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Painting the Town… Update (16/12/17)

It’s my last weekend in the studio of 2017, as always I want to make the best of my time. Again working on three pieces again today. I began by doing the important job of making Minnie’s Haberdashery by adding gum-tape to the exterior sides. I then went onto add the remaining pieces to complete buttress’s to the posts, which wasn’t trouble free. I had to re-point and fix a beam that allowed a buttress to meet smoothly from post to beam. I’m hoping that my work today will be a successful when I return.

I moved onto add another coat of paint newest piece, I can confidently say that I will be adding the final coat to the main pieces before I turn to the balsa elements I’ll be adding them and extending them so they both meet each other in the back right hand corner.

Lastly I focused on the extended the saloon which is almost ready to paint again. Adding detail to the windows and doors. I’ll be next adding the blinds, which I’ll have to understand as they affect how much of the windows are shown. Being blinds they are all at different heights, I may make them uniform, otherwise it would be too much detail, paying far too much attention to the screenshots. I’ve also reduced the height of the saloon bar which now sits much better in the space. I have to keep imagining people in the space, how they would work and interact with the space.

I’m hoping over my time away from the studio over the holiday to still make at home, taking at least one of the pieces home to look at the possibility of the loose front, which would sit around one side, being a similarly detailed front. I wont paint it white until I know it’s working.

Can’t find earlier posts? – they can be found in diary form here


Painting the Town…Update (10/12/17)

Spending the day at home thanks to the snowy weather I had an idea which I had to sketch out. Thinking about the presentation of the models, the possibility of including the exterior – the fronts which I have so far removed, focusing the interior for the first time. Now the fronts would purely be a presentation detail – showing a link from my old work to how it’s evolving. Then I think would that be too much, I really like to the see the strips of card that hold it together, something I usually hide when I make model miniatures, used internally for structural reasons. They are also interesting to look at sculpturally. Would adding a front on one side be too much? I need to find out how that would work. Conceptually it ties into creating film sets and the illusion they create, having fronts would completely change my proposed set-up, they could be placed in a row, or in separate spaces.

I did a few sketches for potential fronts which could be fixed to or sit very close to as they wrap around the main piece. For three of them it’s pretty straight forward what I’m going to potentially do. It’s the fourth and latest one still being painted which is causing concern, the front is the view that we have into the model miniature, which could mean I either I have a front and project through the doorway – which ties into the view-finder for Minnie’s Haberdashery. Or I have a side piece which comes from my own thinking. If I went with the side wall, there would be a disconnect between it and the other model miniatures, projecting an image through a doorway leaves most of the model in the dark too. Or the last option is to take out a wall – not sure which as I want to keep the back wall (with the shelves) as the violence happens in that space. It’s a hard decision to make if I choose to go down this route. If I went down this route, it’s more making and painting which is nothing new. I think I need to see how one works before I went any further.

Painting the Town… Update (9/12/17)

Another very productive day in the studio, working on three model miniatures again. After applying the another coat of white acrylic to the latest model, I quickly moved onto the other pieces. Firstly turning to Minnie’s Haberdashery where I started to add the buttresses, which I originally didn’t want to do, but feel they are necessary now to allow the model it has a relationship to be more effective. Once these are fixed I will move onto the remaining pieces. I am also seriously considering applying gum-tape around the edges for extra strength as I’ve had to carry out more maintenance today, which I want to reduce as much as possible.

Moving onto the extended piece where I started to see problems arise. After adding a problematic trim to the bar, which am still not happy with. I feel I’m adding too much detail and it will come to a point where there will be nothing left to the viewers imagination. I now feel it needs reducing in height to work with the tables and the detailing of the doors and windows which I made using strips of balsa. Where I then noticed that the internal door in the corner looks far smaller than the front door. I have a lot to consider here. The smaller door matches the other door further up the stairs. However when you see both of them in light of the elongated windows and front door they look ridiculous. However I am working from the set design in the screenshots, these areas are like that and I can’t escape that fact.

