Saturday, November 26, 2011

Animation 101: More Thoughts on Story..

Story is the buzzword of the film world. Every Tom Dick and Harry wields it like a un-stoppable creative weapon. How many times have you heard the phrase "You don't have anything if you don't have a good story"..  I submit that story is merely one key element of making a film, it shares the stage with Character, Timing, and Aesthetic. I've been dealing with a lot of "Story", both with my own film "Pull" and with my Tisch students Thesis productions. It's a tricky little subject that all too many people get carried away with. Last month I posted a four part series on the subject, part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
My latest film "Pull" is rolling along, aiming for a March 2012 release.

I believe the fixation on story is a product of not understanding the other three elements. It's also a typical buzz-word because it's often perceived as the first step of the process. The truth is that an "image" is typically the impetus for a film. For example Ridley Scott began the story process of "Gladiator" with the famous painting by Gerome. Read my entry on this topic here.

The famous painting of a Gladiator by Gerome. In an interview, Ridley Scott admitted that this was the inspiration for "Gladiator."

Story is skeletal.. Character is flesh. The flesh covers the bones, not the other way around. It is vital to shroud your story with character, timing, emotion, subtleties, and an aesthetic to unite it all. There should not be a tiny bit of white bone showing. The story is there to serve the Characters, to give them a context, a situation. The Characters will and must exist without the story. This is why "Establishing the Norm" is so important in storytelling.

If we were a walking Short Film:
-Story would be our Skeleton, it's our framework.
-Character is our flesh, consistent and always working.
-Aesthetic is our health, how we present ourselves.
-Timing is our speech, our skill of communication.


  1. Wow. I love this post. Thanks for sharing it, it's a really strong point.