Our Progress

In our new plan of action for The Taffetas project, Yesenia and I explained that we decided to rebuild our story concept and our pitch for 2012 based on critique we received over the Summer. The time spent taking the advice we were given is worth it and we made a lot of progress, but there are plenty of frustrating roadblocks and humbling learning experiences along the way. I'm excited to update every Wednesday to share with other creators and our supporters the journey so far.

What We Accomplished
Before this post, Yesenia and I talked about the updated blog banner, our new log line and specs, and the new e-mail we moved to.
But this isn't all we did! In fact, in these past few weeks, we:
  • Researched- a lot!
  • Defined our theme  of the story
  • Cut most of the "fat" based on our theme
  • Updated details about our characters
  • Created the basic outline of our series to follow 
When we started research for Taffetas, I hungrily read anything I could get my hands on. Fearing all the hats I must wear for this project, I read books like The Five C's of Cinematography, Producing Independent 2-D Animation, and Acting for Animators. Do you see the problem?

They aren't relevant to what Yesenia and I need right now. We're not even getting into production for months.

With Yesenia's help (see: Dairy Queen ice cream and a long, girly talk about my feelings), I was able to calm down enough to target books related to storytelling and the bigger picture, since that's the stage we're in: taking a step back and re-evaluating our story from it's very basics, which helped us define...

Our Theme
The theme - the main moral a story illustrates - for our story luckily was not hard to come up with. Yesenia and I always knew what Taffetas was about, and with some slight tweaks we were able to really nab it.

Although we don't have the exact wording down just yet, our theme is:  

Everyone has their own Mythology to unfold. 
But how do you do that? Our story focuses on answering that question.

I will talk about theme and the direction of our story in more detail in an upcoming post, but this statement is at the very heart of Taffetas and will reflect in all of our characters and plot lines. I like to think of it like a thesis statement for a persuasive essay. Every example we have in our show must now prove this statement. 

What We Cut Out
 If you were lucky enough to follow us from the very beginning of our project about a year ago, you probably at least understood our story was vaguely about a couple, their family, and maybe something about a flying city and a boat...or...uh- a  wha-?

I'm sorry. We made no sense.

A lot of good, but misplaced ideas were put into our story in the beginning because we had so many thoughts we wanted to fit in all at once. We lost the clarity of our theme because of this and had to learn to leave some ideas on the cutting room floor.

The biggest thing we trimmed from Taffetas (besides the flying city, Ronnie, and a few bad guys) is the post-marriage lives of Veil and Gemini. This is because our theme applied to our characters' central romance should lead to the union of the two as a whole and doesn't need much expansion to add in a family- which is unfortunate since it was one of our earliest ideas for the story. 

It's necessary, though. With some of the excess trimmed away, the heart of our show is clear.

Updated Character Details
Though I'm often humbled about my storytelling and writing skills (But hey, I draw for a living - I don't know what writing are!), I am still proud of our main leads, Veil and Gemini. Yesenia and I know these characters inside and out, and even though one of them is a tall blue elf and the other is a short Atlantean pirate, their personalities are credible and relate-able.

We're still not perfect, though. As we begin more research into specific details, we know we need to refine even our main characters, let alone our less-developed side characters. While this is an on-going part of our update process, some of the things we're thinking include:
  • Gemini was never the captain of her boat, a yet-introduced character was
  • Most of our original ideas for Gemini's haunted past have been taken ou, leaving one large problem for her to work out
  • Gemini is not as culturally aware as we once thought from her travels. In fact, she barely learned a thing during that time (though we'll be keeping a lot of Jamie's awesome outfit ideas!)
  • Elena will dress more like a tomboy rather than in cute dresses and skirts
  • Wolf is no longer a romantic rival for Gemini's heart
  • However, Veil's step-brother, Eschewal, will be a romantic rival
  • Veil is a wannabe novelist who works at a greeting card company as a copy writer 
  • Veil shows a wider range of emotions than he used to, but remains uptight and reserved
  • Tom has replaced Ronnie's role as friend and guide
  • Veil's eye color has changed from a pale yellow to a light brown

(dreamily sighing optional)

All of our characters also evolved on a conceptual level, filling new metaphorical roles and playing their part to push the story and theme forward. I will talk about that more in the upcoming update on character creation. 

The Basic Outline
One of the accomplishments I am most proud of since starting work on our revisions is our story outline. Going through all the research and ideas we have for this show, Yesenia and I managed to create the framework to work with for our pitch and for eventual production.

The show follows a model for the hero's journey, tying in beautifully with our mythological tone. Our hero is our leading lady, Gemini, and the major plot points of our series follow her coming-of-age journey to realize the truth of our theme.

