adventure and absurdity in making an animated short

Monday, January 12, 2009

10 things I've learned in making a short film: # 9

9) Keep it Simple
If I had to do it all over again I probably wouldn't make a fully animated, hand drawn, 8 minute short. A nice 4 minute short done in a designy limited style feels good to me right now. I never expected it would take me 10 years to make the film. This isn't to say that in the end I regret doing it. It is good to be naive. I read once that when you make a film make it as if you are 16. You don't know any better and you have all the energy of a 16 year old. But wisdom is important too and in that 10 year time I could have made more films if I set out with a simpler form of animation. I could have told more stories and made more mistakes. So, especially to those in school and to those perpetual learners out there don't bite off too much. In other words a doable idea. Try to come up with an idea that fits into your lifestyle with very minimal impact. Not the next Toy Story or Lawrence of Arabia. Citizen Kane or Princess Mononoke. The idea is to make many films, learn from them, and hopefully not just one film. So you don't have to put everything into this one masterpiece.


10) Perfection doesn't exist

That's another thing, get it out of your head that your film has to be perfect.


Blogger TS said...

Yeah... I totally agree. I think setting limits and goals is the best way to approach a subject. If you aren't careful you can very easilly let things spin out of control. A lot of students have this problem. They start work on a film thinking that they are making a feature only to find out that they are trying to Make Lord of The Rings when they should be making something akin to Luxo Jr. One of my teachers put it best: if you can't describe your film to someone in under one or two sentences you probably don't have a clear concept of what you are trying to do. So not only do you need to keep the production simple but you need to keep the concept simple as well. One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is designing overly complicated characters.

Thanks for posting: I love talking about this stuff!

8:40 PM  
Blogger Rob K said...

Hey Jim, I got to your post via cartoonbrew. I loved your top 10 list and being a fellow film maker 3 years into mine I totally see everything that you are talking about. I feel like until you actually make something not as part of a lesson or a degree or for a company it gives you perspective on making a film that other animators who do the job or are in school don't realize. Its almost like doing battle on a daily basis.

Now for me I just finished rough animation and now I am getting feedback and commentary from 6 people, 1 critic, 2 animators, a live action film maker and 2 lay people. So far the comments have been great, not great as in all flowers, mostly things pointed out that I am blind to.

For me the 5 minutes a day thing was the biggest deal. While I was animating for 18 months I would get up an hour or two earlier 5 days a week and work before going off to my job. On top of that I would work at lunch as well. I think these things helped me meet my goals.

I am guessing that you are near done, best of luck to you and your film!!

11:53 AM  
Blogger Hamish Beachman said...

Hey Jim
Great posts. I am doing my own animated film and its amazing how much of what you have posted rings true with me. Thanks for taking the time to articulate the process for all of us.

3:02 AM  
Blogger JmC said...

TS - well said. one follows the other a simple idea will lead to a simple production. i think people (especially students) try to make epics because they are afraid and concentrating on the wrong thing - to look better then the other guy - If people just concentrated on the making of the thing, that experience, not what it would get them, then they would naturally make a simpler film.

thanks for your thoughtful comment

Rob K - you're doing it. keep at. be brutal on yourself though. if you are getting critque now after rough animation is done you may justify not changing something because you don't want to do the work. this is a tough balance. be honest with the piece. let it tell you what needs to be done.
i look forward to seeing your film. Best of luck!

Hamish - Thanks, these are things I learned and I am sure many people out there have had their own journey through this. In different and similar ways but it is always inspiring to read about this stuff. It's been nice to hear that I am not the only one. best of luck to you and your film.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Andre Barnwell said...

"The idea is to make many films, learn from them, and hopefully not just one film. So you don't have to put everything into this one masterpiece."

I agree 100%.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Omar said...

Very helpful stuff!
As an aspiring 16 year old animator, you definately modivated me.
I think im going to work on a short thats been in my head for a while now.

11:48 AM  

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