Originally posted on the MA Character animation course blog, published June 17th 2015.
I came up with the basic idea for my film during the Easter holidays after going to the London Metropolitan archives with Julie and some fellow students. Julie had already asked if any of the students with the time period 1822-1862 wanted to make a film about the nurses and after doing some research I started working on that.
Even though I find it very interesting storytelling is one of the things I find the hardest to understand. In my bachelor degree there were more focus on storytelling towards games, which is quite different from storytelling for film. In a game the player/audience has a interactive part in the story, which means that the story don’t necessary have to be completely straight forward or follow a specific pattern. Because of this I’m not very experienced with telling stories for film, but wanted to learn what it takes to tell a good story. We’ve had several workshops this year to help us out and I’ve enjoyed all of them. I’m feeling that I’m gradually getting somewhere, but I still struggle a bit. And during this St. Thomas’ Hospital project I’ve had to make changes to the story ending all the way up until the last rough crit.
My first ending was, as I see it now, way too general and hard to understand. I think this is what I find hardest when making a story, I find it hard to see what the audience is seeing. I’ve been told that I have to look at the animatic and imagine that I’ve never seen it and know nothing about the story, and I try to do that, but still I often think that the audience will be really smart and just get it. This is probably because I’ve done lots of research beforehand and because it’s my story the more I see it the more I distance myself from what an audience with no clue would see. I’ve therefore started to show my animatic to more people outside class like family and friends from the bachelor’s degree to see if they get it. And as with my classmates, teachers and the people that has been brought in to give us feedback I’m starting to see why I need to practice telling stories, I’ve had so many opinions on what they’ve thought that I was trying to tell and many of them were wrong!
My second attempt was close to the first one, but I used an idea that one of my classmates came up with during the first crit, to have the nurse put the thermometer in the flower instead of just looking confused at it. This was slightly more successful than the first one, but still there were some confusion. I wanted to include that the new nurses where just as clueless as the first ones as Julie had told me that this was important to the time period I was portraying. When showing this version at the rough crit I got an advice to bring back the patient that I had showed earlier and use both the patient AND the flower to show that the new nurses where clueless.
And I did! In my final solution which had to work as there were only three weeks to go, I brought back the patient and combined the two first attempts, making the nurse put the thermometer into the flower and giving the confused look to the patient instead. Then I contacted some not very close friends on Facebook and asked them to take a look to see if it was understandable now, and they understood it! Finally success!
What I’ve learned from this and will bring with me to later projects is that the storytelling part is both important and hard to get right, and that for the next projects I have to be prepared to make changes as although the general idea can be right from the start, the way of telling it effectively and in an understandable way can take much more time and effort than I originally thought.