Posted in Visual Storytelling

The United States: Represented as…

This week I decided to try my hand at telling my own story through visualization. I decided to tell a story about the United States. Now, I won’t tell you what this story actually is… Yet. I’m leaving it up to you to figure out what story I’m telling about the United States and next week I will reveal what that story is. Is there a prize for guessing correctly? The prize is knowing that we think the same! (So maybe not the best prize, but it is what is).

Posted in Visual Storytelling

Multiple Emotions in Pictures

            It’s easy to look at tell the main emotion in a picture. For example, if someone is screaming and the color of the picture is red you would be able to tell that the picture is about anger or rage, but there can still be another underlying emotion to it. That could be either based off of the color of the picture or the actual emotion being shown (like screaming). The way that we view these visual elements are called the Gestalt Principles. The Gestalt Principles are “rules that describe how the human eye perceives visual elements” (https://www.interaction-design.org).

https://www.artranked.com/search?q=anger#&gid=1&pid=24

The initial viewing of this painting makes it look like anger. The character painted is red (according to Plutchik’s color wheel red’s emotion equivalent is anger) and is raising a fist to what I can only assume is to punch someone. The underlying emotion that I can see is sadness. There’s just a little bit of blue (blue’s emotion equivalent is sadness, according to Plutchik’s color wheel). The blue color of the character’s sleeve isn’t what gives the underlying tone of sadness. If you look at the eyes of the character the tear ducts seem to be swollen, making it seem like the character is crying or about to cry. Could they be in a fight with someone who hurt their feelings? Maybe the antagonist (unseen) of this portrait hurt a loved one of the subject of the painting. Another emotional pairing that can be seen is anger and anticipation (anticipation’s color equivalent is orange). “Anger + Anticipation = Aggressiveness (with its opposite being awe)” (https://www.interaction-design.org). The protagonist is clearly being very aggressive, seeming as if to initiate a fight. The colors also work very well together (red and orange). There is also a hint of green in the bottom of the painting which brings a hint of fear to the painting. Could the subject of the painting be fighting for their life? There are many moving parts in this painting: fear, anger, sadness, anticipation. All of which cannot be seen at the initial viewing of the painting.

https://www.artranked.com/search?q=rage#&gid=1&pid=15

This is my favorite painting that I found while searching for images that conveyed emotions. It’s entirely different from the normal Plutchik color wheel. A majority of the painting is blue which would translate to sadness, but the face of Poseidon shows pure rage. It’s very much as if the ocean is in anguish. It’s a tsunami of pain and anguish crashing down on the culprits of the pain (most likely humankind). It’s the complete opposite definition of blue according to https://thenextweb.com. “Like yellow, blue’s meaning varies greatly depending on the shade. All blues are universally relaxing and safe, but the lighter shades will seem more friendly while the darker ones seem more somber” (https://thenextweb.com). Every shade of blue is shown in this painting but none of those shades seem friendly or safe. The main emotion being shown in the painting is anger, followed by a sense of grief and sadness. Poseidon is grieving over the pollution that humans are pumping into the ocean. At the same time, he is enraged by that fact and the two emotions work hand-in-hand to provide this amazing image. 

It amazes me how so much emotion can be conveyed in one singular painting. In the first painting, four emotions can be seen all working in tandem with the overlying tone of anger. There aren’t as many emotions being shown in the second painting but two different shades of the same emotion are shown (sadness and grief), along with rage. They work very well together. Plutchik doesn’t have grief and rage together as acceptable combinations, but this is where we can criticize the color wheel. “It is also often felt that the model is too simplistic and that there are greater emotional nuances not captured within it” (www.interaction-design.org). There are so many more emotional pairings and nuances that can be shown through a multitude of colors that the color wheel doesn’t mention. One of the biggest ones would be the anger color tree and the sadness color tree. A lot of the times they work hand-in-hand in real life, so why not in images?

References

Cao, Jerry. “Web Design Color Theory: How to Create the Right Emotions with Color in Web Design.” The Next Web, 11 June 2018, https://thenextweb.com/dd/2015/04/07/how-to-create-the-right-emotions-with-color-in-web-design/.

“Putting Some Emotion into Your Design – Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions.” The Interaction Design Foundation, https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/putting-some-emotion-into-your-design-plutchik-s-wheel-of-emotions.

“What Are Gestalt Principles?” The Interaction Design Foundation, https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/gestalt-principles.

