Wow, what a whirlwind 12 weeks (full-time job training has gotten me all alliterative!).
As my classmates party down and celebrate the end of the semester, I reflect upon the Another World studio with the Portuguese word saudade (meaning a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia) as possibly the most accurate adjective for how I feel about this studio being over.
The concept for my final project, Lore Enforcers, was conceived all the way back in week one. The initial concept drew somewhat on a music video for a band I used to listen to in high school (The Used’s “All That I’ve Got“); with two bookstore workers travelling into texts where the plot had deviated. In a way, I had began to develop both the setting and world of my concept (the difference between the two established during week 2) – only without realising it.
From very early on in the studio, I had a keen interest in developing a screenplay for the final project. Reflecting on my first attempts at doing so – first from a photo-story and then from the motion picture UP – I notice a large difference between my writing then and now. At first, I approached with less dialogue, more big print; but in my final project it seemed that I really allowed the dialogue to drive the story; with minimal big print interjecting to only direct important actions in a concise manner. I attribute this to one of two factors —
(1) the events of the first screenplay are arguably far more dramatic, and call for less dialogue.
(2) a subconscious approach of less-is-more directing.
This shift in script-writing style reflects a great deal on the style of learning I find most helpful — following by example. Between week 3 and now – week 12 – I feel I spent a great deal of time reading, writing, re-reading, and re-writing screenplays in order to achieve the style by which my final project is presented. I am incredibly proud to look back and see how far I have come as a screenwriter in nine (ten if you include the break) short weeks.
By the time we presented our ideas-in-progress to our small groups in week 6, I had begun ironing out some of the weaknesses in the world rules that existed when I first created Lore Enforcement. My idea for Lore Enforcement was generally well-received by my table; and I credit them for the idea of using Where’s Wally, Nineteen Eighty-Four, A Christmas Carol, Lord of the Flies and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; as well as the idea of each episode parodying a different genre (with an espionage Chocolate Factory and a cop-drama Where’s Wally collaborative suggestion acting as the spring board for this concept).
The effective collaboration was helpful in establishing the weaknesses that still existed in my world; but also encouraged me that I was on the right track. My final project pitch in week 7 was very well received; and while this initially frustrated me that I had nothing glaring to fix; the likening of my idea to the film Jumanji led me into better exploring the passing of time, and eventually remedying my ongoing back-and-forth of “world rules” heading into the pitch. During my reflection on the pitch, I began considering the idea of time varying within the text worlds – moving faster in some texts than others – and this is the world rule that would be applied in my final product.
However, development began to stifle somewhat after the pitches. At least from my perspective, it seemed as though the free-flowing and open collaboration that we blogged about for PB2 evaporated after the pitches. I’m not sure if this was a matter of classmates being “too polite” to suggest changes, but I felt as though most of the work I had submitted for peer review was briefly reviewed as “good”; or never discussed during class time. This was a frustration that meant I was unable to truly gauge how my screenplay was coming along until a review from Stayci; and a table read of some of my script. Regrettably, by the time the table read came about, the style of humour that was likened to my script was that of animated series “Rick and Morty”.
While I do enjoy Rick and Morty, it is not the style of humour I had been hoping for. It seemed a lot of the jokes I had written fell flat, and by this point I would either have to revise them and blindly hope they were better; or continue down the path I was on and adhere to humour I wasn’t intending to adhere to. Perhaps with better collaboration in the weeks leading up to the table read I would have been able to achieve this; but this could also be on me for not being more assertive in making sure my piece was reviewed during class.
Nonetheless, with the advances I have made in my skills as a media creator in terms of world building and screenwriting; I am not one to sit here and consider my final work a failure. Even if I consider my final screenplay as somewhat disappointing; I feel that I have created a strong concept of world; and I have provided enough documents as proof of narrative that an entertaining television series could be made from the foundations built during this studio.
At the end of the day, Another World has been an excellent exercise in stripping back narrative – an element of storytelling that I find myself strongly drawn to – and focusing instead on the world as a basis for creating a story. I have no doubt that, outside the obvious skills I have developed in this studio, the idea of approaching a tried and true practice (such as screenwriting) from a non-traditional approach (world-first) will influence my way of approaching other aspects of media creation; and perhaps even influence me to take a non-traditional approach to these as well.
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