film-school Adverts or animation - which is the more valuable teaching/learning tool?

For new entrants to this world of stories told through moving pictures, which format would be a better model from which to learn? As I read through the intros posted on this forum, I see many people (like myself) with Big Ideas but very limited access to the resources needed to turn those ideas into something others can see.

This is particularly so when the Big Idea falls into the realm of fantasy or sci-fi, requiring sets, costumes, special effects and so much more. In this case, I think that animation (old-school or computer generated) is potentially a better route into film-making, where the writer-producer-director isn't limited by real-world constraints to the same extent as with live-action. With enough computing power and the right software, it should even be possible for someone working solo to create a great masterpiece ... :woohoo: ... or at least build up a portfolio of samples.

On the other hand, no amount of money, friends or Red cameras can rescue a bad script, especially one that is padded out with pages and pages of exposition, subplots and "design-by-committee" inclusions. In this regard, I find that well-made adverts* can be a masterclass in storytelling for the screen. The ultra-short format imposes a rigorous discipline on the script writer, which (theoretically) should then be applicable to longer works. :contract:

Obviously this isn't really a simple "either/or" choice, but if someone who hasn't yet decided whether they want to fall more on the side of writing or production wanted to throw themselves at (or off :no:) a steep learning curve, which way would you point them?

* A few examples: VW's "The Force" (1min; comedy, 1 location, 1 lead, 2 supporting actors, no dialogue); Vodafone Ireland's "Piggy Sue" (1min; comedy, 1 lead, 1 animal, multiple local locations, limited dialogue); Edeka's 2015 Christmas Ad (1min45; tear-jerker, multiple actors, multiple locations, limited dialogue)
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
On the other hand, no amount of money, friends or Red cameras can rescue a bad script, especially one that is padded out with pages and pages of exposition, subplots and "design-by-committee" inclusions. In this regard, I find that well-made adverts* can be a masterclass in storytelling for the screen. The ultra-short format imposes a rigorous discipline on the script writer, which (theoretically) should then be applicable to longer works. :contract:

* A few examples: VW's "The Force" (1min; comedy, 1 location, 1 lead, 2 supporting actors, no dialogue); Vodafone Ireland's "Piggy Sue" (1min; comedy, 1 lead, 1 animal, multiple local locations, limited dialogue); Edeka's 2015 Christmas Ad (1min45; tear-jerker, multiple actors, multiple locations, limited dialogue)
I mean, really this rule has been beaten like a dead horse.

I think a novel idea can outweigh a cruddy script, as long as you maintain the novelty. It explains why anime to movie adaptions don't do so well. When they try to fen-dangle the scripted elements, even a little, (like changing the character's sex to be more modern), it usually ruins the novelty of the anime. The original script may not be the best, but it catches on because of its overall world and thematic elements.

Example, if you took up animation... Scriptwriting becomes easier in my opinion. All you need to have a world design skills and an artistic vision. I've watched animated sequences that blow my mind how good they are, and there isn't a single line of dialogue in them.

So, I think when you go with animation... The vision becomes the focus. Whereas with indie films, everyone talks about the script and story being the most novel part.
 

mlesemann

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
I think a novel idea can outweigh a cruddy script, as long as you maintain the novelty.
I strongly disagree. I think it's essential to have a great script before you start to make a movie - but I'm a screenwriter, so yes I'm biased.

Some big budget movies lose their focus because they need to answer to many masters (studios, money people, etc) but there was a good script there first.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I think a novel idea can outweigh a cruddy script, as long as you maintain the novelty.
Can you give us three examples of a finished movie with a cruddy script that
was okay because it had a novel idea?

I can give examples of movies with a terrific idea that was brought down by
a bad script.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Can you give us three examples of a finished movie with a cruddy script that
was okay because it had a novel idea?

I can give examples of movies with a terrific idea that was brought down by
a bad script.
Willow by Ron Howard.

Anything by Michael Bay.

Gladiator was completely rewritten by the Director and Russell Crowe before production began because they didn't think it was good enough.

I'm sure there are more examples, but it depends on if you are going off of budget vs. gain when talking about success, or pure review based results. I like plenty of films that most people consider bad.

I understand why people say story/script is important, but that is also disregarding a difference between visual works over adapted or written work.

Going off this original post, (and I'm almost certain those that responded aren't into anime or animated works outside of Pixar or Disney)... Animation films don't usually succeed for very simple reasons... They change the overall novelty of the anime characters or plot too much.
 
Example, if you took up animation... Scriptwriting becomes easier in my opinion. All you need to have a world design skills and an artistic vision. I've watched animated sequences that blow my mind how good they are, and there isn't a single line of dialogue in them.

So, I think when you go with animation... The vision becomes the focus. Whereas with indie films, everyone talks about the script and story being the most novel part.
This was the essence of my enquiry. I'm thinking only of those who are taking their first (well, maybe second and third) steps into film-making, and how best they should direct their energies. If it's better to foster expansive creativity, to encourage someone to churn out ideas and concepts regardless of the practicalities of turning them into "a movie" then animation offers more potential to see their work as a completed film, regardless of whether it's good or bad, and in itself, this should be an encouragement to produce more and better content.

On the other hand, even an animation needs a narrative of some kind, and I'm sure we all have our favourite examples of long, rambling sagas that would benefit from being severely pruned. Seen from this angle, is it not a good - even necessary - practice to start with a format that demands maximum value from every word of the screenplay? This line of thought was partially prompted by a group exercise that I was part of last year, where we were asked to describe "as succinctly as possible" our most satisfactory professional experience of the last year. As each student's samples were read out - the first ones being 500-1000 word essays :eek: - the course tutor did a great job of explaining how so much of it was waffle and could be stripped away to leave a gripping core message. Isn't that equally applicable to a screenplay, and in particular to the 1-minute timeframe of most commercials?
 
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onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
As each student's samples were read out - the first ones being 500-1000 word essays :eek: - the course tutor did a great job of explaining how so much of it was waffle and could be stripped away to leave a gripping core message. Isn't that equally applicable to a screenplay, and in particular to the 1-minute timeframe of most commercials?
Well in that sense, scripts are a good thing to have for a film, but in my opinion what separates a good book from a good film is the cinematic mood that is made using lighting, sound, and color.

If you go animation, or even cinematography (which I think is my future), you are paying far more attention to the "feelings" a visual imparts over the "reasoning" words create.

I just thought about this, but maybe that's why I listen and enjoy music without dialogue more than regular tunes.... Maybe that's a sign.

So, I guess I'd be one of those that would benefit from choosing animation over something else.
 
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jax_rox

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Sounds like what you’re really talking about is learning how to write before making a leap into either field.

Whether you’re making ads, TV drama, animation or children’s films every single thing you make starts with a good story.

So perhaps focus on that first.

To answer your question, I would suggest that advertising could be easier and quicker to jump into because it doesn’t (necessarily) require hundreds of hours of technical learning before being able to be properly creative. But perhaps you’re already a great artist or happen to know an animation software quite well.
Advertising teaches you to be brutally succinct and will also teach you competing viewpoints and priorities - you’re immediately answering to a client/producer/agency etc.

Advertising requires a good idea. You can shoot a good ad on your phone.
Animation requires a good idea and a bunch of technical knowledge.

Either way, they both need good ideas/stories
 

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