Posted in Visual Storytelling

Emotions in Images

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/putting-some-emotion-into-your-design-plutchik-s-wheel-of-emotions

Color plays a pivotal role in being able to show emotions with a picture. “Combining color and emotion is a powerful storytelling tool. Color creates a sensory impression that reflects mood and emotion” (104, Lupton). I searched through many different paintings and many different movie posters to ones that I thought conveyed the color range of red on the Plutchik’s color wheel. Red portrays annoyance at its lightest stage, anger at its middle stage, and rage at its darkest stage. The first picture is the movie poster from Dinner for Schmuck’s, a comedy starring Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell. Having seen the movie myself I already know how it conveys annoyance, but I will be only using the actual poster (and none of the scenes) to talk about the emotion. My second picture is a painting that conveys anger. The third image is a painting by Saryth on dA that conveys rage.

imdb.com/title/tt0427152/

Dinner for Schmuck’s is a comedy that stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell. The movie poster describes the relationship between the two very well. Paul Rudd looks incredibly annoyed at Steve Carrell. While Steve Carrell just looks happy to be there and won’t stop holding onto Paul Rudd. The Gestalt principles of perception [“the brain converts a flood of data about color, tone, shape, movement, and orientation into distinct objects. These useful chinks of information are called percepts” (126, Lupton).] aren’t too noticeable here. The biggest one that I see is Similarity (which is when elements with the same color or shape are in a group). Steve Carrell is wearing a lot of blue and lighter colors and they are grouped together showing that he’s brighter. Paul Rudd is wearing black and darker colors showing that he’s more dark and not as bright and chipper as Carrell. Normally, to show annoyance there would be a hint of red in the image, but not in this case. The annoyance is seen on Rudd’s face. The hand on his forehead that is the all-too-known “facepalm” gesture, which most people know to be a sign of annoyance. Someone is just being so annoying that you (since you can’t slap them) you slap your forehead, or even just rub your forehead because you can’t fathom someone being this annoying or stupid.

https://www.artranked.com/search?q=anger#&gid=1&pid=7

This painting is a lot more straightforward than the Dinner for Schmuck’s movie poster. It abuses the color red and uses it very well to depict anger. It does a very good job at adding the human element to it. Now, you may be asking yourself how this painting has the human element. Well, it follows three simple steps. The first step would be the basic image. The basic image in this case would be just the boy being very mad. The second step is adding a human touch, which would be the person that the boy is angry at. The third and final step is adding the human trace. If you look very closely at the image you can see blood spattered on his cheek. That would be the human trace, literally and figuratively. It’s the trace left behind of the person he attacked in anger, it’s also what adds the story to this image. Not only do we know that he’s angry, but we also know that he did something about it. The image also does a great job at following the Gestalt principle, Enclosure, “Things that appear to have a boundary around them are perceived to be grouped, and therefore related” (Bonner). There’s a thin white line surrounding the boy in the picture which groups together the boy and the color red and separates it from the background. Along with Enclosure, the image also does a great job at Figure/Ground Ambiguity, “Perceiving certain objects as being in the foreground and other objects as being in the background” (Bonner). The blackness is clearly the background in the image and that can be seen because of the white boundary surrounding the subject.

https://www.artranked.com/search?q=anger#&gid=1&pid=35

I really like this painting because it has so many different stages to it. You have the battered warrior with a multitude of scars across his chest. He’s holding a wicked looking sword that’s gleaming in the light. That’s not even mentioning his eyes. His eyes exude pure rage. Which is the reason I picked this painting to showcase rage. He has no pupils, no iris. His eyes are just pure red. They almost look as if they’re just balls of fire that could destroy anything with just a glance. The area around him is smoking and looks like it’s rundown, possibly from a battle he just finished (and clearly won). This image does a great job of showing the Gestalt principle, Proximity, “closely spaces elements form groups” (128, Lupton). The stairs that rise up to what you can’t see is its own group. The ambiguous object next to the warrior is its own group. The entryway in the corner is its own group. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the warrior. He’s in his own group as well. He’s separated from the background (Figure/Ground Ambiguity) by a thin white line (Enclosure). Now the figure isn’t really red, other than his eyes. The entire area around him is red. This could mean that the area he just fought in has rage towards him for destroying a once beautiful area. They’re the same shade of red as his eyes. His eyes hate that area as much as the area hates him. Perhaps it was once a home that casted him out as a child, and he has now come back to enact his revenge?

References

Bonner, Carolann. “Using Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions.” Thoughtbot, 15 Sept. 2014, https://thoughtbot.com/blog/gestalt-principles.

Cohen, Micah. “How To Master Visual Storytelling with Emotional Pictures.” Insights.twenty20.Com, http://insights.twenty20.com/how-to-master-visual-storytelling-with-emotional-pictures.

