I will confess, thinking up the perfect story for this project is proving very difficult... Naturally I've been considering numerous possibilities since summer last year, but unfortunately none have stuck as of yet. The tricky part is the time limitation I have looming over me: it's surprisingly easy to fantasize a spiraling tale of epic proportions, but there is no way in this world and timeframe I could ever get everything done on time. I need to be realistic and plan everything down to the last detail, otherwise I know I simply won't finish. My extreme underestimation of how long it would take me to accomplish animating a single scene in my Specialist Study 1 project proved that much. This is my final degree show, I don't want something lack-luster and unfinished to advertise myself to the industry, or to anyone else for that matter.
Another thing I realised while wracking my brains for a suitable idea is that, more than anything, I want my work to touch someone emotionally. I want my characters to connect with people; I want the audience to empathise and relate and understand what my character's going through, to go on a journey with them and to come out of the room after watching my film feeling that life is a litte bit better than before they went in. Rather than focusing on something humorous and slightly sadistic like I have with my past projects, I 'd really like to create something genuinely heartfelt. I know that must sound incredibly cheesy (perhaps I've been watching too much Pixar lately) and perhaps even a little overambitious; I'm not saying I can write, animate, or produce anything nearly good enough to change people perspective on life. But the more I think about it, the more I believe this honestly is my dream. I truly want to reach people with my work, and I'm intend to pour my heart and soul into this project in an attempt to do just that. How successful I'll be remains to be seen, but it's all part of the learning experience and as long as try my best I'm sure I can only improve.
For now let me unload some of the initial ideas floating around in my head and sources that inspired them. I know for certain I don't intend to have a specific target audience; I don't want my work to be aimed at only a tiny niche of people. I'd much rather create a film that everyone can enjoy, something that both children and adults can relate to. With that in mind I'm thinking I want my story to be about a child having some sort of mini adventure or experiencing something wonderful and new, that way children can relate to it because they're still kids, they know what it's like for everyday to be a new adventure. And hopefully adults should be able to relate as well since they'll remember their own escapades as kids and it'll evoke a warm, nostalgic feeling. One of the key sources that got the cogs whirring about this in my mind was the Legend of Zelda games, where an item you can find in almost every game is an empty bottle.
Now in the real world a bottle is a completely worthless, commonplace item that you can acquire almost anywhere. But for some reason in the Zelda universe bottles are incredibly rare, priceless articles which are limited in number, making acquiring one a joyous experience. Why exactly? Because empty bottles are there to be filled! And there are almost endless posibilites of what you can fill them with: water, potion, bugs, fish, gas, mushrooms, fireflies, fairies, even people! (Strange but true.) Suddenly you have the means to capture and keep living things with you, things that where unobtainable before. Being able to trap and study something alive is an endless source of fascination for children, I remember it well from the days I used to catch insects in my dome pencil sharpener as a small kid because my parents wouldn't let me have a pet.
It's something you tend to forget as you get older, yet these games reminded me of it and I think this simple idea has the potential to grow into something much more story-worthy. The Zelda games are all about childhood adventure, greater callings, and magic. While I don't want my story to be complete fantasy, I'd really like there to be an element of magic in there somehow, even if it's only in the imagination of the child. My character could be trying to catch a shooting star (another dream of mine as a kid), or a fairy in the forest. One idea I've considered is to have my character set traps to try to catch a fairy at night, then succeed only to find out as the sun rised that it's actually a butterfly. I think this might be a little too mundane though, and possible fairly predicable... I don't want anything that's too obviously the child's imagination, I'd like to keep the audience guessing and make them invest in the possibility that everything my character is experiencing is real, that way if I choose to put her in any peril, they'll actually fear for her safety rather than just assuming she'll be fine because it's all a daydream.