Hi! i'm a senior animation major. Your film Breadheads was what initially got me interested in animation, and 4 years later, I'm here working on my degree project. I was wondering where you got your concept inspiration from, and if you could work me through the creative process of coming up with your idea? Any advice you have to give would be much appreciated. Thank you bunches
This sort of thing never stops being amazing to hear, so thank you for taking the time to tell me. I actually have someone whose senior film did the same for me when I was a senior in high school. I should probably tell them someday.
An embryonic version of Breadheads came from a nightmare I had the Summer before I started my senior film. I was a “breadhead” in the dream, but no one was actually turning into bread yet. The setting was different too, and the plot. Basically the dream only served as a jumping off point, I wanted to tell this semi cannibalism story. That ‘spark of inspiration’ is still where I start today. Sometimes it’s just an image, sometimes it’s a strong opinion, sometimes it’s something that happens to me, a friend’s life experience, or even another writer’s story I’ve heard and I loved the tone of. Maybe I want to try to tell a story that gives an audience the same feeling I had watching Twin Peaks, or capture the wry pacing of some George Saunders short story. Basically, I find something juicy that I want to tell a story about.
A big list of all those collected ‘sparks’ comes next. My favorite five story ideas go into loglines. To clarify, I mean one or two sentence summaries that sell the basic premise of the story, a Netflix description. It’s important for me to whittle that list down to five. This is both to figure out which stories I most want to see in the world, and to give the people I will pitch to a manageable amount to swallow. Then I pitch those few ideas to storyteller friends, to professors, to fellow filmmakers in my city who are willing meet with me over lunch. Even if you only have one idea to pitch, talking it out will help shape the foundation of the idea. If you have multiple, you get a feel for what people are responding to the most. There may be one idea that gets the most overall votes, or one that gets a lot of discussion going, or one you consistently tell the best. That idea wins the tournament.
Then you put the story down and revise. I write in script format now on personal projects, but at the time of Breadheads I wrote in storyboards and outlines. My outlines are a list of every scene and a brief description, but not every shot. Then I do loose, disposable storyboard thumbnails on small index cards, sticky notes, or digitally. I like to have the thumbnails on individual panels as opposed to one sheet of paper/document, so I can easily re-arrange, replace, and revise each beat as needed.
Then you revise and nail those story beats. This is the one thing that was missing from my process at the time. I could have saved myself a lot of work and made a better film making better choices cinematically in those storyboards. But, I felt rushed to get into animation. Breadheads, I think, had two storyboard passes, and I wish it’d had closer to five. Don’t dawdle on producing storyboards, but do a lot of iterations. Do a storyboard pass, pitch it to friends and professors, get notes, revise, start over if necessary. Near the end of Breadheads, through mutual friends, I was able to show my film to a Calarts Senior advisor who was near my school in Brooklyn for the day. I’m now friends with him, and could probably get a more candid critique from him, but at the time he just kept mentioning “I can see you really like your animation.” It was his polite way of saying that I could have been a lot more efficient with the storytelling. It was too late for him to really help me since storyboards were basically locked. I could have had even more beautiful, well animated scenes if I hadn’t had to waste so much time and energy on those shoe leather scenes that can be solved simply. So, get the staging, camera work, basic acting, pacing, and most importantly, story down in those boards. You’re on a limited schedule, so you have to say “good enough” at some point making a senior film. But, if you have to cut one stage short, don’t let it be boards.
Many people also suggested the same change to Breadheads and I didn’t listen. It is so small, but would have made a HUGE difference in the film. I rejected it because “it wasn’t how I saw the film,” which was really stupid. It’s important to trust your own vision as a filmmaker, but if you’re getting a similar note on a specific thing, it might be worth exploring. So, I also wish I was a better listener, one who was more willing to throw out and change moments.
Finally, make a tough schedule and stick to it, no matter what. The most important thing is that the film gets done. Both for your career and for you as an artist. LeSean Thomas talks about this idea of artists finishing projects at length, but the message is “you have to finish stuff, even if it sucks.” So be tyrannical with yourself about that schedule. It is possible to get almost any amount of animation done in a week. It may not turn out to be very good animation at a fast pace, but it is possible. So be realistic about your timeline, and only give yourself the time you have. You’re your own producer, designer, director, animator and schedule coordinator on a student film, so you have to be pragmatic. Let’s say you have 100 shots, and 25 weeks, then you know you have to finish four shots a week. Period. Give yourself a little cushion time, if you have 28 weeks, call it 25 when scheduling, because you’ll want to revisit stuff.
Making a film is a grind. Miyazaki famously says “filmmaking only brings suffering.” But I like to put one foot in front of the other until the work is done, because having made a film is a hell of a feeling.
'As I was going betwixt the towns (z.e.,farm stead-
ings) of Drumdeevin and The Heads, I met with the
Devil, and there covenanted in a manner with him ;
and I promised to meet him, in the night-time, in the
Kirk of Auldearn, which I did. And the first thing
I did there that night, I denied my baptism, and did
put the one of my hands to the crowm of my head,
and the other to the sole of my foot, and then
renounced all betwixt my two hands over to the Devil. He was in the Reader's desk, and a black book
in his hand. Margaret Brodie, in Auldearn, held me
up to the Devil to be baptized by him, and he marked
me in the shoulder, and sucked out my blood at that
mark, and spouted it in his hand, and, sprinkling it
on my head, said, " I baptize thee, Janet, in my own
name !" And within awhile we all removed. The
next time that I met with him was in the New
Wards of Inshoch. ... He was a mickle, black,
rough [hirsute] man, very cold; and I found his
nature all cold within me as spring- wall- water
Sometimes he had boots, and sometimes shoes on
his feet; but still his feet are forked and cloven. He
would be sometimes with us like a deer or a roe.
John Taylor and Janet Breadhead, his wife, in
Belmakeith, . . . Douglas, and I myself, met in the
kirkyard of Nairn, and we raised an unchristened
child out of its grave ; and at the end of Bradley's
cornfieldland, just opposite to the Mill of Nairn, we
took the said child, with the nails of our fingers and
toes, pickles of all sorts of grain, and blades of kail
[colewort], and hacked them all very small, mixed
together; and did put a part thereof among the
muck-heaps, and thereby took away the fruit of his
corns, etc., and we parted it among two of our Covins.
When we take corns at Lammas, we take but about
two sheaves, when the corns are full ; or two stalks of
kail, or thereby, and that gives us the fruit of the
corn-land or kail-yard, where they grew. And it
may be, we will keep it until Yule or Pasche, and
then divide it amongst us. There are thirteen persons
in my Covin.
'The last time that our Covin met, we, and another
Covin, were dancing at the Hill of Earlseat ...
•everything in existence
•people who talk fast
•slipknot (sit the fuck down)
•people who have weird noses or crooked teeth
•fuzz factory, whammy pedal, angel slide, double tapping, any weird guitar thing
instead of doing my summer assignment i’ve decided to do a follow forever! i really appreciate everyone i follow and their amazing ability to pick out v quality posts. all of you are cool af, congrats.