Lastly and much easier to achieve with little fuss, two tables have had the tops changed from circular to square, which matches the screenshots again. I think I just need to bring all of theses pieces together before I add the stove – which has no funnel this time and a slightly different design. I feel that as I have progressed through each model miniature my making has improved which in turn has produced pieces with greater details, none of them can be left behind on that level, that’s my main considering, the language of the detail.

Painting the Town… Update (3/12/17)

As we enter the festive month I know my output will be slowing down, so I find myself spending longer in the studio during the days I’m in. I made a start on my Christmas shopping yesterday I made sure I made some good progress in the studio today. Having added another coat of paint to the newest model miniature I turned my attention to the first one, which was going to be gutting one two sides. Leaving the floor and the stairway and balcony in tact. I extended out, having a hard time working out to secure the floor on a slightly raised floor. I remembered that the piece started life as a box that I cut into and making it secure, it still has the original tape that sealed the box for its original purpose. I then worked around, added the patchwork of cardboard strips as the walls went in place. I decided that I will no longer need to make a bay window, after looking again at the stills they weren’t there in the first place. What I found instead were blinds which I could possibly add as a detail. I finished work on the model by sealing up a few areas up with gum tape.

Moving on I made up the 3 taller tables which I made last time, which have now replaced the round ones in the Minnie’s Haberdashery model miniature. Looking at them in the set, they look far more appropriate, carrying on the language of furniture with legs without being definitive design, they are simple yet work together. I’ll be adding buttresses next time, this will be after I know the beams are secure, having carried out a little maintenance today.

I think the way I’m working allows me to make the best of my time in the studio painting the one model whilst making modifications to others. Adding coats of paint only takes so much time, and as I reach a more solid colour things will speed up. I think currently I should have all the models complete by the end of January, then I can look at group presentation then, already looking at making specific tables which fit the models, rather than finding an appropriate piece.

Will Penny (1968)

When it comes to Charlton Heston in Westerns it’s a mixed bag for me, having a few classics to his name. Known more for his Biblical work which suits him more, or his more just readily associated with them, either way I’m really got in the saddle with Will Penny (1968). Initially thinking it was going to be like Monte Walsh (1970) which again looked at aging cowboys who were coming to the end of the lives in the saddle, or so we thought. I was quite taken with the film, taking two of the genres bigger supporting actors are given this quiet film to relax and get comfortable.

Looking at Will Penny you can see it’s definitely a precursor to Walsh who follows on from the earlier. Focusing on Heston’s film for now I want to look at how he has made this cosy domestic Western. For a cowboy we see very little of the rugged open country that we associate with the genre. At the opening of the film we see cows being driven to a station, rounded up ready to go off to slaughter. We only hear of the promise of the train, which we wait for, whilst wages are paid out to the men. It’s virtually unseen to have the bureaucracy of the cattle drive on display. It’s generally get the cows the market, blow off some steam and see how much money’s left over before you join up on another drive.

It’s the next job which we focus on, where the men are heading off to. Two men Blue and Dutchy (Lee Majors and Anthony Zerbe) are making plans to find another drive before winter sets in, another cowboy is wanting to get the train to see his father one last time. There’s no place for having a good time here, it’s about keeping the money coming in, not spending it as fast as you can. The realities of Frontier life without any of the Hollywood trappings. Penny (Heston) is one of the more experienced men on the drive, who can’t easily being driven to violence before losing his job, he just wants to survive and do his job. Now Penny’s supposed to be playing older than he is, in his mid 40’s he still looks too young, relying on grey hair dye and the elements to age him up. It’s true life expectancy wasn’t that good in the frontier, however Hollywood is pushing it slightly.