Lupton, Ellen. Design Is Storytelling. Cooper Hewitt, 2017.

Posted in Visual Storytelling

Pictures that tell a Story

There are so many pictures out there that tell amazing stories. A quick google search of it and you’ll find hundreds, maybe even thousands (if you dig long enough). Many of these aren’t even staged. The power that one image can have is incredible. Some can even change the world. Here are ten images that I think tell stories very well (many of these wouldn’t have the power to change the world).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxF7DLpVwkQ

Buzzer beaters are some of the most iconic moments in sports history. Whether you’re a fan of the team or not, you can always respect an amazing buzzer beater (unless it was used to beat your team). This photo has many layers to the celebration that is occurring. You can see Lebron James cheering as he made the final shot, and one of his teammates coming over to celebrate with him. You see the red lining around the backboard meaning that the shot was good. Then, of course, you have the crowd. Every arm is up and cheering as the leader of their team just won them the game. This fits the classic example of Archetype, one of the four pillars of visual storytelling. The main focus is of course, the hero, Lebron James. But with all the moving parts surrounding him in this photo is does a great job of actually telling you what just happened.

https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/sold-off-siblings-shown-in-old-photo-tell-their-stories/article_1c095598-89f4-584b-891b-7ef48a1e2082.html

This photo disturbed me when I first saw and I immediately clicked on. “Children for sale”? That can’t possibly be true. That’s the point of photos like this though. It’s to grab the attention of the viewer. “The capture of visually interesting content is at the foundation of visual storytelling” (2 Gitner). This photo is probably one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. It grabs your attention the second you see it. You want more. You want to know what’s happening with these four children.

https://www.jotform.com/blog/35-powerful-photos-that-each-tells-a-story/

Right off the bat I’m hooked. Garbage cans burning. A masked man flipping the bird. What more could someone want for a story. Why is any of this happening? It’s clearly a riot happening, but why is it happening. Is the masked man an upset sanitation expert and he’s burning garbage cans as a protest? Or is it something much bigger? This is a great example of dramaturgy. “Telling a story so captivatingly that the audience have to the story right to the end” (27 Bergström). 

https://culturacolectiva.com/music/songs-that-tell-stories

This is my favorite photo that I’ve found, because I relate heavily to it. Which is one of the four pillars of visual storytelling, Relevance. I’ve done this a bunch with my girlfriend. We’ll be sitting down together, I’ll either have my guitar or ukulele out and we’ll be singing together. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite look like this couple is entirely “in love”. The girl doesn’t seem to be smiling while the guy is playing. Maybe they’re going through a tough time and he’s trying to make her feel better with music?

https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/facepalm

We all have those moments where we either do something incredibly stupid or our friends do something incredibly stupid. If we did it, we just facepalm ourselves thinking, “how could I be this dumb”. If your friend did it, you look at them and just think (while laughing) “why am I friends with you”. From my memory (I only watched Star Trek with my dad), Captain Picard doesn’t normally get too frustrated, so something very frustrating must have happened to him before this happened.

https://aminoapps.com/c/horror/page/blog/the-lovers-of-pompeii/QKdF_XulvKKWRYgMvMDZDpBJaxmZRLV

I’ve always found Pompeii extremely interesting, ever since I was a child. The lovers of Pompeii is, by far, the most interesting thing that was discovered at the runes of Pompeii. They’re called lovers, but we never know for sure. It could be two friends that were holding each other before the inevitable happened. There’s a theory that these two people could have been gay lovers. Which adds even more mystery behind all of this. There’s also not just one discovery of people hugging, but multiple ones.

https://www.jotform.com/blog/35-powerful-photos-that-each-tells-a-story/

As I had mentioned in my previous post, scars tell the most interesting stories. Was this man abused or tortured? Was he attacked and mauled by an animal? If so, what type of animal? The possibilities aren’t endless, but you won’t know how scars like that happened unless you do more research. Knowing that, this picture did its job.

https://www.jotform.com/blog/35-powerful-photos-that-each-tells-a-story/

This picture is scary. I don’t quite know what time period it was taken in, but a child smoking is never something good. Now, this could be a posed picture to get a certain effect (which it clearly did), but unfortunately it could also be a real photo. It’s almost as if the two girls in the shot are out of work on a smoke break. Enjoying the little freedom they have before they have to begin working again.

https://www.scmp.com/sport/article/3009977/2019-nba-playoffs-where-does-kawhi-leonards-epic-buzzer-beater-rank-all-time

