I’ve already come a long way in this project. I first started writing the script in the summer of 2004. I was preparing for my second year in the animation MFA program at UCLA and I had to come up with a good project for school. The general strategy when coming up with a story to make into an animated film is threefold. I present to you Bill Plympton’s three rules for making a successful animated short:
- Make it short
- Make it Funny
- Make it cheap
Those are the things that make a short film do well in festivals, paving the way for actually making some money off it (like, getting it into a touring festival like Spike & Mike or The Animation Show, or even on TV).
It’s actually kind of hard to come up with a good story that’s short. It helps to narrow it down to one event or idea and play off that. I looked through my sketchbook and found two opposing pages, one with a drawing of a teenage girl and the other with a 4 year old girl. So I said to myself: “Self,” I said, “we have here the beginnings of a story. On one side we see the babysitter and on the other the babysat.”
I brainstormed a bunch of ideas for stories involving a babysitter and a little girl, decided on one, and knocked out a first draft of a script. The first thing I did was take it to the Women in Animation Writers Roundtable. This is an event I would strongly recommend to anyone who’s an aspiring animation writer in LA. You bring your script and the other people at the meeting take parts and read it through. Then everyone gives feedback so you can take the script home and work on it some more.
I can’t stress this enough: peer feedback is über important! In my development process I show my script, storyboards, animatics, and animation to as many people as I can find who might be able to give me useful feedback.
While writing my script I also enlisted my friend Cory to help in some of the details. He isn’t so good at the overarching structure but he’s a genius when it comes to jokes, dialogue, and obscure references. He’s been a great help all through my story development process. Even now he continues to help me on some last-minute changes I need to make to the script.
Next: storyboard, animatic and voice recording.