He eventually rides off with Blue and Dutchy who we next see camping when an Elk’s spotted in the distance, fresh meat for the taking that leads only to trouble. The three men fight over it when an unscrupulous Preacher Quint (Donald Pleasence) and his boys who claim the game for themselves. One played by Bruce Dern in an early screen appearance setting the tone for his career. The gang lead by the fathers twisted interpretation of the good book taking the eye for an eye passage too literally. The death of his son he wants to avenge along with his sons who wont give up their quest for “justice”

Being a rare domestic Western there was more time given to Dutchy’s self inflicted gunshot wound. He’s not left for dead – for long anyway. Taking him to a small farm where the Penny and Blue want to get him to a doctor. Advised by the farmer best to let him die, come and have a drink instead. There’s little drama in these scenes, its pure conversation. Dutchy romanticses his accident to passing mother Catherine Allen (Joan Hackett) and son whose shocked at the story, taking his boasts at face value, painting Penny in a poor light. All moving at a steady pace, with no sense of urgency before they reach the town of Alfred where he does finally get care, where we leave him and Blue for a long time.

The focus now on Penny who finds himself a job, after bringing back the dead predecessor, again no drama, only that implied by the dialogue. Employed by Alex played by Ben Johnson whose settling into the older roles comfortably. We think that Penny can rest easy now for the winter just around the corner, his troubles are just about to begin. With the appearance of Mother and son once more in his own cabin, he wants to go easy and fair on them before his return. Even after she held him at gun point. Reflecting how hard it must have been for traveling families to defend themselves out on the frontier. Meeting himself with a bloody encounter with Quint and his boys. The group aren’t the hardest of men I’ve seen in the genre, acting like Native Americans would have been depicted, jumping around, throwing Penny around. Pleasance is strangely suited to the role known for the playing the bad guy this looks like fun for him. They leave Penny for dead in the now snowy Rocky’s, its survival time for him.

Arriving back and taken into his cabin, nursed back to health, we discover a more vulnerable side to Penny and the predictable build up of a romance between him and Catherine. It’s these scenes in and around the cabin that make it takes us into the home and the family dynamic like never before. Of course there have been many families, either warring against one another or all grown up, dysfunctional and feuding. Here these a sense of new love and discovery, without even knowing it. Brought to an abrupt end by the arrival of Quint and his boys, disrupting the dynamic, Penny now a prisoner, Catherine a sexual object to be played with. I’m reminded of the forced dance scene in Day of the Outlaw (1959) when the passing renegade soldiers lead by Burl Ives men who are finally allowed to let off steam, treat the most desirable woman Helen Crane (Tina Louise) as little more than a rag doll, showing no respect for her. The scene is drawn directly from. It’s just as painful to watch as the woman can do little or nothing about it. Made worse by a woman who came with the men who does nothing to stop it.

Falling back into the rules of the genre the hero has to save the day, if only to save his dignity and self-respect, with the help of Blue and Dutchy who appear out of nowhere its time to get the guns out and finally sort the Quint family out. Allowing domesticity and reality to set back in, Alex and his men ride into view and the mother and son have to face reality, not just of where they live, but with who. Penny is reluctant to settle down, feeling his life has not allowed him earlier to do so has left him emotionally at a disadvantage. Unsure if his own skills could support a family, knocking his confidence greatly, he has to carry on alone, riding off into the wilderness, this time out of choice, he had the option to make a family, a life on a farm. His own inadequacies, perceived or real hold him back. A more honest ending, for the film and the man who would have rode away with her, decides not to. A mature and hard decision to make narratively and emotionally for the audience. With reluctance I accepted his decision, nothing in his life has prepared him for a family, running away scared, better off he may think, still he leaves a potential family and lover to survive alone.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017)

When you think of biopic’s of film stars from cinema’s golden age, your mind doesn’t immediately think of Gloria Grahame who was more of a major supporting actress. Yet she’s an integral part of the glitz, the glamour, some of the most loved pieces of Film Noir, Grahame’s femme fatale’s lured in the unwitting men to their doom. I can’t personally imagine her not being part of It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) a precursor to her film noir era. Her career was sadly cut short by her unconventional private life, which is touched upon in a surprising love story that brings the actress back into our consciousness. I’ve been keeping a close watch on Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017) waiting for the reviews to come out, all thankfully being glowing. The title is admittedly long-winded, acting as a draw to this sweet film that shines light on a secret of Hollywood we are more happier to learn about.

