Monday, December 10, 2012

Scene 03 - Le Bank

Finally Flint reaches the performance main stage. Inside the bank is where the story unfolds.

As this scene involved having more characters in some shots, I had to find a way of not having them visible unless necessary to support the action, and at the same time I needed to make the audience aware that there is a undetermined but fair amount of people inside this Bank. And of vital importance, so that I would not have to animate 5 or 6 different characters.

I went ahead and followed Deryck´s advice, and only showed the other characters when necessary. Most of the time my camera just shows Flint reacting to what happens to him along the time he spends in the bank. More on this later.

Entering the Bank was an important moment. In the story board stage, the plan was to have Flint walking towards the ticket machine, that would be out of order, while not revealing the inside of the Bank until Flin realizes that he can´t take a ticket and notices the queues that are a consequence of the machine being broken, and are the main conflict of the whole scene. Initially, this would be shot with a camera slightly behind my character but showing his face so that the audience could see the reaction to the above obstacles.

However, when I placed the cameras in the scene, and started looking for the right angle, I discovered that this scene would work better if it would be a medium shot, from his front. This allowed me to animate the scene in a different way. I was able to make him enter the bank, take a slight look at the inside, but not realizing immediately that there was a lot of people inside the bank. He takes a couple of seconds to realize this, and the fact that the ticket machine is out of order creates the necessary suspense and drama to present the main obstacle of the story.

The next screenshots show the four main points of this shot: 

1 - Slight glance towards the inside, not realizing the queues;

2 - Moment when Flint goes to take a ticket, understands it´s not possible, and thinks about what he had just seen moments before, but did not mind with it;

3 - Moment where he shows he is aware of what is happening, but still can not believe it, but wants to peak at it in a pondering way, like saying "what the hell did I just see?";

4 - Revealing moment. Flint is now aware of what the problem is and will be, and shows it to everyone;

And then comes the revelation of the main obstacle, the queues. The camera changes from a medium shot, to a long shot revealing the whole scenario, by zooming out. I believe this zoom out enhances in the best way the drama of the moment, and it explains very well what the problem is to the audience.

This shot starts a sequence of actions that oppose Flint to a series of obstacles that he needs to find a way of dealing with. First Flint chooses a line after having reacted to the "damn" machine being broken. Then, while in the queue waiting, more people arrive. This action is revealed mostly by Flint´s reaction to the arrival.

 Just then, a new line opens, and Flint notices it. Here I tried to take the audience with me, and show what Flint was seeing, so that I could prepare them for the next shot.

With the action in this shot, the objective is to search for empathy between my audience and my character, by trying to recreate a possible familiar situation that maybe everyone has experienced in some way or another. Flint get´s happy to see that a new line is opening, and that things are going to speed up, and maybe allow him to reach his objective earlier than expected, and he turns to say something to the people that previously were behind him in line, and had arrived later.

He then is presented by an action that can be considered morally incorrect: the fact that people don´t consider the "not written anywhere" rule of respecting the people who have a right to be attended first, since they arrived first. I mean, I have commented on this with several people, and from the small sample, everyone could relate to this feeling because of different reasons, but the important is that they empathized with it.

He then realizes this lack of courtesy (as it is more a courtesy rather then disrespect, moral courtesy), and since it´s the first time that happens, he deals with it and tolerates that it happens, although being slightly frustrated about it.

Then this situation repeats it self. More people arrive, Flint notices it, and a new line opens. However this time Flint has a different reaction. As he is in a hurry, he makes a go for it, and while doing he glances back, just to see that he had been played again. I find that having it happen twice and have Flint react differently to it is funny, but also emphasizes the fact that he is changing according to what is happening to him, and rapidly changing Flint´s emotional state from relaxed to more stressed and aware.

And with the above action comes Flin´t reaction. He expresses a very clear "what the hell" and thinks about it. This is also the moment to make time go by and potentially bring out another feeling necessary in the audience to allow for even more empathy: boredom while waiting in a line that is taking forever, and twice longer if you are in a hurry!

So here I used to shots, one where Flint is trying to see if the line is gonna move soon and another with him just standing, clapping his foot on the ground impatiently. 

And then comes another shift in the action: time went by, Flint is next in line, and just when he is about to say something, the bank employee just closes the line to go for lunch. Here objective was to agitate the action, making Flint react instantly, searching for the shortest line, and there existing none, just quickly moving to one, and swapping lines to whatever one is shorter without the blink of an eye, bringing out a obvious change in behavior, from calm to aggressive.

This was also nice to animate. Challenging, because I wanted to do these movement changes really fast, and when landing having this sort of flexible recoil in Flint as if he was a bit elastic. 

The previous scene also leads the audience to the last but not least conflict and problem in the movie: when both of the only two open lines close, one after another. And after the last one closes, I brought the rhythm to a slower pace, almost like a pause, a dramatic pause, to build anticipation for the comic finale.

In the last 4 shots of the movie, Flint slowly realizes that first, there are no more open lines, second it´s 12 o´clock, so he is out of time, and third he sees the bank workers are just standing and talking there by his side, and he was the last customer there. I believe this is probably the most empathic moment, because we all in different situations on our lives have been screwed like that. 

The last shot is then the ending. I have read that it is hard to end a movie with a punch line comic moment. However, I tried to not reveal or at least not make it predictable at all. Until now I am still not sure if mine worked at all... Anyway, he bursts into anger and waves maniacally towards the bank workers, blind with anger and doesn´t even realize that he is reaching the door and BAM!, the irony.

I thought about several endings, and to be honest I could not see one that would make any more sense than the one I used. Or in this case, not make sense at all and be funny, because it was unpredictable.

Now the real questions here are: have I managed to have the audience with me all the time? Did I bored them? Was my story clear and understandable enough? Has the audience felt empathy with my character?

Asking my self these questions, I don´t have a clear answer to it...

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