let me know.
You too Darkwing!!! Someone who has actually done a webisode or animation is someone who's opinion I value.
Rodney
QUOTE
I would really like to pursue it but it's scale is probably bigger than one person can accomplish.


Not probably. It is! smile.gif
(Although note, the probability of one person accomplishing a feature film on that scale is directly proportional to their continuing interest)

The first thing everyone does is come up with stories on a grand scale... epics in the making.
This is a very good thing but almost without fail becomes overwhelming.

It can help also to think in terms of three. (and of eating elephants one bite at a time)

Split your over all story/epic into three parts (films usually have three Acts... more on that controversy later).
So with that you've got a Beginning, a Middle and the Ending.
Unless one of those is overly compelling and must be told, its best to first focus on the middle. (like George Lucas did!)
Now look hard at that middle Act and break it down into three parts again.
How is the Act set up?
How does it end?
With those end points known we can then begin interpolate/understand what lies in between.
...and of course we are back focusing on a new 'middle' once again.

Good stories are often found in the the middle of things. J.R.R Tolkien set 'The Lord of the Rings' in Middle Earth for very good reason.
Balance is found midway between things. Want to heighten the tension of Act 2? Reach for elements you've considered near the extremes of Acts 1 and 3.
While we are stuck here in the middle hope still springs eternal. Perhaps from the mere thought of the love of a Father and a Mother even as darkness falls to encompass all things. Reaching the end is not our goal in storytelling... it's the anticipation of reaching that goal that carries us forward. Similarly, we would never want to fully define and demonstrate the unstoppable incarnation of pure evil; that is something always best conceived in the audiences imagination with which we cannot compete.

Somewhere in the middle between bad and good storytelling are the themes that entertain us.
They also can be broken by threes.

Don't forget, if you want to pursue this or any idea you can always create a WIP. smile.gif
Rodney
With regard to storytelling and 'bashing ideas around'... right on cue...

Mark Kennedy just posted a related topic over on his blog and as usual he can say the words better than me (he should be able to he's got the experience!):

Here's the opening paragraph from his latest blog entry:
QUOTE
As artists, when we create stories in a visual medium, we control the look of everything. Every character, every background, every prop and every detail has to be designed. We have to make a choice about how each and every thing will look, and why. It can seem overwhelming,


Note: The above paragraph is more about our current discussion than the rest of the blog entry which focuses more on continuity and consistency throughout a movie. But it's a good read anyway.


Choices Create a Believeable and Consistent World

There are a group of blogs I visit regularly and 'Seven Camels' is one of them.
Darkwing
Ambiguity usually works wonders like Rodney said (why do you think people like the book more than movie?).