What Lies Ahead 
We accomplished a lot in a short time, but the journey isn't over yet. All of the work I mentioned is going into portions 3, 4, and 5 of our plan for the written pitch - story synopsis, character bios, and episodes synopsis. Beyond that, we will continue to follow the schedule until our pitch is completed and we can begin production of content.

This part of the update process took longer than I expected. What I thought would be a little tweaking turned out to be a lot, but it is worth it to improve our project.

I'm also excited to share more insights about our progress here on the blog every Wednesday for the next few weeks and I would love to hear what you think in return!

Leave us a message below, post a comment on our facebook page, or write us at info@thetaffetaspitch.com!


Pacmanite said...

Sounds like you've made some exciting progress! It's nice to hear that the sunflower guy Tom will be replacing Ronnie, I always found Tom's description hilarious. Can't wait for next Wednesday!

Ashley Holmes said...

Its great to hear how you unpack your progress! I really look forward to reading how you guys go about your ideas etc. It really helps me (a fellow animator) understand the pitching process a lot better. I really hope you continue with these posts. :)

Gemma said...

Sounds like some brilliant developments there. :D

Yeah, its best not to jump into all the roles at once. While I never gave it conscious thought, I've shifted between the positions of concept artist, scriptwriter, animatic artist, editor and director depending on need. Sometimes you find yourself juggling two or three roles.

And reading books for pointers is fine too, but just need to beware of taking in too much information and becoming overwhelmed before anything's actually got off the ground.

I namely worked by observing production documentaries on the collector's editions of movie DVDs. It presented all necessary roles in 'bitesize' format which made it look far less intimidating.

Tracy "Tito" Lynn MacLauchlan said...

Thank you all for your comments!

@Pacmanite: Thanks! I’m glad you like Tom and I agree, I’m happy to see Tom’s role get bigger in the story.

@Ashley: I’m so glad this can be insightful for fellow animators and creators! Thank you for the comment, I really appreciate it.

@Gemma: That’s really interesting to hear your own personal process for Outcast Hero, and thank you for sharing your insights!

I went to Savannah College of Art and Design for animation and have also worked on a productions beforeso I know the production process from firsthand experience, but my fear lately is filling the roles I know I’m weaker in.

For me, I think there is no substitute for reading books to do the research. I find it difficult sometimes to do, but there are vast amounts of knowledge authors put into their books that you will not be able to find anywhere else. It can get overwhelming sometimes as I touched upon in this post, but it’s worth the stress.

Dana Corrigan said...

Wow! It's exciting to see how much Taffetas has developed during your time of research, and I'm curious to see how these changes effect some of the characters (such as Eschewal and Wolf, and seeing what role Tom plays in this now).

It's really neat to see your development here, especially since it's through the words of directors who are still learning and making the journey, themselves. I remember Dr. daCosta once saying that there is something special about exchanging information and knowledge across the same level, instead of one talking down to the other (such as students tutoring other students. Since they're either still learning the material or have only learned it recently, they can share a special insight about -how- they learned it, that is sometimes lost with professors who already know it so well that things might be obvious to them that aren't obvious to students learning it for the first time). It's really great of you and Jess to put in your own developmental journey as you're making it.

Although I'm sad to see some of the original ideas having to be left on the cutting room floor, ultimately it's for the best. Sometimes it's best to cut out even some ideas that are good on their own if it's for the best of the story as a whole. The way you have it now I think leaves more room for character development across time.

You guys have quite a journey still left ahead of you, but you've already come so far and are doing an amazing job! I look forward to next Wednesday's update!

Yesenia_Outrageous said...

Thank you Dana!
It's been a very long ride, but definitely worth it (despite some of the roadblocks we've hit along the way). Tracy and I cannot wait to go into detail on some of our newest developments and really work towards clarifying and strengthening our pitch.

I have to say: it is very hard putting in-progress work here (even though its a production blog) and not waiting until finessing everything and then waiting for input once it’s too late. However, I am glad people have been really into what we have to share, and most of the critiques have been really wonderful. Like you mentioned, I hope that by sharing what it is like as the “directors who are still learning and making the journey” it will inspire people. We decided it was time we gave back to everyone who has helped us either by volunteering their skills, or by supporting us through all their comments and critiques, by showing them the behind the scenes research we are doing for our pitch as well.

I think much good will come out of showing how and why we did the things we did, as well as pointing out where we got our information. Hopefully this will open a door of communication for people like us who are trying to get our idea out there and funded.

I am very sad to see a lot of things let go, and I know as a creator you have had to do the same to your own characters. I appreciate your sensitivity to this, as well as your insight that it did need to be done. I am just excited about how clear our story has become because of it :) Hopefully the reason behind some of the changes are more clear in the next few posts when we talk about why we did what we did.

As always, thank you for your support! It means a lot to both Tracy and I.

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