This was probably the greatest picture taken of the 2018-2019 NBA season. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, Kawhi Leonard hits the game winning shot as he falls back off his back foot. So much in this picture is happening, but everything happening revolves around one thing. “Is it going in?” Joel Embiid watches helplessly as the ball sores through the air. Kawhi Leonard is watching, praying hoping the ball gets the right bounce and falls in. Kawhi’s teammates watching, hyping him up as they believe the shot will go in.

https://www.schertzanimalhospital.com/blog/pet-ownership-101-10-things-every-first-time-dog-owner-know/

Now who doesn’t love dogs? They’re some of the most lovable creatures on the planet. A smiling dog tells some of the best stories. Did the dog and its owner get back from a walk? Maybe they were playing fetch or running around at the park for a while? Maybe the dog is just happy getting a hug from its owner? I know my dogs always love getting hugs. Since most of the people I’ve met are dog lovers I’d say this picture is very relevant to them. A smiling dog always seems to make me happy.

References

Bergström Bo. Essentials of Visual Communication, pages 14-27. Laurence King, 2009.

DeMeré, Nichole Elizabeth. “The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You.” HubSpot Blog, HubSpot, 11 May 2016, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-storytelling-examples.

McKenna, Josephine. “Embracing Figures at Pompeii ‘Could Have Been Gay Lovers’, after Scan Reveals They Are Both Men.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 7 Apr. 2017, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/07/embracing-figures-pompeii-could-have-gay-lovers-scan-reveals/.

Proceedings of NAACL-HLT 2016, pages 1233–1239, San Diego, California, June 12-17, 2016. c 2016 Association for Computational Linguistics

Gitner, Seth. Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World. Routledge, 2015.

“Worth 1,000 Words: The 4 Principles of Visual Storytelling.” Action Graphics, 26 July 2018, https://actiongraphicsnj.com/blog/4-principles-visual-storytelling/.

Posted in Visual Storytelling

Telling a Story

I’ve always been very good at telling stories through words. It’s what I love to do and what I would like to be my career path. This time I decided to stray out of my comfort zone and try and create a story using only a picture. Visual storytelling is passing on a lot of information through a simple visual aid. It’s used a lot to market ideas and products. Which is very important for me right now as I’m trying to get a business up and running. I decided to tackle visual storytelling by simply using the camera on my phone to capture a few pictures that I took while celebrating the long weekend. To me, each picture revolves around the same type of story, relaxation, but each picture has its own story to tell.

Nice day by the pool

This first picture describes summer very well. To me, corona is the epitome of the relaxing beer that one drinks while lounging by a pool. One of the four main pillars of visual storytelling is authenticity. For a picture to tell a story it needs to feel real. Drinking a beer beside a pool is definitely a very authentic feeling, that I think most people (21 and above) can relate too.  

Sparkling water

Rippling water. The wind blowing softly across the top. The sun glaring off the surface. A lone leaf floating with the current. Making someone feel something through your picture as one of the major objectives of visual storytelling. In this day-and-age, most people just scroll through their feeds aimlessly. Not really looking at the pictures, but if you have something that can grab their attention, you have succeeded in telling your story. This picture really shows off how making someone feel something. There’s very little in the picture but at the same time there are many moving parts. I feel completely at peace while looking at this photo. There’s something about a rippling current that can do that for people.

Breaking through the trees

Like the picture above this one, it makes you feel something. Looking up to the sky as a pop fly is hit at your little league baseball/softball game. You lose it for a few seconds in the glare from the sun. Laying in the grass with a friend just looking up at the sky, the sun sneaking its way in past the shade. While looking at this picture you can see both levels that visual storytelling operates on: the action level and the narrative level. The audience sees the setting (outside), props (mailbox in the shade, a home), time (afternoon), and the person in it (who isn’t seen) is you, the viewer.

Hurry before it melts

I’m sure everyone can relate to getting some ice cream with a friend on a hot summer day. Trying to finish it before the heat melts it away. Since it’s the end of the summer and many people either just started school or are starting school this upcoming week, makes this photo incredibly relevant. Relevancy just so happens to be another pillar of visual storytelling. Relevancy is also the most important part element of any story. If something isn’t relevant what would make someone want to view it? This picture could be a great selling point for this little ice cream shop, as not only the ice cream looks delicious (it was), it also shows a homey environment.  

Oops

Now going off of relevancy, I’m sure most people who drive or have driven all have that “oops” moment or “how did that happen” moment. I’ve been driving this car for over four years, and I could not tell you how this crack in my car happened. It tells a great story though. Where did I go that could have caused that? Was I in an accident? Was I not paying attention and clipped the curb? Scars tell the most interesting stories. Not just on people. Scars on anything really. If you’re walking through the woods and see claw marks on a tree or a rock. You’re going to wonder how that got there.

