Friday, 6 November 2015

Online Greenlight Review: 06/11/15



  1. Bevelite Studios

    I like the design for the robots here; simple and characterful. My problem is I don't understand what your story is telling me or what I’m supposed to be feeling about any of it. Obviously we have a story about old vs new – an old model of robot being compared (unfavourably) to the new model. In story terms, what is the significance of this comparison? Watching your animatic, it seems as if the old robot is trying to compete with the new robot, but is too old to do so. Are we meant to feel sympathy for the old robot? Is the new robot ‘showing off’ and unlikeable? Is this why, at the end of the film, when all the other old robots come to life, we’re meant to think ‘Hah! The new robot will soon get what’s coming to him!’ or are we meant to like the new robot and pity the old robot for being so envious and think at the end ‘Hah! This new robot will soon see off all those other old machines!’

    I’ve watched your animatic a few times, and I don’t know what the message of your film is; at the moment, the new robot is ‘blank’ in terms of character (is he trying to be friendly, is he arrogant, is he curious?), and the old robot comes off as grumpy and decrepit. I don’t understand the relationship between the two characters, what they’re thinking about each other, and I likewise don’t understand the significance of the shot when all the other old robots activate at the end. In very basic terms, what/where is your story? – PG

    Simply put your animatic is very hard to understand. It certainly isn’t the story we discussed in tutorials. This is due to different factors; for example the editing, the staging, and story beats. However this is mainly due to a lack of depth of character, it’s currently hard to understand why your characters are doing what they are doing, where the jealousy is coming from, and why this has a bearing on the sinister ending. My suggestion is go back to the heart of the story and tell it through the personality of the characters. For example the theme of ‘old vs new’ points towards a character either having experience (old) or enhanced abilities (new). If this coupled with innocence (newness) and tiredness (old) then your characters suddenly gain personalities. Your editing style too helps to indicate how you may tell this story…a new robot wakes for the first time and innocently runs through his enhanced abilities in front of an old run down robot. This leads to cutting between the robots increasing the levels of skill and the levels of jealousy. Finally this leads to the old robot shutting down and being put on the shelf, the new robot being moved over (the old robots side) and a ‘new’ new robot placed in his old space – Creating a cycle of newness and jealousy (You could use you a larger version of your spherical robot or a cleaner, newer version of the old robot as your third robot). - AP

  2. I've been thinking about this story since the OGR feedback, and I think the issue is the ending. Your theme is jealousy, right? But jealousy can be ended or resolved. It seems to me that the new robot is like a kitten whose newness and energy and playfulness is not welcomed by the 'older cat'. The kitten isn't bad, and we understand too why the old cat might be a bit miffed. In other words, we can feel sympathy for both, while understanding why they might feel/behave in the way that they do.

    So: old robot sees new robot. New robot wants to be friends. Old robot doesn't want to be friends. Old robot is jealous of new robot because new robot makes old robot feel old. We know this, because each time the new robot tests his functionality, we see the old robot look at his own version of the same functionality and think 'harumph!'. The new robot is very up-to-date. The new robot is solar powered! We know this, because it's the spotlight of sun shining down into the warehouse that first activates the new robot. The new robot has a charging bar on his side, which we see charge up at the start of the film. The old robot is battery-powered; we know this because he is plugged into the wall; his battery has to be charged up the old fashioned way. While the new robot can hover and spin about, the old robot is heavy, old and literally anchored to the ground by his charging cable. We know all this, because the story has established this during the scenes in which the old robot is comparing himself unfavourably to the new robot. We've also been shown that the old robot has this long rickety grabbing claw that folds out of its body, whereas the new robot has a 'tractor beam' capability. When the old robot wants to move something or grab something, there's this clanking of mechanical components; it's a noisy, physical business. When the new robot wants to move something, it's easy, effortless and uses 'clean' energy. Poor old robot!

    Finally, just like an old cat to a new kitten, the old robot gives the new robot a bop on the nose when he comes too close; he sends the new robot packing! Good riddance! (We actually see that the old robot feels bad about this, but the old robot is stubborn and is being a grump and turns his back). The new robot, who is now miserable and lonely, hovers off into the dark all by himself. What we see and what the old robot sees is that the new robot's power bar is suddenly depleted (he's not in the sun anymore!) and suddenly, the new robot is in trouble. It falls from the air on the floor, and it rolls away into the shadows.

    Next shot - we see sunlight bathing the downed new robot (we can't see where it's coming from). We see the power bar go green. The new robot activates shyly, he looks dazed, confused - and then we're shown that it's in fact the old robot who has opened another of the skylights to reactivate the new robot, and of course he's used his great long physical arm to do it. We're shown that this is taking a great big effort for the old robot; he's shaking and using a lot of his energy. We know see the old robot's battery power has been depleted (he's had to unplug himself from the wall to rescue the new robot, you see). The old robot goes dark. We now see the new robot have an idea.

    Final shot: the two robots working together to improve their battery life, or hybridising technologies or indeed something else - something anyway to suggest they've both understood the value of each other's skills and there's a friendship in the offing...

    I think you've got to show some kind of change or resolution - and I think you need a happy ending :)

  3. sorry - we *now* see the old robot's battery power...

  4. oh - and if these ideas are helpful to you, they're yours with my blessing - and if they're not, that's absolutely fine too! (But it's the end point of your film that is making it hard for you to tell an actual story...).