Unlucky – Lessons Learnt Week1-Week10

Unlucky is the title for the short film I am working on. Its a 6 month long short film, which has effectively been reduced to 3 month long film right now :)…  I decided to put together all the problems I faced so that I could go back and look at it and learn form my mistakes.

Story Development:

This probably is the most difficult of all stages.  The basic idea was, “how an average day proves to be extremely unlucky for a guy.”

I started out with the concept of a janitor who is cleaning up a conference room. He is so good at his job that tidying things is second nature to him. Its almost as if the cleaning tools listen to his whim and fancy. And then when he think all is well, a bulb in the room flickers. No big deal for our hero right? but then he faces unimaginable problems in just trying to change this bulb. So the idea was to show how if it is your day you could almost do impossible stuff with ease. But if it is not your day, you better tuck your tail under and sit it out till the cloud passes.

I developed a small storyboard and showed it around to people. they failed to understand my story miserable. I realised I sucked at story telling.

further discussions and the story went through some changes. The gags escalated in proportions. A new storyboard. The ideas were too overwhelming. The gags were funny by themselves, but in the context of the film and seeing them unfold one after the other made it boring. I still sucked at story telling.

More changes to story. More gags were developed. I even gave the janitor some special power in this world where he is the man in control of everything. Then this  power is snatched away from him when the light bulb starts to flicker. I was pretty happy with this story. I developed this idea further and had a solid story going on. Atleast that is what I thought!!!

I took this story to my story boarding professor who saw the storybaords and found a thousand loopholes int he story. The story just did not make sense. Reason? I was listening to too many people and making additions to my story which werenot really required. The story literally was going in 3 different ways. Is it just his bad day? or is the bulb evil and does it have a character of its own? or is the story about the character’s development as he realises his super power has been snatched away?

so I came back to my lab and sat down realising that the plan I had made with 2 weeks for story development was the biggest joke.  I was already in week 6 and I did not have a story. After giving things a thought, I knew my story had loopholes. So how to fix it? simple. pick up any one of the three lines in my story that my professor pointed out and stick to that. I decided to go with option 1. “Here is an ordinary guy doing his regular job and today is his bad day.” No magic, No super powers, no marvel comic stunts. So I now started to think along these lines and came up with a new story. This time I felt I really was making some progress. There were no unanswered questions, story moved ahead logically and ended with a bang. The story arc was perfect. The chartacter arc was perfect.

time to knock on the doors of the storyboarding professor again.

He loved it!!! ok, he liked it…. but let me have my fun here.  but he had a major problem with the story. (Not again!!!) He felt the story had so much going on that it would need a group of 3-4 people working for a year as their thesis project to complete it. I had to do it alone in 6 months. And this would be my first 3d movie. So, he did not see me go past my opening scene. Back to the lab. Back for more thinking.

Week8. I did some changes to my story and took out many gags, cut short the scenes to tell my story in 2 minutes. I dint have to go to my professor to see the new problem. The perfect story and character arcs I had were messed up now. The escalations in the gags were happening too much and too fast. The frustration built up in the character was also not warranted for.

Week9. More changes to story. This time the gags still look slightly out of place. But there comes a point when in life you draw a line and decide not to cross it even if tsunami was looming behind you. this was that line. I did not show my story to anyone else for any more feedback. for a week after that, whenever I happened to meet my professor in the hallway,  I always had a phone call to attend to, or a person I had not met for ages in that same hallway.

Week10. end of first quarter. half the time allotted for the movie is already gone. I only have a story with me. That also is not perfect. I hurried up and did a simple set model in maya.

At the end of week 10, I now have these:

1) Story

2) Storyboard

3) Set model

4) Set Texture

5) Basic Light setup

I just listed them on different lines so that it looks like I achieved more than I actually did  🙂

Well, onto more things.  I plan to list my progress here on a weekly basis. Look out for more


2 Comments to “Unlucky – Lessons Learnt Week1-Week10”

  1. Good luck!!! I like the story, and i am just the regular audience, who does not understand the technicalities behind animation. But hey… the audience is whom u want to impress right? Go for it!

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