References

Bergström Bo. Essentials of Visual Communication, pages 14-27. Laurence King, 2009.

DeMeré, Nichole Elizabeth. “The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You.” HubSpot Blog, HubSpot, 11 May 2016, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-storytelling-examples.

Proceedings of NAACL-HLT 2016, pages 1233–1239, San Diego, California, June 12-17, 2016. c 2016 Association for Computational Linguistics

“Worth 1,000 Words: The 4 Principles of Visual Storytelling.” Action Graphics, 26 July 2018, https://actiongraphicsnj.com/blog/4-principles-visual-storytelling/.

Posted in Content Creation, Writing

Episode One is in the books

This is it. It’s finally here. The final draft of episode one. It’s been a very long seven weeks to get here, and I apologize for those who were waiting to see what I could accomplish with this idea. I had this idea over a year ago, while I was working as an assistant stage manager for a production of Hamlet on the green. It’s been a long time coming and I have to say I am so happy and proud of the final result. I never found the time to work on this idea when I first had it. That is until I took ICM 528 Content Creation. I was not only allowed to further pursue my Master’s degree in Interactive Media and Communications but also to start a TV series that I’ve been wanting to do for over a year.

I’ve learned so much over these past seven weeks. Going into this project I had no idea how to format or write a TV script before. I’ve only ever learned how to write feature-length scripts or short 15 page scripts. It’s kind of crazy how different scripts can be. Both feature-length movie and TV scripts can be shown on television, but the formatting for them is so different. I talked a lot about the differences between the two in a couple of my early posts, but I’ll do a brief overview for those who haven’t seen them. A feature-length script is three acts.

You have the beginning, middle, and end. A TV script can be formatted one of two ways. The first way is that it’s five acts.

Act 1: Introduce your characters and present the problem.

Act 2: Escalate the problem

Act 3: Have the worst-case scenario happen

Act 4: Begin the ticking clock

Act 5: Have the characters reach their moment of victory.

That way of formatting a TV script is for shows that don’t have a linear story. For example, NCIS or Law and Order. The second way is that there aren’t acts in each episode. You don’t have to reach a conclusion at the end of every episode. Many episodes can even end on cliffhangers (which is what I’ve done with both my pilot and episode one scripts).

Moving on to the actual work that I completed this week. This week was focused completely on finishing Episode One. Although, my mind was looking ahead to when I got to do a read-through of the script. Finding the time to work on finishing Episode One was a challenge. I’d get home from work completely mentally and emotionally drained. I teach kids how to film. Which is/was an amazing experience, until this past week. I’ve worked with kids for six years and this particular class was easily the worst class I’ve ever had. Making the two-hour commute there and back was rough enough as it was, but dealing with those kids for six hours was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Thankfully, I survived the experience and it’s over. So that meant I was able to focus on finishing my script. I spent the whole weekend working on it, staying up into the early mornings both Friday and Saturday nights.

I needed the script to be as perfect as it could be for the read-through. Turns out, to working on a script sleep-deprived is not the best idea. The story was still coherent, but there were a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes that I found during the read-through. The read-through was amazing. Having multiple people who’ve acted in New York read my script was the greatest experience I could have hoped for my finished product. All of the actors got so into their parts. They were changing their voices, screaming, laughing. It’s so difficult to explain in words, the experience was just magical. Then the feedback I got, just made me over-the-moon. Firstly they were upset that it ended and they wanted to know more about what was going to happen. That’s honestly one of the best compliments a screenwriter can get (in my opinion). Secondly, they all agreed that this is a series that they could envision being a Netflix original (which is the ultimate goal for my series). The only problem that they had with the script was that they thought Aurora’s dialogue was a little too mature for someone of the age I wrote in. Her original age was five-years-old, but after we all talked it out we agreed that Aurora being seven made the most sense.

Thank you all so much for taking this journey with me. I’m probably not going to be posting as much about this project in the upcoming weeks. I’ll probably take more time on the future episodes and focus a lot on making Episode One and the TV Pilot more “Netflix-ready” and ready to be sold.