For a while I couldn’t imagine Annette Bening in the role of Grahame until I found the trailer, we can see that she has really been studying the actress to deliver a loving gesture. From the soft voice to the hidden depths of the woman who most know from her screen roles. Like most in the audience, this was my way into learning more about her, building up a stronger image and appreciation for her. I am already on the lookout for a revisit of In a Lonely Place (1950), if this film has done anything, it’s to delve further into my love of film and discover more. If film can do that alone it has been a success.

Based on the memoir of Peter Turner – played by Jamie Bell we’ve been allowed into the private lives of a couple who had a brief relationship during 1979-1980. First meeting Grahame as she’s preparing for a theater performance, her face hidden from view, creating a mystique for Grahame before her collapse which leads her to be reunited with Peter whose surprised by her request to recover in his Liverpool home. Wanting to be close to him during her time of vulnerability. No longer is she playing the part of the damsel in distress, a role that has been played by her own contemporaries multiple times.

And so begins our journey back and forth in time as get to know this couple as they meet, get to know each other and fall in love. Framed as flashbacks that takes us softly back into the films not too distant past. The transitions takes us gently back in time that you don’t realise it until we meet a healthier Grahame whose about to meet Peter. It’s a light journey, nearly as light as the softness in Bennings impression that takes the edge of the fact we are watching one actress play another. I had to research how Grahame looked in later life and it’s a very close representation and a very convincing performance. We have a mature woman whose not afraid to have fun with a much younger man – as her own past would prove. The audience is so used to the older man in a relationships with women half their age, when the roles are reversed here, it’s not even questioned. Of course there are scenes early on and you have to think, are we really going there? It’s otherwise accepted, love is the underlying emotion that carries the film through.

Staying in Peter’s family home we find Bella and Joe (Julie Walters and Kenneth Cranham) who keep their son’s feet on the ground. Walters really makes the scenes in the home so much warmer for her just being there, brings us into the family kitchen. A warm loving family who as much as they fight, pull together for the unexpected guest upstairs who has turned their world upside down. The revelation of Grahame’s cancer is dealt with sensitivity, doing what they believe is best for her.

Focusing on the time we spend with just the couple I noticed that some of the scenes were clearly shot on a soundstage – the time in LA, yet I didn’t care. Its a story of film made in that universe completely. I was looking for the seams in the rear-projection – if it was used at all, I wouldn’t care if it was either. Instead I was focused on the relationship as it grew deeper, forgetting the obvious age gap at time. The gap in age was touched upon between them making for some very hard scenes, you want these two to stay together, not wanting to jump forward  to the dying actress in the spare room.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is quite simply a lovely film, well-directed, the two leads Benning and Bell are giving great performances. Benning in particular who loses herself to Grahame, which is incredible to watch. Part of that is in the hair, once golden blonde, which becomes it’s own character at times, an important element for the actress, even if she didn’t intend it that way. Scenes towards the end I noticed her use of her hair, aiding her performance at times (or maybe it’s just me). I wish I could say more, the best way is to see it for yourself, It full of warmth, love and nostalgia for not just the relationship but her own past, how this chance relationship could easily be a dream made up the hills of Hollywood.

Film Talk – Contemporary Silence – Part 2

With the loss of dialogue, a very conscious decision by the makers of the film, there naturally becomes a massive reliance on the audio to carry more of the plot. Traditionally audio is split up into 3 tracks – Dialogue, Sound effects and the Soundtrack.

“The soundtrack of any film…tends to condition an audiences response to it, sound principally creates the mood and atmosphere of a film, and also it’s pace and emphasis, but, most importantly, also creates a vocabulary by which the visual codes of the film are understood.”

Understanding Animation – Paul Wells – Pg. 97

Sound is a vital component of animation adding more depth and understanding to the images and the narrative, allowing the audience to engage with a film. Naturally we take for granted the sounds around us, helps our awareness of our surroundings and situation. The additional an extra layer to the visuals we process.

 “Moreover, visuals are not always subtle-note the overly obvious miming of silent film-and words are not necessarily blatant…Engagement is called for whether one is interpreting action or speech, visual images or dialogue.”