Also, you have several things going for you. One is there are only 4 main characters. That really simplifies matters. The second is that this appears to be a story that could work in both a grand scale and a miniature scale as well. This is one of the reasons I kind of like the webisode idea, it allows you to directly break the story down into manageable chunks and allows you to have "completed" products as well without the entire story having yet been produced. Of course the exception is something like Red Squad in which the webisodes are long enough to make the production time about a year. :/
NancyGormezano
QUOTE(Ilidrake @ Dec 15 2011, 10:51 PM) *
Latimer is a normal eleven year old boy. He lives in a not so normal world. His parents are not wealthy but they are very well to do. So much in fact Latimer's mother loves to put on airs. Even if there is no one to impress. His father, wanting only the best for his family, allows his mother to live in this fashion. He may not approve of it completely but he does so enjoy it sometimes.
Unfortunately Latimer has a very bad disagreement with a cherry on his ice cream and he dies at the young age of eleven. Though he realizes it or not his parents are crushed by this lose. And even though it would be wonderful for some event to occur early in this story to show him this, it isn't.
Instead the boy is “unburied” on the other side by a person known simply as Gravedigger. He's a simple gatekeeper between the land of the living. He tries his best to make sure that all those that pass over are pointed in the right direction upon “waking up”.
After calming the boy down and explaining what has occurred he points him in the direction of a small city nearby. It's the only city in the land of the dead in fact. It was built here by the bad guy(no name or idea who the main villain is yet). Built around the great portal to the beyond. Unfortunately for poor Latimer the bus stops here. Literally! The Villain has not allowed anyone to pass beyond the gate for many years. His excuses have no boundaries and he enforces his law with giant skeletons under control of his magic.
Truthfully the Portal of the Great Beyond still works. Though to ask the Villain you would think not. Instead he has blocked all from leaving and is using the souls of the departed to fuel his own evil machinations of domination. Not content with just ruling the dead he has conceived of a plan that will allow him to bridge a gap between the two worlds and rule both with a iron fist.
But he did not see a small boy in his plans. Because like all boys his age Latimer has many questions. The only thing he lacks is the self confidence to pursue them to the end. At least at first...
As Latimer takes off to the City of the Dead he is greeted by a most unusual fellow driving a horse driven carriage. The Man! The Myth! The Legend! None other than Death! Who is completely depressed being out of a job. Since the Portal beyond quit working no souls have needed to be ushered to there final resting place. Instead he ushers them to the city where he owns part of a pub.
The pub, named The Raven, is also part owned by Edgar Allan Poe. Of course it's only part of Poe that owns part of the pub. Just his head really. Which spends most of his time on the pub's small stage reciting many of the lines from his books. And he's quite proud of them. But also angry. Everyone enjoys a bit of his poetry from time to time, but not any new material. Whenever he attempts to quote something new he gets booed.
These two fine fellows quickly friend the boy. But Latimer cannot accept that this is all there is to it. And why the city, if it can be called that, isn't any bigger than what it is. Where is everyone? Shouldn't this place be filling up on an hourly basis? Death and Poe try to explain it away with the same excuses they themselves have been told time and time again, but Latimer isn't hearing it. He sets out to meet this Villain and get some answers.
And meet the Villain he does. But the Villain dislikes being questioned and banishes the boy to an old deserted castle that the Villain himself used to inhabit.
After a bit of exploration Latimer runs into Franky. The last experiment of the Villain. And also the reason that the Portal of the Great Beyond being closed. Franky of course has some quirks. He is a monster and knows it, but the Villain accidentally fused small parts of a woman's brain into Franky's so he has great fashion sense. He sometimes forgets what sex he is and Latimer needs to constantly remind him he is a boy.
Franky also has a terrible temper. He knows this and is probably one of the reasons he allows his feminine side to wander into his day to day affairs. He knows by allowing the anger out he could hurt many many people.


So that's kinda what I have so far. No major scene ideas just a general synopsis of the story I have in my head right now. I've really been giving all the characters a bit more thought and I've been flushing them out on paper. So feedback, ideas??? Things that don't work? Things that could or do work?


I think this is excellent! It surprisingly caught my interest, as it wouldn't be a genre I would necessarily be attracted. I really like the quirkiness of the characters, the situations, and can see it has great potential for humor (not sure you're going in that direction). I have nothing to add, except - KEEP GOING !
Ilidrake
Quick question. Would Cleopatra make a good villain?
Wildsided
QUOTE(Ilidrake @ Dec 22 2011, 07:00 PM) *
Quick question. Would Cleopatra make a good villain?


She'd need to be a Saucy Villain, just ask Caesar and Marc Anthony
Rodney
QUOTE
Quick question. Would Cleopatra make a good villain?


Yes, and the Easter Bunny would make a good villain also.
The real question is can you characterize them as such and more importantly is she essential to your story's plot.

To really be able to answer that question we might have to know more about where she fits into that plot.
If at any time you could easily swap out Cleopatra for some other villain... she isn't the right villain for that specific plot.
So the real questions to ask:

Who is/was Cleopatra?
What is Cleapatra doing in your plot?
What does her presence add to the story?
What does the story lose if she is taken out?

Now having said all of this Cleopatra might be useful in your story even if she has no particularly prime role in the plot. For instance, she might be just hanging around, someone you run into from time to time. "Hey Cleo, what's up? How's Marc?" Sometimes, especially when the story starts to tell itself and the characters themselves lead you around, the secondary characters may rise to become essential to the plot. For instance, after many repetitions, one day she may unexpectedly snap when you ask her about Marc! Give her a motivation to act out.