Full read-through of Episode One
Short Excerpt from read-through of Episode One
Posted in Content Creation, Writing

Finally moving onto Episode One

Last week was spent on focusing on starting episode one of Saving Camelot. I hit a few bumps in the road as I only had a couple days to work on everything, so I apologize for everything be a little later than usual. Luckily, I knew what episode one was going to be, so I wasn’t too far behind. Don’t worry, everything is going smoothly now. I started with the storyboard, which this time I decided to write out instead of using Boords.com. It’s a little messy because I wanted to convey more than the allotted space (plus my handwriting isn’t the neatest), but thankfully it is readable. I decided to do a couple more scenes than I did with the storyboard for the pilot episode. Instead of the six I did last time, I did eight this time around. There’s no real reason for it, besides the storyboard I was using had room for eight scenes and I didn’t want to leave anything blank.

The draft, is a little bit different this time around. I wrote a little over half of what the actual episode length will be, but don’t worry the story still makes sense if you read the draft now. It just leaves you on a cliffhanger. So unfortunately you’ll have to wait for the full episode to come out to quench your thirst for Saving Camelot.

Episode one is the precursor to what the main character, Aurora, will become. It takes place from when Aurora is ages 7-12. So, this happens before the pilot takes place. It’s a lot of backstory for Aurora. If you remember the pilot, she really hated demons and tried to kill an entire group by herself. Episode one explains where her hatred for demons comes from. It’s a little like the calm before the storm in Joan of Arc. Right before Joan of Arc announces that she will take down the world’s greatest army. Episode one is the buildup for Aurora to “make her announcement”. Now, she’s not going to make any announcement but episode one and the next few after are all solidifying her as that “Joan of Arc” type of hero (a young girl who takes it upon herself to challenge the greatest army and free her people).

So far in episode one, you’re only introduced to the main character, Aurora. I know in the pilot you were all introduced to Aurora, Lillith, Galahad, and Abigor. That was for a reason. I wanted everyone to get accustomed to the big four characters who will play a large part throughout the series. Episode one really just focuses on Aurora and what she went through as a child and how she became an orphan. I really want to convey all the hardships that she has to go through. By the end of episode one she’s only 12 and has had to lose three of the most important people in her life, at that time. It’s almost like a Batmanesque type of backstory (however, Aurora doesn’t run around in a bat costume fighting crime. She’s just going to try and stop the legions of hell from taking over the world – no big deal).

The next step in this process is to finish Episode One and edit it. I’m really excited for this part, because once it’s all finished I will be having a cold read-through (actors don’t have a chance to read the script beforehand) with multiple actors who have performed in New York. All of them are current students at Quinnipiac University (my Alma Mater and where I’m receiving my Masters) and are very experienced when it comes to acting. Most of them haven’t done a cold read-through of a script before (other than ones for shows they’ve been in), so it’s new avenue for them to explore. I’ve had cold read-throughs done before for the feature-length script I wrote two years ago, but that was only for the pages we wrote every week (15-20 pages). Never have I had a full script (start-to-finish) read in this type of setting before. I’m so excited for the read-through because hearing what you read aloud (and with acting) completely changes the game. I can really only read my script one way, but having six different people read it and listen to it, the feedback I’m going to get will be amazing. It’s also going to be really good to see everyone again, and introduce a freshmen I know into the theater program at Quinnipiac.

Posted in Content Creation, Writing

Out of the Pilot’s seat and into the Driver’s seat

This week was the start and finish of two separate episodes for my TV series. I finished my TV pilot, and I am incredibly proud of the finished product. I liked my original draft of the pilot episode, but I knew it was missing a lot. My pilot episode had only 16 pages, which isn’t nearly enough to sell an idea. After reviewing all the feedback I got, I was able to add so much more depth to my script. I even ended up adding a few more characters, to not only the pilot episode, but to the entire series. I got amazing feedback from my friend Matthew, who, luckily for me, is in the same field as I am. His knowledge of TV scripts really helped to bring out the best in the pilot episode. He even gave me a few ideas to enhance my script, which eventually made the pilot episode 26 pages long (which is 10 more than the original draft).

After researching how to write a TV pilot script, I feel as if I’m off to a great start. “You might still get somewhere writing a spec of an existing show. Nowadays, though, it’s more advisable to write a TV pilot based on your own original idea. People want to see not only that you can write to order, but that you have the imagination to come up with original, exciting ideas. And sustain them over the course of a whole season.” (Script Reader Pro). My idea is original, but it has its roots connected to Arthurian legends, as well as a little connection to Game of Thrones. I think that an original idea with connections to what people know, could do very well in today’s media.

Once I the final draft of my pilot episode, it was time to start working on episode one. I realized that when forming my production plan I had creating the storyboard before the treatment, which is a little hard to do. Mapping out a story before the story is created is nearly impossible, so I had to switch the order of how I was doing things. That meant that I was writing the treatment this past week and I’m going to create the storyboard this upcoming week (no big deal).

