A Dreamer Walking

Foundations

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on July 28, 2011

Foundations consist of the core values in your films. They represent what you want your movie to be about. The stronger you make the foundations of your story the stronger of a film you will have. I have found my faith to be a help to me in understanding what is important in the stories I am developing. I want each one of my stories to reflect values that are important to my God. However, I am not saying you need to become a Christian to create strong foundations, but you do need to figure out where you stand and what you want to communicate before you embark on creating or telling a story.

David Fincher, who I mostly disagree with when it comes to political and moral issues, is very adamant on figuring out the reason for each word in the script he is about to shoot. He spends several weeks just talking to his screenwriter about what both of them feel are the foundations of the story and how the screenplay reflects those foundations. Because David has put a lot of thought into his movies, films like Se7en, Fight Club, and The Social Network make statements not easily ignored by society. They make you see dark truths about society. He has shown how we as society are inclined to sacrifice friendship for power, meaning for safety, and morality for comfort. It does not matter if I agree with his personal view of the world or not. I am forced to think about the statements his films make because they have conviction behind them.

I believe the foundations of a film should represent things you believe in your heart are true. The filmmaker needs to let these truths lead his or her way. Even though Fincher concentrates on the evils of society his foundations and the points he makes feel real and truthful because they are real and speak the truth to him. It is all about knowing you believe in what your film is saying and being committed to to that belief.

The bottom line is you need to know why you are making the film you are making. As Andrew Stanton (Writer/Director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E) says, you need to know the punchline of the joke in order to know how to set the joke up.  The foundations might not come right away. You can’t know everything you want to say in a film until you begin to make it. However, work from the parts of the film that seem to work the best for you, that stay the same all the way through development. Those parts are usually the parts that represent your films foundations.

I have written papers on the the foundations of each one of my stories I have been developing. Through figuring out what I feel is most important to my stories I began to realize what needs to stay and what needs to go. I think films should be more then just a piece of entertainment. I think they should be something that sticks with the audience far after they leave the movie theater. If you build your stories on strong foundations they will last far longer then any lifetime.

Invisible Ink-Beginnings

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on April 4, 2011

I just started reading this insightful book by Brian McDonald called Invisible Ink (Click on the title to go to the Amazon page). In a effort to understand the book to a fuller extant I am going to start a series on what I have personally gotten out of reading each chapter. So each one of the posts that come from me studying this book will start with the title “Invisible Ink”. However, my goal is not to copy and paste from the book. My goal is to use this blog as a testing device to see if I am able to own the material I am reading and give you my personal perspective on what Invisible Ink means.

I have found most of the lessons in this book, so far, are not new to me. However, Brian has expressed them in such a structured way that I have found them easier to understand.

As Brian McDonald puts it, “Invisible ink is the writing below the surface of the words”. It is crucial before we get too far into the facts of the story we are creating, we think about the meaning behind it. When we are able to figure out the meaning of our story everything else starts to fall into place. Film is not just made up of duologue and the dialogue we do see can never be taken at face value.

All the obvious points of a story need to have a greater meaning that are not obvious to the audience. When we look at a movie like Pixar’s Up, we don’t just see a story about a old man flying his house with balloons. We see a story about a man who wants to go on an adventure and flies away in his house because he wants to get away from the rest of the world. In essence the flying house represents a need to be alone along with a need to uproot oneself from tradition in order to experience the world or life in general in a new way. The grand adventure the old man Carl and his neighbor Russell go on is only a story device to make them, along with the rest of the audience, understand the beauty of the quite moments in life.

The underline meaning of a story is much more difficult for one to figure out. But here lies the key to great storytelling. The true beauty of a story comes from the invisible ink. It comes from the things that are not necessarily said but are communicated through the foundations of the story and characters you have created.

You as a person might be able to talk the smooth talk and have all the right looks on the outside. However, if what you say and what you do does not ring true with others on the inside you will quickly be forgotten. The same concept goes with storytelling.

Walt Disney: The Inspiration for Great Animation

Posted in Film and Filmaker Studies by Jacob on November 23, 2010

Here is a LINK to a letter that Walt Disney wrote to Don Graham, a art teacher from Chounaird Art Institute. Don was given the daunting task of leading art classes for Disney Animators. Walt was dedicated to perfecting the art of animation. He knew the better artists he had the better films he would produce. This letter shows you some of the things he wanted Don to teach his artists. Walt and his wife would often personally give artists rides to these classes since it was in the middle of the depression and few people had transportation of their own back then.

Many people have a hard time with Walt because they say he was not really a good artist. Walt was not very talented at painting or drawing. He stopped animating entirely in the late 1920’s. Walt did not create any of the beautiful drawings you see in so many of the “art of Disney” books. He didn’t even bring a pencil to his storyboard meetings.

However, this letter makes you realize that Walt knew his art form. Walt basically lays out the foundations of animation in this letter. He was not good at drawing, but he did know the animation medium. Walt knew how to direct his animators. He knew how to inspire them. With Walt you got more then the basic drawing that might inspire a way to animate a character or go about creating a scene. With Walt you had someone who could inspire whole films. His imagination produced literally millions of drawings and tons of classical films. Yes, his artists were the ones who did the drawings and without them the movies couldn’t be made. However, Walt was the person who drove everyone forward. He literally had hundreds of artists who woke up wanting to go to work each day because of his imagination and love for their medium.

Some of the greatest animated movies ever made were inspired by Walt Disney. Walt is a perfect example of not needing to be able to draw or paint in order to be a great artist. I think you will find his letter very insightful and inspiring. It was written in 1935. It is pretty cool when you realize Walt is laying out what became the philosophy behind the great animation you see in Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, and all the other Disney films that have come out since.

Depressed

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 17, 2010

This is a drawing I did about a year ago. It was a quick sketch but I ended up liking it quite a bit. Just lines from a Precise V5 pen that created a sort of mood and feeling that has the potential to impact a person.

Foundations

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on May 30, 2010

I have been going over all my major story ideas and writing a paper on each of their foundations. I think that is is crucial for you to have strong convictions on what your films foundations are in order to make a good movie. There many good filmmakers out there, some who are very talented when it comes to cinematography, action sequences, music, and acting. But, if you do not have strong story foundations your film will not last.

Conviction is key to making a good story foundation. I have found that my stories are strongest when I am able to draw from real life. I have many convictions in life that I think is essential to express in my films. In no way am I asking anyone to be “preachy”, but do not make the mistake of being shallow. You need to be able to respect your audience, being “preachy” would not show much respect at all, you can not go about having your character telling the audience what exactly to think. However, being shallow is showing just as little respect, I have a duty as a filmmaker to not undermined my audience intellect.

I think it is important for me as a filmmaker to give the audience something to think about. I do not want the first thought after watching my movie to be, “What should we go get to eat?”. I want my films to make people think, make them ask questions and see stuff in a different light. All this happens if you have strong foundations. I have stories that deal with discrimination, addiction, and loss. I must do my research on these issues, I must be able to find places in real life to draw from so that I truly have something to say about these issues. Strong foundations are not easy to come by, it takes a lot of effort. However, your story will only be as strong as your foundations.