Ideation Process: Story development

While trying to create a story for our short we first looked at existing funny characters that could influence our ideation process, the type of character we like and choose may influence the overall route of the story and in turn, the style and type of environment.

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Russell, Up: The Wilderness Explorer.

“He’s spinning and moving, so we designed him more like a top or a balloon.” -Pete Docter, Director.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/movies/17murph.html?_r=1&

Professor Archimedes Q. Porter, Tarzan: The eccentric scientist and professor who travels to Africa to study gorillas.

archimedes-tarzan

We discussed having a character who is an adventurer, a traveller and the idea of our short covering the topic of jungle mishaps… for example…

  • The character is busy cutting his way through the thick foliage of the jungle with a machete – he walks straight off the edge of a cliff.
  • The character stops to admire a plant, it’s carnivorous and eats him…

These examples better explain the quick comedy style that we are aiming for. As we were thinking about a jungle explorer the two characters above came to mind:

I adore the personality of Russell – he has the traits of a real 8 year old boy: he’s hyperactive, loud, highly strung and curious, Pixar have created a really likeable character through his personality and behaviour. His character reminds me of someone with a dry sense of humour.. some of the things he says he doesn’t mean to be funny or even realise what they actually mean…

From the clips above it’s easer to imagine a character similar to Russell wandering through the jungle and experiencing a few traumatic mishaps along the way.

I’ve included an image of the Professor from Tarzan as I admire the design of this character, his clothing style and age fit perfectly with his slightly doo-lally and eccentric personality. It’s easier, and some what more humorous, with this character to imagine him getting himself into a spot of bother in the jungle: he’s older, so he should know better but with his bumbling personality it would be a lot funnier than a child, like Russell, getting into trouble.

This then lead us on to a discussion of multiple destinations and environments, an adventurer exploring the extreme environments …the Desert, the Arctic, Space, Deep sea, this would give us a bit more variety to work with the jokes/mishaps as a new environment would allow for different situations to arise. We also considered environments that an average person could relate to such as the workplace eg, a building site or even in the household – somewhere accidents happen all the time. A reference for the everyday environment would be Boo from Monster’s Inc, she manages to cause an uproar and a few mishaps in the monsters workplace without any intention to…

Another aspect we need to consider is, will the character die repeatedly?

I do like the idea of following the same character throughout and as a group this seems to be what we are naturally heading towards but what we need to consider is if the character will always die at the end of each scenario, like Death in Space and Dead Moon Walking.

Having the character die each time would be a good way to define the different scenarios, as it’s a quick and easy way of conveying to the audience the end of each ‘mishap’ however, having this repetition means that each clip would need to be as funny as the last or the audience could get bored easily: if the jokes don’t stand out then all the audience is going to remember watching is the character dying over and over again.

With that repetitive factor the jokes would need to be quick and snappy to get a sense of rhythm into the compilation. With ‘death in space’ each scene is a similar length creating a rhythm to the video, the audience starts to anticipate the beginning of a new scene. Each of the Dead Moon Walking scenes lasts roughly 19 seconds, so timing is an aspect we are really going to have to concentrate on if we want to be successful with the comedy.

Another idea brought up was narration, similar to that of Fallout, involving mishaps in the normal world but with a completely random twist. eg. Character centre frame looking like he’s been in some sort of explosion… [Narrator] ‘Jimmy tried to make popcorn.. with gasoline.. cuts to animation of Jimmy making his popcorn… *boom* cuts back to character post popcorn explosion [narrator] ‘don’t be like Jimmy’. This compilation would show the various mishaps that our character gets up to in everyday life, the challenge with this idea would be coming up with relatable activities (such as making popcorn) juxtaposed with things that any normal person would know not to do (use gasoline). However we felt that this idea would get a little repetitive and could possibly even bore the audience? Could we instead set up one joke so that the audience will think they know what’s coming next but end with another? Similar to the ending of Mac and Cheese, the Cyanide and Happiness shorts and Dead Moon Walking…

At the moment we are very much still in the ideation process, we know that we want to create a series of short, funny, animated episodes, we want to push ourselves in terms of how many episodes can we make… We want to follow the same character throughout the episodes and ultimately we want to make the audience laugh.

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