Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Calculating A Story's Worth

A couple of posts ago I went on to say I'm going ahead with the Magic Show project. I think I mentioned there were various pros to this story: it features more escalation than any of the other stories I had conjured up at the time (including the climax when he accidentally saws the lady in half - it seems that physical gags like this can do a beginner a lot of good), and then there's the general feel I have about it (that this minute-long short will be fun to do and a challenge as well).

Now that I've started, however, I am already having some doubts. (Thus, the purpose of this entry is to tackle these doubts by strengthening either the story or the existing visuals in my animatic).

Who is my character, exactly? I've set him up in my head as this proud, egotistical magician who gets knocked down a few notches when his tricks go wrong - but where is his background evident in my story? Where can the audience find that annoyed feeling that they're looking at someone who is really pompous? Why are they invested in watching him fail his tricks?

Another issue dealing with character: a lot of short films I've liked involve a character who I can identify with, even if their situation is entirely unique to them. Somehow the animator (or film maker) has injected some universal personality traits or a couple seconds of empathy (or empathetic humor, in this case) so that by the end the viewer buys the story and wants a resolution.

While I wanted elements of my short to act like a 'gag reel,' I want to show some decent acting ability simultaneously. This will be difficult, because my character is already acting. He's on a stage, performing for viewers in his audience, which is unfolding in front of my audience. Immediately his acting will appear somewhat phony simply because he is onstage the entire time (until he is arrested). My audience won't know whether they really know the real magic man, because he is already putting on a show.

I'm going to have to do my research and watch Will Arnett tackle his character Job Bluth on Arrested Development. I think he does a good job of showing his character's true personality even during his magic shows - he begins with a very staged appearance, but at various times during the show, his true self leaks through when he is embarrassed or when things go wrong. I'll have to refer back to season 1 though, since once again I don't want my audience to have to rely on a particular back story. Everything will have to be implied through his nature.

I haven't given him any dialogue either. And I don't mind... Pantomime is said to be a great way to get in the door... but I really do like lip synching, so I may find a line or two that will help his personality shine through. On the whole, in the end, it's better to imply that kind of thing rather than to say it out loud... but maybe something appropriate will crawl out of my brain one of these days.

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