The following is part 2 of the story of how Sword of Arreon got started. Read part 1 here
In addition to reading science fiction and fantasy novels, I also studied non-fiction. Since my picture was to be about an ancient sword, Riane Eisler‘s The Chalice and the Blade was an invaluable asset. Chronicling the rise of patriarchal society from a matriarchal one some 5,000 years ago, Eisler’s important work gave me much more than history about the invention of the sword. Her book went into depth about the intent behind the invention of the blade as life taking technology and the conflict between it and the life giving technology of the human female womb (the chalice). I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in changing the world for the better. It concisely states the essence of the problems all societies face today and points to a solution. In doing research on the history of swords, I discovered other interesting concepts which helped inform the story and cosmology of the picture.
I also needed to acquire certain specialized knowledge and technical skills in order to create my anime. I bought and read a book on writing original screenplays, gaining the understanding of why audiences watch movies and TV and how to write scripts that deliver what they want. Also, I bought and read a book on the process of anime production. It came from Japan, written in Japanese but filled with pictures and illustrations that explained some important concepts. For example, to draw a highlight such as the tip of a nose or corner on a box, you actually leave a blank point in your line work (see illustration). Another skill I needed to learn was marketing and publicity, and having researched what was the most current text on these subjects I found David Meerman Scott‘s The New Rules of Marketing and PR. In it, Scott explains how to advertise in todays world of people using Google to find what they want instead of learning about products and services through commercials and other ‘interruption-based’ methods. This blog was actually created according to knowledge gained from Scott’s book.
Finally, I am currently reading a book on film marketing and distribution which is proving to be very useful. Think Outside The Box Office, by Jon Reiss, details his experience as an independent film maker and offers information about best practices and the many different models of theatrical release. Especially interesting is the concept of transmedia storytelling, where the narrative extends out beyond the film into the video games, graphic novels and other platforms. This creates a convection effect, recirculating fan interest through a variety of media. The Matrix film of 1999 is an example of transmedia storytelling, with it’s combined launch of film, animations, video game and comics all conveying different angles of the narrative. Aspects of film marketing and distribution which I never would have considered are presented, making the $10 spent on the book a great value.
Having studied the work of a few fantasy and sci-fi authors and with a basic story idea, I began outlining the script for my animated feature. My main concerns were to weave an intriguing story and erase the line separating the sci-fi and fantasy genres, delivering a cinematic experience that no one has ever had before. In order to maintain an atmosphere of fantasy and mythology, I wrote the screenplay by candlelight sitting in an old Victorian style chair. Since this tale was not pure fantasy, I wrote on a Blackberry with its lighted keyboard in homage to the science fiction genre. I read recently that you write three scripts when you make a movie, during pre-production, when shooting, and then when editing. Currently in production, I can attest to this fact.
When developing a script, it seems more important to move forward than wait until every word is perfect before going on to the next step. Get the story as tight as possible and then proceed to character design or storyboarding, knowing there will be many chances to improve the script later on in the process. With the working version of your script in the back of your mind, you can constantly be watching and listening for ways to improve it during your day to day routine. For example, after having written the script you hear an interesting phrase or new slang, you can work it into the dialogue of your script. I realized that in order to make progress on a project this big, I needed to forget perfection and focus on process instead. During pre-production, there were no clear boundaries between character design, cosmology and story; instead I just opened up my imagination and wrote or drew whatever came over. I didn’t even have a title in mind. Many of these elements were incomplete as development progressed, but I pushed forward knowing it would all come together when production started.
Continues in 2 weeks