Thursday, June 24, 2010

Patience Bearing on the Unendurable

Creamers is an animated tale of one woman’s desperate attempt to stimulate her mind while her body works overtime on a night shift hand painting cream jugs.
Synopsis NFB Investigate 1996


This is how I broke my idea down for my NFB investigate, the hoop jumping paper I had to write to secure my next level of funding. It represents the spine of the story, the small charcoal drawings I used as headers to illustrate each story section were exhibited as part of a group show called Moving Images shown in 2002 at Art Beatus.

The protagonist’s task is animation in every aspect except it's literal portrayal. Our heroine suffers the symptoms that all animators share at one point, boredom and monotony. Many aspects of animation require the hand but not the mind. Production artists try to find creative ways to alleviate this and in my heroine’s case it is the trips she makes with her imagination that keep her going.

Whatever I coughed up worked and I got my development money from the NFB and found my co-writer, the wonderful Rondel Reynoldson. With lofty ideas of an improvisational Mike Leigh style writing method, we exchanged every funny annoying and rude workplace story that came to mind. Over the next 3 weeks, Rondel and I laughed our way to a 23 minute script, an army of characters with a few naughty bits thrown in to shake things up.

Our ‘final’ script slowly meandered through the bureaucratic ooze that was (and may still be) the production pipeline of the NFB. It was met with some delight, a little horror, but mostly anxiety at its bloated scope. Understandably they were concerned that I was biting off more than I could chew.
To make a long story short, we parted company. I paid my buck for the production rights and I set out on my own to hack and slash my way through this monster story. Characters and scenes dropped like flies and it was relatively painless to get from 23 minutes to 15. The next 5 were brutal. Stacks of index cards were arranged and rearranged on the floor in a vain hope that they would reveal the story nugget like some prophesy hidden in tealeaves. More character deaths ensued and I eventually arrived at ‘final’ script number 4, today’s 10 minute , 3 character, 362 story panel epic.