Note that I assume that you already have ideas that could hinge on Cleopatra... this is just to add more into the pot.
Rodney
I just ran across Jeffrey Katzenberg's letter to Disney executives back in tougher times at Disney. The letter is a long one and well worth reading but it has one section that applies to some of what we've been discussing here. In a way it's more fodder for the debate on what is most important character/story/idea/fill-in-the-blank. I should say that I agree only in part with what I've quoted here from Katzenberg and find the whole prospect of 'new ideas' to be a bit of a misnomer. As important as they are, new ideas are just old ideas presented in a different/unfamiliar/fresh way. Ideas cannot be kings. Neither can stories. Characters can. In order for an audience to make a connection there must be some characteristic in a story-line such as a compelling emotion, a point of interest for contrast or comparison, or a thought provoking message worth expressing. We connect to these because when present we see ourselves.

QUOTE
QUOTE
The Idea is King


In the dizzying world of moviemaking, we must not be distracted from one fundamental concept: the idea is king. Stars, directors, writers, hardware, special effects, new sound systems… all of these can have a role to play in the success of a film, but they must all serve as humble subjects to the supremacy of the idea.

If a movie begins with a great, original idea, chances are good it will be successful, even if it is executed only marginally well. However, if a film begins with a flawed idea, it will most certainly fail, even if it is made with “A” talent and marketed to the hilt.

People don’t want to see what they’ve already seen. So, we need to be bold enough to stretch bounds, push the envelope of creativity and follow our hearts along with our heads. When we fail, let it be because we tried to innovate, not emulate. And, by so doing, I am convinced that we will continue to reap success.

This is the key for controlling our destiny -- to have the courage to search out authentic, great ideas… and then have the steadfastness to control the material that is subsequently developed.

If the idea and the screenplay are strong, then it is possible to hire a less established star and a less established director and as a result be less of a hostage to the marketplace. Or, conversely, an idea and a screenplay can be so great as to attract major talent, who will be sufficiently excited that they will agree to terms that are acceptable to us.

Of course, this idea of internal development runs counter to the actions of many of our competitors, who have been paying $2-3 million for screenplays. While their willingness to pay such sums may be a sign of financial strength, it is also a blatant admission of creative bankruptcy.

In a world where we can come up with our own idea and engage a young writer for $50,000-$70,000 or a proven writer for $250,000 to develop it, it is hard to understand how the amounts being paid for spec scripts can be justified. Creative studio executives should be in the business of developing ideas, not buying them.

To be sure, after having worked so hard and achieved such considerable success at Disney, the temptation is to kick back and spend our hard-won profits on a “Basic Instinct” or a Richard Donner in the hope that their mere acquisition will lead to continued success. It’s a temptation we’ll keep having to resist.

It’s our job to find the great idea, then nurture it and manage it until it has a shot at finding its audience.

It’s not easy.

But whoever said it was.


As I said, the letter is a long one and it can be read in its entirety here:
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/11/some-...r-business.html
robcat2075
I think it's more complicated than declaring any one thing is "king", there's a whole palette of parts that need to be engaging, but in different movies the parts are in different proportions. Sometimes the mix works and sometimes it doesn't and no one seems to be able to identify whether the mix is correct until after the movie is made

Darkwing
QUOTE(Ilidrake @ Dec 22 2011, 08:00 PM) *
Quick question. Would Cleopatra make a good villain?



Personally I think if you're going to throw in a historical character as a villain, make it someone who was more villainy (ie cliche Hitler). On that note, perhaps the villain should be more than just a single person. You've stated something of pure evil is what's been holding people from crossing over. Perhaps the villain can be more ambiguous ie the dark hopes and dreams or inhibitions in ourselves that hold us back. Perhaps the primary character(s) have to go on one of those soul searching adventures or something to realize that it's everyone's collective "evil" so to speak that has comprised the "master evil" if you will
itsjustme
QUOTE(Darkwing @ Dec 23 2011, 07:38 PM) *
Personally I think if you're going to throw in a historical character as a villain, make it someone who was more villainy (ie cliche Hitler).


