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May 21, 2011

Developing Story Class

With two studio classes and my midpoint presentation this semester, I knew that I wanted my third class to be one where I didn't have to draw so much.  So I decided to take Developing Story from the Motion Pictures and Television department.  And boy was that a great move! (no sarcasm implied)  As you might suspect, Developing Story focuses on story telling and development.  Simple story structure.  I've got so many great handouts on story, now!  Totally worth it.  The instructor, Donna Laemmlen, was also incredibly warm and supportive of all the class's crazy ideas, as well as being a fan of animated films.  During the semester, she actually won an award from the International Family Film Festival for the animated feature screenplay she wrote, "Sheila, the Gila Monster", and was kind enough to show it to us, along with some of the character sketches she had had created.  Very cool!

The class itself, as far as assignments go, was composed of developing two short film stories, both of which had to be pitched to the class and one of which had to be pitched as the final to two "industry insiders" (whom were just teachers at the school, come to find out).  For the pitches, I actually developed some visuals, so I thought I'd post them here, along with a brief synopsis of the stories themselves.

"A Little Dastardly"
Logline: A dastardly, reformed villain wants to settle down with his family, but his old nemesis isn't ready to move on.

A little backstory: two super villains (above, left) were frustrated that their evil schemes to thwart the city's resident hero (right) never came to fruition.  Tired with failure, they get drunk and grumble of their misfortunes.  The night leads to unexpected relations, and nine months later, a child (little dude in the middle, right) comes to be.  The villains realize that this is their chance to reform their evil ways and hopefully be more successful with a "normal" domestic life.

The story itself begins with the child, now grown a bit, playing in a suburbia backyard sandbox.  We quickly realize that this child is a real devil child, making a mess and terrorizing the neighbor's cat.  When the neighbor complains, the child is sent to his room.  The parents cram into a closet to discuss their choices in giving up the super villain life.  The closet, it turns out, is actually an elevator to a secret sub-basement where the villains have created a museum of sorts to remember and preserve their old evil memories.  As they're discussing the possibilities of the son of two super villains ever not being villainous, there is a knock at the door.  The villains go up to answer it, assuming it is yet another neighbor coming to complain of their son's misdeeds.  Just before the villain can grab the door knob, however, BAM!  The door flies open, blasting the villains to the ground.  In flies the hero, shouting his catchphrase: "Justice has found you!"  He begins pummeling the villains, who are simply no match, having been caught by surprise and being years out of shape.  As the hero is about to deliver the final blow and final bring these evil doers to justice, ZAP!  The hero falls to the ground.  The villains, look at each other in shock, then turn their attention over the befallen hero to the other side of the room.  There, they find their son standing with a laser gun.  He was able to achieve what the two of them never could, and they realize that maybe being bad isn't so bad after all.
Original Sketches

"The Truth Was Out There"

Logline: A world-famous archaeologist is about to finish writing his memoir, but not everyone wants the details of his life's discoveries revealed.
We open inside a massive, "Citizen Kane"-like mansion where there is a knock at the door.  An old man slowly makes his way to answer it.  In walks a middle-aged man who questions why he has been called in at such a late hour.  We discover that the old man is writing his memoirs, but his age prevents him from being able to type, leading to the hiring of the younger man as a transcriber.  As the two men walk to the old man's office, we learn that his partner, another famous archaeologist, has just passed away.  The old man has decided that he has some new things to add to the memoir he has almost finished.
We flash back as the archaeologist dictates the story of what would've been his most famous, world-changing discovery.  It was the big fish that got away, though the old man can no longer recall specific details of the discovery.  His age has gotten the best of him.  But he does know that the discovery was quite revelatory, because as the two archaeologists were leaving, they were confronted by a man in a black trench coat.
Revealing little of who he was, who had sent him, or how he found out about the two men's work, this man made them an offer they couldn't refuse.  Giving them the choice of life or death, the man in the black trench coat claims he will make them rich and famous if they simply leave this site and never return or speak of it again.  The two men accepted his terms, and his promises held true.
At this point, the transcriber stops the old man short, and believing him to be delusional, tells him to get some sleep.  He says he will return in the morning to discuss the additions further.  The old man begrudgingly agrees and sees the younger man off.  He heads to his room to retire for the night.
The old man crawls into bed and turns out the light.  From the shadows steps forth a man in a black trench coat.
Original Thumbnail Sketches
Both of the stories were well-received in class and I hope to one day work on them more.  Maybe I will put together a short story book that I can illustrate?  Only time will tell.


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