I recently made a short film for a local film festival here in Greensboro, North Carolina called the Fruitcake Film Festival. My friend Mickey approached me and said we hadn’t done a claymation in a while and he was right, so we decided to do it for the festival.
The festival does have several restrictions: all videos have to be either 10 seconds, 30 seconds or 60 seconds (not including credits), they all have to be family friendly and have a holiday theme.
I came up with a couple of ideas and this was the one Mickey and I liked the best. I called my talented friend Marie Stone van Vuuren to help us, because she’s been wanting to work with me on a claymation for a long time. She then incorporated her friend Sheila Duell to help and the four of us got to work.
Of all the short films I’ve done up to this point, I feel like this was the least amount of work I put in. It’s nice when you have a talented crew. I just told them what I was looking for and that was it. Marie built, selected and placed almost everything you see in the video. Sheila painted the wall to make it look like a real wall instead of the cardboard it actually was, and she hung the paintings and Mickey did what he does best: animate. I just came over, built the Santa Claus, lit the scene and shot it.
Here are some stills of production:
This is the room before it’s lit.
After lighting. I wanted it to feel like midnight and lit by the moonlight.
Mickey fixing Santa’s hat.
Mickey swapping eye balls to make Santa look like he’s blinking. Oh yeah, Marie made the beard. I don’t think I could’ve done one that well.
And the final result:
On the right, in my “widgets“, I’ve included a PDF file of the script so viewers don’t have to jump from page to page to read it. Remember, this is just the first draft and the script may change drastically. I also haven’t read it in its entirety yet nor have I spell checked it or checked for grammatical errors. It’s very rough. My goal was just to get it done.
I’m just going to list some of the main things I’d like to work on:
1. The most important thing to me is that Sam’s character doesn’t feel right. We have no empathy for him. His struggle isn’t great enough. There’s something missing and I have to find it.
2. Dialog. Too much of it sounds like me and there’s no accents. They’re all Greek, they should have accents. Plus, I want Perry to speak a broken English entirely. This will be a major fix and will be difficult, but I think it will make a major impact.
3. Character development. Jimmy isn’t well thought out. He’s a cliché of every mob movie I’ve ever seen. I want to give him more depth. In fact, I want to give all of them more depth, but especially Jimmy.
4. Women. It’s not that important because it’s a mobster movie and intended for a specific audience, but I’d either like to add another female character or make the ones I’m using more integral to the story. I’m actually thinking of adding Claire as a character. Even though she’s dead, it could interesting. It would also help in making Sam more sympathetic.
5. Action. I’m not sure if the action scenes are intense enough or written well enough. I’m going to break down some of my favorite movie scripts and see how they are written and if mine stacks up. I’m sure it doesn’t.
If anyone else has any suggestions, please share. That was the point of posting the script online. I’m going to take a couple of weeks away from it and let it gestate. Meanwhile, I’m going to devour the contents of a new site I found about the entire screenwriting process, from conception to selling, called Go Into The Story. I’m also going to work on a short script idea I came up with the other day. I came across this site and it gave me the inspiration to make another claymation. It’s been too long.