When I had originally mapped out how all the episodes would go, I didn’t think that my original idea for episode one would make it long enough. Well, that all changed when I started to actually write out the treatment. It seemed as if all the feedback that I had gotten from the pilot episode, helped me form a better treatment for episode one. One of the best pieces of advice that I got from the feedback was, “I think it has potential but you should probably leave more things to mystique.” Which I definitely didn’t do in the original draft. I was able to use that while writing my treatment. I wasn’t so upfront with everything this time and left more for the audience to try and figure out. I’m sure it’ll be easier to showcase the mystique of the episode when I start to write the actual script, but I felt as if knowing that allowed me to add so much more depth to my treatment.

Speaking of depth, one of the major things that I learned this week, is that the depth of your protagonist can make or break your story. Your protagonist can be well-written, but if it’s a typical character, the script won’t make it to the next round. Film Courage had an interview with Carole Kirschner, where she described a script, she read, that didn’t make it to the next round, “The character wasn’t that interesting. It was a female, it was a young woman who was going against what her family wanted, to do this thing in a man’s world. We’ve only seen that…a hundred thousand times,” (Kirschner). The fact that the protagonist was female, kind of scared me, since my protagonist is also female. Finding this out made me really give an in-depth look into Aurora to see if she’s a typical character or if she has layers. “…she [the character] had something that she was passionate about, but it didn’t reveal enough about her, it wasn’t a character. You know, Walter White [Breaking Bad] had layers and layers and layers. This character had a lid” (Kirschner).

Now, I have to admit that part of my backstory for Aurora (my main character) could be considered “typical”. Her parents are murdered (Batman) by demons, but I think the way that everything unfolds for her is not quite typical. As she ages throughout the series, she grows through various different events that I haven’t quite seen before, which adds new layers to her character. It also makes the audience sympathize with and like her.

Posted in Content Creation, Writing

Getting into the Pilot’s chair

This week I finally began writing the first draft of the pilot episode script. I know I said I would do the first draft and the final draft this past week, but I realized that was a little much to do in a week. I also think it’s in the script’s best interest to do one script a week since that would give me more time to get feedback instead of scrambling to get it all done in a few days. I had a lot of fun watching the script come to life. Writing is something I’ve always loved and at points, it seemed as if the script was writing itself (as crazy as that sounds). It just flowed. I do think for the final draft that I need to add a bit to it.

It’s roughly 15 pages, which for a TV drama is a little short. I know it’s only the pilot episode, but I still think the pilot episode should be around 22 minutes (which would be about 22 pages). But this is part of the whole process of learning how to write a TV pilot episode as well as scripts for TV. I did say, I wasn’t going to do much research on how to write a pilot episode or TV script this past week. I’m sticking to that. My research for that begins this upcoming week, and I’m very interested to see how my first draft changes once I find out the correct way to format and write a pilot episode (as well as how long it will be).

Along with writing the first draft of my script I also began the process of character costume design. That was a lot of fun to do. I have a pretty big background in theater (been doing it for pretty much my whole life), but I had never been a costume designer. I was very excited to dip my hand into something I had never done before. I think it came out very well. I had to do a decent amount of research on medieval colors and what colors knights would wear, but I think the costumes turned out very well.

For my main character, Aurora I used pretty bland colors (tan and brown). She came from a peasant family, so I had to take that into account when designing her costume. “Many colours were deemed unsuitable for the peasant class. Bright colours, it was thought, were not humble and engendered a feeling of pride which was a mortal sin” (Gilbert). Her costume was also supposed to reflect a peasant boy, not a girl. As she didn’t want Galahad to know she was a girl since she wanted to be trained to be a knight (Galahad is blind). Yes, Galahad is THE Galahad. The one from Arthurian legends. He pretty much just looks like an old hermit at this point with bland colors as well (tan, brown, and white). I did, however, put what his knightly armor would look like, which was based on a basic armor set (tunic and chainmail).

My favorite designs came when I was designing the villains, Abigor and Lillith. It is the medieval era, but I did always envision Abigor in a black suit. I think it’s within the realm of possibilities that the grand duke of Hades could be in a suit. He does have his suit of armor which is all black. “A black knight was almost a character of primary importance (Tristan, Lancelot, Gawain) who wanted to hide his identity; he was generally motivated by good intentions and prepared to demonstrate his valor, especially by jousting or tournament” (medievalists). I wanted his armor to be somewhat ironic. Normally, “A red knight, on the other hand, was often hostile to the hero; this was a perfidious or evil knight, sometimes the devil’s envoy or a mysterious being from the Other World” (medievalists). Abigor is described as a handsome knight, so I wanted his armor to portray that. I may end up going back and adjusting what his armor is going to look like.

