Thursday 3 February 2011

Initial Ideas

I'm happy with my designated story components and I'm sure there is a kooky story to link them all together. I've talked it over with my writing partner John Pearmain who has already helped me refine and add to my ideas. We had a brainstorm session and I briefed him on my initial idea which is as follows......

1) I pictured opening with a cartoon-like plane flying over the ocean. The plane is part of a travelling circus carrying the circus folk to their next show. On board there is some kind of commotion , causing the plane to crash "Castaway" style. The contortionist is the only survivor. One day a vending machine washes ashore and using some other clown props, he uses it as a raft to escape.

2) For my second idea, I really tried to think about my contortionist and what would give him / her more personality. Obviously contortionists are very flexible, young and fit. I thought it would be ironic if he or she was a retiring contortionist, old and frail who dreams of retiring to a desert island, but to do so must complete one last job of fitting into a vending machine.

From these two ideas, John really responded to the second one, we were on same page in terms of the style of the character, going for a cartoony feel, with really bendy limbs and joints. We discussed the best way to join the three together which seems natural, John suggested that the contortionist could get trapped in the vending machine somehow, stealing from it? This gave me another idea which developed into my third concept....

3) Developing my character further, I thought of him as a criminal contortionist, who also dreams of retiring to a desert island. The minute animation will follow him on his last heist, but he get's caught out by the police, so he has to hide in a vending machine... certain jokes can derive from this. A police man could get something out of the machine not realizing he's in it.

Interested to hear from other people and their thoughts. It's interesting to see how the story has evolved from just an initial chat with John. Any ideas welcome.


  1. It seems to me that one man's struggle to retrieve the contents of a vending machine, thus requiring him to become a contortionist (as opposed to him actually 'being' a contortionist from the outset) is a bit of a gift. I don't think it would be a cheat in this instance if the character assumed the role during the course of the story, as opposed to being a stage performer in that sense. You know, maybe, your story idea is wonderfully simple; let's imagine for a moment, that your character is simply a poor, bastard castaway, and the action starts when we wakes up ashore; he's ragged and thirsty, and the island is a classic 'all sand, one palm tree' affair; the sun beats down, he get's thirstier and thirstier, and then, a vending machine materialises out of the heat haze; he goes to it - there's one can of ice cold fizz left in the topmost corner of it; what follows is your character's increasingly manic and contorted efforts to retrieve the can... of course, your three act story might have a funny punchline; obviously, the vending machine is a mirage - if so, what exactly has your character just climbed inside...?

  2. Hi Phil, yeah I absolutely love this idea the more I think about it the more it all makes sense and slots everything into place. I want to run with it, however, I don't know, I guess I feel kind of guilty I guess as it isn't really my idea...

  3. It's an execution issue, Paul; this idea could have easily come from your writing partner - or anyone else for that matter. Don't get hung up on it - it's not 'mine' at all; increasingly, you'll work with your tutors as more like 'creative partners' on this course - it's the whole collaborative thing. Besides, there are a million and one ways you might visualise this story; there are entire issues of style (what is the aesthetic universe of this story - is it classic Loony Tunes or is it Ren & Stimpy? Is it Pixar/Disney or is it 'rubber hose' style (Check out rubber hose-style animation). Remember you're preproducing your story idea in its entirety - including environments, props, characters etc - the works - and, okay, you've got the set-up (Act 1), but Act 2 (the escalation effect as your character tries ever more desperately to access the vending machine) and the precise nature of Act 3 remain a mystery... progress with gusto and flair, Paul. Enjoy yourself :D