Overhearing Dialogue – Sarah Kozloff – Pg. 11

However to rely solely on dialogue doesn’t mean we can’t understand a narrative without dialogue. Silent films relied upon title cards and the actor’s performances to convey emotions and move the plot forward. Today it’s very rare to silent or near silent films. One example is Robert Redford’s All is Lost (2013); the lack of dialogue was actually a draw for the actor who explains in this clip.

Silent film has had something of resurgence in mainstream film in 2011. With The Artist and Hugo. The Artist a loving homage to silent film that celebrates classic Hollywood. Whilst Hugo by Martin Scorsese is his tribute to early film, set in France, we meet an older Georges Méliès, who in the film is running a Toy store at a train station. It’s also a film that speaks about the importance of film preservation, something, which is very important to the director.

What they are really doing to attempting to re-energise a love for silent film.

“…Hugo and The Artist are only the most visible instances of a broader impulses to make silent cinema “new” at various moments in film and media history…”

New Silent Cinema – edited by Paul Flaig and Katherine Groo – Pg. 2

If you want contemporary silent film – not re-mastered/restored/re-released silent films you have to look out for films such as Ki-duk Kim‘s Moebius (2013), which relies on vocal expression, about

“…a father’s infidelity leads to his son’s all too literal emasculation, as the same actress plays both vengeful mother and wanton mistress, as the genital transplants pile up…”

Back in the U.S. Gus Van Sant‘s Gerry (2002) places two men into a salt desert, where they try to retrace their steps back to the car. Very minimal dialogue, there are long stretches where it’s just Matt Damon and Casey Affleck looking over the landscape.

More recently we have The Revenant (2015) the true-life story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) whose scene are almost dialogue free. Focusing on his struggle with nature, his own torn body and his anger to seek out revenge for being left for dead.

I ended the talk with a longer show reel, which is the best way to explore and understand the power of contemporary silent and minimal dialogue in film.



Parkland (2013)

After watching Jackie (2016) I have become more curious about films that depict or revolve around the assassination of J.F.Kennedy. Just recently catching Parkland (2013) that depicts the aftermath again, but from the viewpoint of 3 points of view. This historical event broken down to the personal level was something I had to look into. Jackie took a very focused look at how the Presidents death affected the now grieving first lady Jacqueline Kennedy who we only see briefly in Parkland, still not much of a focus for film in general at this time. The mystique around her and these events are still maintained. Only seen from the sidelines, kept away from the main focus of this films version of events. It also takes a more linear and traditional viewing into the aftermath.

I was curious to know how these events unfolded on the ground away from those surrounding J.F.K the bystanders who could only look and watch as they saw a visionary yet divisive leader’s life was ended. Parkland chose to focus on Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) who was the only one to have filmed the shooting, a precursor to our fascination of recording horrific events, the need to share, be apart of something potentially bigger than yourself. We first meet him, allowing his team at a clothing manufacturer to take the day off, wanting them to share in this special occasion. He practically encourages everyone to leave their desks for the day like a public holiday has just been announced. Another focus being Dr. Charles ‘Jim’ Carrico (Zac Efron) working at the Parkland Hospital, who later attempted to save the life of the dying President. Whilst secret service veteran of 30 years Forrest Sorrels (Billy Bob Thornton) is trying to piece together what happened on his watch.

I feel I’m taking the position again with Parkland as I had with Compulsion (1959) which I feel both films could have done more. Focus was rightly given to those at the scene. You felt early on for the impact of the events had on Zapruder who filmed the events on his super 8 camera, which was meant to be a record of a great day when the President was visiting the town, only record his death. Before he spent most of the day with Secret service agent Sorrels who knows all of this happened on his watch, he has to ensure they catch the killer as soon as possible, his career depends on it. The pressure is tangible between Sorrels and Zapruder whose driven around to get his film developed and copied to ensure that the investigation continues. These are rushed and intense scenes creating a sense of real urgency that is needed.

