Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why I Watch Cartoons....

You want to learn how to write?

How to create story?

Watch animation.

Oh yes, I have reverse engineered Penguins of Madagascar in an attempt to discover the brilliance of pure story-telling. I’ve taken Mr. Bean apart piece by piece and put him back together again. This happens when you teach English to young learners. Nemo has not just been found, that little fishy has been discovered, examined, and dissected on a petri dish piece by bloody piece. Each part of that perfect production examined under microscopic lens. My students lost in the story have little idea that their teacher is pulling it apart and discovering the beauty of story-telling.

Want to learn about economy of story? To know what parts to leave out? Watch feature length animation. You are NOT allowed to become lost in that story, oh no, you must analyze it. Watch it cold and make notes and you will see that nothing in animation happens accidentally. The cartoonist’s world is a world of foreshadowing and manipulation. Pure story.     

These films are fluid, perfect, not a wasted frame, not a wasted moment – they can’t waste time, it is too expensive. You want to learn how to write stories? Check out Toy Story, particularly the third one. I have chills thinking about how brilliant the final scenes are.

So watch cartoons. Take these films apart and put them back together again. Apply it to your own world and your own work. A story is a story whether it be for adults or kids. It is there to entertain.

How does it entertain?

By being entertaining.

Your job is to discover how.    

Took my kids, week in and week out, to the cinema, buckets of coke and wheelie bin sized popcorn containers, we sat in the theater to watch every new release.

They get to escape into another world. I get to work out this thing called story.


But it wasn’t to last.

Before we knew it the boys had graduated from animation, and traversed to action and drama. Star Wars was okay, Pan was great, but Life of Pi was ultimately the best feature we watched together. Not ashamed to admit I wept as I realized the adaptation was all it should have been. Crying in the cinema, yeah, weeping because you know the filmmaker had nailed it.

Now the kids have grown up, we watch horror, and comedy. Yet I still have an ache and a need to watch animation, luckily I have my students who are happy to watch childish flicks.

Now if you will excuse me I have an appointment with Big Hero Six.