The final costume was for the evilist character of all, Lillith. Her costume, like Abigor’s, is all black. I’m playing with two different costumes right now. One is almost like a black ranger’s outfit because I like a hood for that character. The other is a black sorceress gown/robe. I may end up combining the two of them. “Bernard replied that white was the color “of purity, innocence, and all the virtues”, while black was the color of ‘death and sin’ and was how the devil looked” (medievalists). Since, “…Lilith was known as a dangerous embodiment of dark, feminine powers. In the Middle Ages, however, the Babylonian she-demon took on new and even more sinister characteristics” (Gaines). I decided that Lillith is the complete opposite of purity and innocence, and she is 100% the dangerous embodiment of dark, feminine powers. She will also match Abigor which makes sense since she is second-in-command.

This week was a lot of fun, but I’m even more excited for next week when I will finish the TV pilot as well as start the process of the first episode. However, before I can do any of that, I need your help. I’m going to add my script to this post. I need all your feedback on it, so I have an idea of what an audience would want. That helps me adjust the TV pilot and would help me in the beginning stages of mapping out the first episode.

Posted in Content Creation, Writing

Mapping it all out

            This was a bit of a crazy week for me, as I didn’t have too much time to work on anything. It was jam-packed with business trips and city trips, so I had to use every moment that I had to work on my TV series. It was totally worth losing sleep over. Just watching my story come to life, was amazing. I started my treatment earlier in the week, but only finished about half of it before our weekly production meeting (that was on Wednesday). Which meant I didn’t have too much to show, but I was realized when I was told that we didn’t need to have everything done or have a lot to show. A lot of other members of the group were still just doing research.

            I may have procrastinated just a bit on my treatment when I found out I wasn’t behind. I knew I had other obligations happening Thursday into the weekend, but still decided to push it off. Luckily, I have a lot of free-time this upcoming week, so I’m probably going to start doing some deep work, to get myself back on track (and maybe get a little bit ahead of the game, but we’ll see). Deep work is “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate” (Newport, 3). I learned a bunch of skills on how to deep work in my Foundation to Graduate Studies class, so I know I’m prepared to do some of my best work this week.

            Deciding to do deep work this week, is a huge step as I actually am getting into writing the script for the pilot episode. If I distract myself too much, I know I’m only going to be able to finish one draft of my pilot episode which would put me a week behind. Not only am I going to focus on writing my pilot episode this week, I’m also going to focus on the research aspect on how to write TV scripts. I have a bunch of articles and videos that I’m really looking forward to reading/ watching in order to better my craft. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m very excited to watch the Writer’s Guild Foundation video, creating a TV Show from the Ground Up. If anyone knows how to write a successful TV show it’s them.

            For my first draft, I’m going to go in blind. I don’t mean that I’m going to go in with zero knowledge, I’m just going to use my knowledge about how to write a screenplay, in order to write my first draft. You may think that it’s a little silly to write a TV script using only knowledge on how to write a full-length screenplay, but for me it’s a learning process. I want to see how different (or how similar) writing a TV script is compared to a feature-length script. I think it would be very interesting to compare my first draft to my final draft of the pilot episode and see how much changed (or stayed the same) after reading up on how to write a TV script. When writing a screenplay there are four basic elements that are needed: “ending, beginning, Plot Point I, and Plot Point III. Before you can write the words Fade In, before you can put one word of screenplay down on paper, you need to know those four things” (Field, 199). Lucky for me, I know the basic structure of a TV script because of my research from last week.

            I’ll give a little recap (or you can check out my previous post here). Within the broad terms of beginning and ending there are five acts in a TV script. Act 1 serves as the introduction to the characters. Act 2 serves as the introduction to the problem. Act 3 is the problem gets as worse as it can. Act 4 is the ticking time bomb (if the problem isn’t fixed, something bad will happen). Finally, Act 5, is the resolution of the problem and the “heroes” celebrate their victory.

            The one thing I’m worried about with what Field says about the four basic elements are the two plot points. Normally, Plot Point I is the end of Act 1 in a screenplay and Plot Point II happens at the end of Act 2 (Field, 200-201). I have five acts in one script. This week is going to be a lot of trial and error to figure out the best place for my plot points. I think the plot points are going to arc throughout the course of the entire show, and what’s used in each episode are the three different storylines.

            I will definitely let you all know how it goes and what I discover the differences between my first draft and final draft are.