The same sense of urgency is felt in the emergency room of the Parkland hospital where we meet Dr. Charles ‘Jim’ Carrico played by Efron whose faced with the presence of a dying Kennedy, brought in with hopes of saving him. Naturally shocked and slow to react, I found myself thinking, “get on with it, save him” then you understand does he, this is the President, no ordinary patient, what you do here could change history. I felt sorry for Efron, not words I thought I’s be saying, given only a handful of scenes, sure they are important to the film as they bring to life what happened in those precious moments. However we don’t see the emotional impact this has on him, or really the whole team around him, Instead moving onto infighting between the local police and Secret Service over who has jurisdiction over the body. Yes it’s important, yet at the same time, you have a medical team in shock, they have lost the President on their shift, all they could do was not enough. Couldn’t we see them after the finished their shifts, perhaps going home to their families, drinking some scotch.

Interestingly we spend time with the Oswald family, not so much Lee Harvey, himself we only see at the time of his own death. Meeting his brother Robert (James Badge Dale) whose naturally shocked by the accusation and the possible realisation his brother has committed such an act. We meet his mother Marguerite Oswald (Jacki Weaver), the only defender of a man whose believed to have been a Russian double agent, a traitor to the end of his life. Creating her own conspiracy theory in hopes of saving him from prison. Being in the company of the Oswald’s is something I do appreciate, seeing the cost of these events on a family level. Two families ultimately have been directly affected over the course of the film. It’s a controversial decision to depict Lee Harvey Oswald’s funeral as we hear coverage of the President overlapped. The Oswald’s are not generally seen as a family in terms this historical event, both deserving a decent send-off, we see ultimately everyone with, contributing to the burial, whilst over in Washington, the world watches another, everything carefully arranged in the days have passed by.

It’s a rushed film that is over in a flash, no sooner is the President dead, are we burying the assassin, an odd way to end a film that tries to bring life to those outside of the White House. A massive undertaking of an event that at the beginning shows promise and gets carried away with the few who were actually at the parade itself. Not to take away from the trauma/shock and days they experience after, however it doesn’t follow through for those at the hospital. The F.B.I. are brought in towards the close as they attempt the destroy evidence that would later come back to haunt them. Not their finest hour, that had to be shown up once more. I’m now looking out for other films at focus on this event, to see how they deal with the assassination, which point of view do they take and how they fit with the other films.

Film Talk – Contemporary Silence – Part 1

Tonight’s Film Talk focused on the silence and minimal dialogue found in contemporary film, the notes are below.

I’m taking a look at a more obscure aspect of film – silent or minimal dialogue in contemporary film. Starting with The Red Turtle (2017) a French and Belgian co-production with Studio Ghibli. Directed by Oscar winning animator Michael Dudok de Wit, which he won for Father and Daughter (2000) about a daughter who longs to see her father return from a rowing trip.

“In this elegant short film about how love can transcend time and death, a young Dutch girl witnesses her father inexplicably rowing out to sea, never to return…A simple and poignant dialogue-free story it is complemented with elegant and graceful design and animation, and the use of silhouettes and shadows.

The World History of Animation – Steven Cavalier -Pg. 324

The Red Turtle is a castaway film that begins by pitting man against nature as a lone survivor is washed up on an island, we first his multiple attempts to escape, only to be prevented by nature – in the form of a giant red turtle, before a woman, who he has a family with, joins him. They stay together on the island and live into old age; complete with all the trials that island life brings them. What I was initially drawn to was the radical choice to have no dialogue in the film, an idea that has been explored in my own work. De Wit’s reason’s comes from a story telling decision, which he explains in this interview.

I wouldn’t be doing the film any favors without looking at past desert island films, which have periods of little or no dialogue. First looking at Hell in the Pacific (1968), a WWII film that placed an American and Japanese soldier on a desert island, first they are still at war with each other, before they realise they have to put their politics and ideologies to one side in order to escape. The first barrier being language that had to be over come. There are sections where there’s no dialogue, a decision taken by director John Boorman , which he explains in this clip.

Moving forward to the turn of the century – Cast Away (2000) there dialogue is kept to a minimum when Fed-ex man Chuck Noland – Tom Hanks lives for years on a desert island, he has only himself and later his ball – Wilson for company, essentially he’s projecting his thoughts onto an inanimate object.

