At our first story meeting we had no script, just pages and pages of data to support the fact that decisions made in arraignment, plea bargaining and sentencing have far-reaching effects beyond those on the perpetrator and victim of a crime. The trick was to find a way to use a character driven story to illustrate this data and fit the entire story into 90 seconds. After I suggested that the interns relate some of their own family stories about friends and family's experiences with arrest and incarceration -- the tales began to flow. After hearing a couple of gut-wrenching stories I went and wrote the script.
Script - First Draft
Without revealing too much at this point... the gist is that we observe as a case unfolds in the usual way -- bail is set too high for the suspect to pay (most likely followed by a period of pre-trial/hearing incarceration), a guilty plea is bargained and the defendant is sent to prison. Then we follow the same case through a more enlightened approach that takes into account the data supporting shorter sentences, treatment and community services as a way to benefit the greater good of the community and lowering crime levels overall.
Early Visual Development
At the second story meeting, we read the script together and at the end I asked the interns to sit down and draw characters, scenes and props the envisioned when reading the story. 1 1/2 hour later I was amazed to find these sketches (above) and more in my inbox. They had reached into their own experiences and mental visual libraries and put them on paper. More on specific sketches and artists in upcoming posts.
Having seen these, I was now faced with my own "Dilemma": How to make this the visual style of the film -- taking into account the still-developing skill and experience levels of the interns and staff at TAP Digital. i.e. we didn't want to overshoot abilities but wanted to create something really cool within those constraints. We settled on the idea of the interns now specializing in character, set, prop and further developing their visions. The next 2 weeks will be free-form visual development based upon their own memories, research, taking photo reference and drawing. At this stage there is no wrong drawing, while centering on the script and staying on message, I asked them to explore -- and we will curate the results to form a visual style. Ultimately these drawings will be developed and used as texture maps placed onto a rough 3D set and 3D models. The overall look will be a 2 1/2 D combination of flat, theatrical shapes, 3D space and these drawings. Not Pixar, not South Park -- somewhere in the middle.