50 Days of Summer (Including budget and cool stuff)
We’ve been silent, September is upon us, but we’ve been busy.
- Anthony has been on a chara’ design frenzy, adding 10 new characters to our Work In Progress roaster
- Jerzy has been busy designing a new way to create automatic shading on characters
- I’ve been traveling to Poland to work on the story & schedule with him
- And much more
Wanna get the gritty details? Just click the button and see what’s all it’s about!
Anthony has been working hard on designing new characters, most of them not yet in the screenplay. “Wait what?” You might say. Well they already are in the screenplay, but they are not named nor have any significance. But they’ll have some soon as I’m working on milking the script and preparing a third draft closer to what the movie will be.
If you look closely above, you’ll see that some of the characters are not new, but its their debut in color. More than just drafting out new characters, we’ve been working on their color, to see how it could fit the moods of our little universe. Of course, the watercolor look is not what we have in mind for the movie, we’ll be very far away from that, but still, it gives an overall feeling of where we’re going, and what we’re looking for. Fear not, the final movie will be more saturated. In fact, the colored version of the header frame is much more vibrant than the characters you’re looking at right now.
That brings me to the two frames Anthony worked on. We’re not yet trying to picture out the framing of some shots of the movie, but more trying to get a sense of what the movie will feel like.
On the first one, you have a look at most of the characters, with the “good” guys on the left, and the “bad” guys on the right. I call them good/bad just for easiness, but it’s more complex than that. Even if we’re a satirical comedy, our main characters psychology is more akin to Miyazaki’s style rather than the good old obvious Disney dichotomy. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just not what we’re aiming for. On this picture you can feel the energy, the density and the upcoming mayhem.
On the second frame, we tried to capture a more subtle irony, with the priest heavily focused on a special version of the Bible to the extent that he doesn’t notice his cathedral burning. Like the first frame, it’s not an actual scene of the movie (even though there are, at some point, some stuff on fire) but more a hint at what we want to do. It’s still very early, and is not at all representative of the final look, style or theme of the movie, but it’s a start.
Meanwhile in Poland…
Jerzy is always a busy man. When he is not touring his country with Edu Web, he is designing new tools to figure out solutions to complexe situations that are easy to play with for the creative teams.
Called Toon Shader, you can have a quick look at what does the prototype version 4.
Only Edouard and the Scream-look-a-like killer are characters from the movie, the others are from mysterious projects not related to Mythomen. It’s still in early stages of development, but already an awesome tool.
The ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Cage
While Jerzy was experimenting with a lot of cool stuff, I couldn’t resist to take the plane from my beloved Paris to his beloved Warsow for a full hard week of work on the movie, at the sound of Tenacious D complete Masterwork. We love Tenacious D so much (Anthony too) that maybe it’ll soon become a requirement to join the team.
During this week of work, we locked the budget of the movie, based on a breakdown of the second draft. Even if the next versions of the screenplay will feature improvements, change in scenes, the most important things (cost wise) such as the number of character and the number of locations shouldn’t move that much. The budget will be refined along the way, but we should be pretty safe saying that we’ll need no more than half a million dollar.
Yes, $500.000,00 which is a big and a small number at the same time. 2D animated features in the US have budgets ranging around $50M and in Europe around $5M. We’re well under that, but we aim at a production value of at least $20M. In the other hand, $0.5M is a big sum when you’re an indie with no prior “big hit” to attract high net worth people.
If you’re like us, developing an indie movie (animation or not) and are looking for financing, I highly recommend Tom Malloy’s book: Bankroll 2nd Edition, A new approach to financing feature films. A lot of valuable informations are in it, and it’s really easy to read.
So half a million is our sweet spot. Of course, we do have fallback plans if we don’t manage to get that amount of money, but we’re pretty confident that we will. We have a lot of leads we want to explore, plus some cool ideas that could potentially be economically interesting too.
But money is not the only thing that matters. If we don’t have the good tools, we won’t get anywhere. Sure you can buy tools with money, but we’d rather directly put food on our creatives’s table with our money. So we had to figure out plans and ways to get them. We are about to close a deal with two major companies that’ll be sponsoring our movie. How awesome is that?
While I was in Poland, we drove for two hours toward south to meet with our beloved composer, Piotr Musial. This guy is so fricking talented. Jerzy and I both worked with him several years ago on different project. He blown our hears away. He has this amazing power to read your mind when you describe him what you want, what you need and what you’d like it to sound like. We got him hooked on the project with our ambitious vision, where music is key to the storytelling and not just a backdrop thingy to make you cry with over-the-top violins.
Having spent almost 2 month without reading it, just writing down random thoughts and our brainstorming sessions in Poland, was a blast. I managed to have a complete fresh look at it, and even if the rewrite is going to be heavier than expected, it will really turn it to something worthy of watching. It really feels like I made a breakthrough, and I’m lovin’ it.
One major thing I did to drive my brain away, was to read, watch and play a lot. I read books about marketing, editing, writing, producing, financing. I watched good old dear awesome movies, new ones, even more awesome ones, and some great tv series too. And I played Watch Dogs to try to achieve that 100% completion. The game is not stellar, not even good, but still, enjoying it. Also played some cool indie titles, thanks to Kickstarter. If you haven’t played it yet, I more than Highly recommend Broken Age from Double Fine. In fact, I highly recommend anything from Double Fine. They have this magic power of turning incredibly cool ideas into awesome products.
Having your brain shifts his focus away from the script while being entertained is a good way to refill the creative batteries. At least, it works for me.
I also discovered Tony Zhou on Vimeo. He is an editor, and he makes very interesting videos about movie making, and more importantly editing. He does that by analyzing the work of some very talented directors (and a less talented one too), and compiling his discoveries in 8 minutes shorts, so well narrated and edited that you’ll want him to editor your next movie. Through his videos, you can see that he does have a very clear view of what should editing be as an art form. I can’t recommend watching all of them enough.
I always loved Edgar Wright‘s movie making, from the Cornetto Trilogy to Scott Pilgrim, without forgetting Spaced. I was always amazed at how funny these movies were in all their little details. Seriously, go watch Scott Pilgrim and experience it for yourself. The movie’s dynamic is incredibly fast & furious, while being perfectly clear. And it was until I saw Tony Zhou video about Edgar Wright’s Visual Comedy that I could put two words on what I loved in his movies: Visual Comedy.
Our movie is full of jokes, funny dialogues and to some extent, visual comedy. But I’m not pushing it up to 11 yet, because I didn’t knew how. And that’s what makes me happy about writing the third draft: now that I had this epiphany, I can. And believe me, that little Tony Zhou video made me write down 3 full pages of notes (plus it made me notice that now that At World’s End was released, I needed to buy the whole Cornetto Triolgy in Bluray. Yep, I did bet that HD DVD would win the battle of Hi-Def when I got Shaun & Hot Fuzz).
On a side note, if you love animation, visual comedy, action & awesomeness: go watch The LEGO Movie.
Last but not least
I’m joining Redefinery (the AE developer behind the AE scripting) in his #devforacause adventure, by donating 25% of all the proceedings from Storyboarding & SaveCompAsProject to Child’s Play (a charity created by Penny Arcade dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in hospitals worldwide).