Admittedly there are some vocals – cries or gasps of emotion when necessary in the narrative, as De Witt allows for these moments of verbal expression. An example of this can be scene in the Tsunami scene.

Staying with animation, the decision to have minimal or no dialogue is nothing new. As we saw in the director’s short film Father and Daughter (2000), other animators have made the same decision. Such as Sylvain Chomet The Illusionist (2010).

“The lack of conversation is rationalized here by the different nationalities of the characters and is carried off by the strongly visual nature of the animation, creating a treat of visual story telling that leaves space for its audience to use their minds and discover the detail for themselves.”

The World History of Animation – Steven Cavalier – Pg. 392

Relying on visual cues and associations to bridge the gap. In Pixar’s WALL-E (2008), the first act of the film is near silent, referencing silent film, relying on other audio to express the little robots thoughts and emotions.

“…Wall-E comes to resemble a pet whose thoughts and feelings we believe we can interpret. And like a pet, WALL-E cannot talk, expressing himself only in mechanical beeps and squeals”

The Art of Walt Disney – Christopher Finch – Pg. 400

Whilst in Japan we have Kunio Kato’s short film Le Maison en Petits Cubes/The House of Small Cubes (2008) focusing on an lonely old man who reflects on his past.

“This story is told without any dialogue or narration, there is just a simple soundtrack.”

The World History of Animation – Steven Cavalier – Pg. 379

In the next part I’ll be looking more technically at the function of sound in animation and film.

Cowboys & Aliens – Explored

Whilst I’ve been away from the studio, I’ve not been completely idle in my work or thinking, looking at a potential new piece inspired by Cowboys & Aliens (2011) which really fired up my imagination. I was thinking in anthropological terms how people – both white and Native American would cope under an alien invasion – moving forward seeing it as an occupation of the aliens, who had originally come to colonised by the “Dar” people. With the help of another alien – a friendly one taking a female form “Kai Chak Ra” who makes herself know to Zeke and Verity who before the attack had been leading a wagon train to their new home.

My initial thoughts were to make an animation of how both White settlers and Native American’s would’ve already come together, putting their differences aside and forming a resistance against the invaders of not just their home, but their planet. I’ve also been thinking about how it could be a cross-sectional model miniature, allowing you to look cowboys and Indian figures living in a gold mine that has been re-purposed as an underground base. I’m still unclear as to any real direction but feel there’s something to explore.

I also noticed a lot of differences in the film adaptation of the comic book. We don’t begin with a wagon train almost at the end of their journey, instead we have a confused Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) the comic’s heroes are Zeke and Verity who work together using their unique skills to save the day. We feel more danger in the original comic book, as much as we see danger, explosion and people being abducted, there feels more at threat in print. Maybe it’s what you can get away with in a different medium. The relationship between the Cowboys and Native Americans is resolved much earlier in print. We don’t meet them in the film until halfway through, and with the help of a friendly Native. The Apache who’re depicted know the alien invasion is beyond what the Whites could accomplish, they aren’t stupid, 2 dimensional people, instead given minds that can see what has to be done and work together far earlier. The earlier alliance allows for more action early on, it’s all about survival. Whilst in the film its takes a lot longer, getting others onside, before the final showdown that brings both sides into a harsh rocky landscape. There’s no abductions in print, all the victims are presumably killed.

There have been a few times were the two genres have collided – more recently with Westworld which was successfully adapted and expanded for TV. Both a very rich genres to explore, especially when they work together. I’m still unsure where to take the possible idea of an occupation. Should it be an animation – a series of shorts that build up a to a successful alien retreat. America is very much divided at the moment under Trump – who is not the worlds biggest fan, In his own country, you either love him or loathe him. You could see his time in office as an occupation or an invasion, which I could bring adapt for a possible piece, which would be very exciting and very decisive. However using Cowboys it wouldn’t work in terms of the gun-control which they would be all for. I think this idea needs more time to develop so it’s not so blatant.