Where's the fun in that? I think it's a lot more fun if the villain is the person that you don't expect...like history isn't accurate. Like "Little Bo Peep" enslaving her sheep...kinda changes the story a little, those sheep were trying to get away.
John Bigboote
I read a lot of ideas for animated films and ask... can this film be made on regular video with real people and scenarios? A lot of the time, the answer is... SURE! Then I wonder... why even bother going to all the trouble of animating it? If it's just to control the visuals and make a cool looking film, then great- knock yourself out. I'd like to see people relying on animation as less of an 'alternative' and more of the 'vehicle' or instigous for even making a film at all... I think we've all adopted it as a crutch of sorts. I hate to take this position... but I look at the cartoons made in the 'heyday; of animation... the Tex Avery, Popeyes, Warner Brothers, and the Richard Williams 'Baby Herman' stuff from Roger Rabbit, and I think that the technology has leapt forward in unforeseen dimensions - but the art of animated cartooning has effectively 'stalemated'. SURE, there are the Family Guys and Simpsons- and I LOVE that stuff... but what if someone rose the bar another notch....?
Ilidrake
QUOTE(John Bigboote @ Dec 23 2011, 09:38 PM) *
I read a lot of ideas for animated films and ask... can this film be made on regular video with real people and scenarios? A lot of the time, the answer is... SURE! Then I wonder... why even bother going to all the trouble of animating it? If it's just to control the visuals and make a cool looking film, then great- knock yourself out. I'd like to see people relying on animation as less of an 'alternative' and more of the 'vehicle' or instigous for even making a film at all... I think we've all adopted it as a crutch of sorts. I hate to take this position... but I look at the cartoons made in the 'heyday; of animation... the Tex Avery, Popeyes, Warner Brothers, and the Richard Williams 'Baby Herman' stuff from Roger Rabbit, and I think that the technology has leapt forward in unforeseen dimensions - but the art of animated cartooning has effectively 'stalemated'. SURE, there are the Family Guys and Simpsons- and I LOVE that stuff... but what if someone rose the bar another notch....?

Well not to sound rude but i have invested alot of time and money into learning to animate and model so.....ya im gonna make an animated film. Else i wouldve got into some other hobby.
Rodney
As a purely technical exercise we could create just about anything in animation but I'm in agreement with Matt and others here about drawing so much from reality that we replicate it. There are times when I think the perfect capturing of things in the real world is useful and even necessary but it most cases this is as a means of reference; we want to refer to the original when the original is not readily available or might be adversely effected by our use of it.

Speaking of originals... here's a guy that that says stuff better than me and hits on many of the topics we've been bashing about.
(My apologies to the author for my heavy handed edit/summary/outline)

QUOTE
5 Things to do with an Idea

1. Flesh out the idea. A thought is not a thing.
- Drawings, scripts, sketches, documents, photographs, music and movies – these are things.
- (Critical) Transform the idea into a thing in the shortest amount of time possible.
- Ideas are instantly perishable. We can’t bottle up inspiration, ziplock it, or toss it in the freezer and thaw it out later and expect it to still be fresh. (adapted from Jason Fried, Getting Real)
- Transform the abstract into artifact. (Perhaps we can explore this one later... but in the meantime think of caricature and exaggeration)
- Once the idea has a physical form show it to someone else!

2. Find feedback. The only way to find out if what you have is good is to ask someone else.
- Select your audience carefully.
- Where preferable choose one or more people who are supportive, but also likely to tell the truth and give constructive feedback.
- Seek someone besides your Mom and your Boss. Start with other artists or trusted friends.
- Take into account the different backgrounds of reviewers. For some, a rough sketch will be all they need to “get it”. Others might need an animatic, or a soundtrack with scratch dialog, or to see a test render before they understand what its is you are trying to communicate.
- Remember the critiquing is about your work – not you. Don't take it personal.

