How I Make an Animated Film (part 1/3)

I may not be the best person to explain how a movie is made, but I can at least tell you how I do it.

Contrary to popular belief, film is not neatly organized into the three phases of known filmmaking technique. In actuality, I have found that the filmaking process is a lot of throwing away and doing a lot of things at once. The phases are merely guidelines.

I’m not saying that filmmaking is completely disorganized. I’m merely stating that one should not expect film to be a step by step process.

As a novice filmmaker, I am prone to the average mistakes; cliches, bad cinematography, etc. But there’s one thing that you should take note of when making a film. Start small.

I always had the problem of thinking too big. Island of the Golden Caves was planned to be a 30 minute film. Obviously as a bit of a novice, I could not do such a feat. I stupidly ignored Ben’s advise of “dude, you’re out of your friggin mind” and that led me to complete disaster.

Bottom line, keep your first film short. 5-10 minutes isn’t too bad.

This part of the series is sort of the “preproduction” portion. Preproduction is the phase of planning, and I could not explain enough how important this step is.

You can stay in preproduction for as long as you want. Until your film is ready to shoot or animate, you are busting your butt off to plan it.

The main thing to think about is the preproduction triangle or triduum. This is the idea that a film can be good, cheap, and fast. But the trick is, you can only pick two. Do you want your film to be cheap and fast? It won’t be good. Or do you want it cheap and good? I won’t be fast.

Choose the one that is best for you, but I would avoid your film being cheap and fast, because you want your film to be good, right?

I’ve been in the preproduction of IotGC for 2 years now, and have been in the preproduction for another film for 4 years…

…and I’m still in it for the both of them.

Preproduction is hard, believe me. There is no set time for how long this phase can take, but you must have enough time to write, storyboard, throw the boards away, storyboard some more, settle a script, hire crew, budget, cast, schedule, etc.

I won’t tell you step by step on how to do it, but I can give you these three tips:

1. Get feedback – Get your friends and family to see your work. Make sure you get their honest, critical opinion. You WILL need it.

2. Have friends – Never work alone. Working collaboratively is much better than working alone. You need people to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

3. You Work until It Works: Do not stop until you have a story that you are confident with, a cast and crew can trust, and a budget you can work with. That will not be easy, nor will it be fast, but it will be good.

Join me next time when I talk about the production phase of filmmaking. But in the meantime, be sure to follow my blog to read it the second it comes out.

See you later, Animators!

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2 thoughts on “How I Make an Animated Film (part 1/3)

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