3. Finish it. This is the step most people don’t accomplish.
- You don’t have to finish the whole thing but you must finish at least one phase of it.
If you have the time and energy to complete the entire project – good for you. Congratulations!

As an example for an idea related to animated short film:
- Develop it to the point where the script is finished.

If in visual development, or character design – don’t create one setting or one character. Finish them all.

If you’ve taken the trouble to do 80% of the storyboards, you might as well finish the rest off.

When you complete a unit of work you’ll feel better, your brain will acknowledge you are done with that portion and even without any other feedback will recognize the accomplishment.

4. File it Put documents, drawings, scripts, soundtracks and designs away where you can easily find them again.
Don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Don't be a slave to repetitious tasks.
Don't lose your original files. Save them. Salvage them. Secure them.
You never know when you’re going to need them again.

5. Forget about it
By this stage, you have one or more completed artifacts/representations of your idea, you've received some useful feedback and you know where to find the materials in the future. Congratulations! Now forget about it.

If you’ve got the energy, passion, time and resources, then by all means continue until you run out of puff, but after that: just stop and move on.

There are two psychological tricks going on here:
Firstly, your brain is now free of the finished project and can now start work dreaming up the next big idea.
Secondly, at some point in the future an opportunity may arise where you can reuse your idea.

They say that luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. Here’s what that looks like:
You meet someone at a party who is looking for ideas.
You stumble across a film festival seeking submissions.
A friend wants a concept so they can practice using some new software.
Bingo. You've already got a handful of fleshed-out, finished ideas with feedback, all filed away and ready for the occasion.


Disclaimer: This article has been heavily edited. For more of the original content please refer to the original article published in Feb 2011 by Phil Willis:
Source: http://animationideas.com/five-things-to-do-with-your-ideas/
Additional Resources: Phil works for http://www.drdstudios.com/ and was recently seen working on 'Happy Feet 2', his website and his blog: http://animationideas.com/
Darkwing
Fortunately and idea like this has the potential to be very visual and take massive liberties (I mean it is "purgatory" in a sense). It would be very interesting to see it done in an almost Dahli like style or something, it would at the least be very appropriate I think
Ilidrake
What is the Dahli style? I was thinking more along the lines of my own visual style. Anyway all of that aside, I've been writing like mad this last week. I'm actually writing a script for this and I must say I'm quite stunned at the ideas that are popping into my head. I had the general, broad view, of the story but none of the small details like dialogue between characters and set designs. now all of these elements are starting to come to life and I'm very satisfied. This is of course a rough draft and I have parts I don't like much but over all the feel is very good. I have a few issues with showing any of it in detail but would love to get feedback from Rodney, Darkwing, and Nancy if you guys are interested. I could email a pdf copy for you guys to look over.
Of course if you do want to read it please understand I've never written a script so it is very rough and clumsy. I'm using Final Draft Pro though so it can't be as bad as I think it is. Though it's probably worse smile.gif
Gerry
I think Darkwing meant Dali, like Salvador Dali. I can see it more Tim Burton-ish, though that may be too obvious/cliched. I do like the story premise! I've had a couple of ideas that I have thought about pitching here but they all seem to need more work to be intelligible. I'm watching this thread though!
Darkwing
Yeah sure! I'll read through anything if you want to send it! I think my e-mail address on here isn't my preferred one, so use chrisadcameron (at) gmail (dot) com.

And yeah, I meant sorta Salvador Dali like, at least just a little or to draw inspiration from. Just a suggestion at least, look up some of his stuff (and watch the Birds biggrin.gif ) cause TBH, I think Tim Burton draws on him too some for inspiration as I do find similarities between the two, at least visual concept wise.
Rodney
I'll be honored to review anything you send my way.
The best advice I can give is to review your draft three times at least, for content, for flow and finally for proper formatting.
Order and refine the word pictures until the view relates precisely what you suppose it to say according to your interpretation.
And be mindful of the standard disclaimer; the value of opinion is variable.

In short, bring it on.

rodney.baker@gmail.com



Ilidrake
Checked out Salvador Dali art but I can't say that's the route I would take. Good inspiration though.
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