TL;DR – Over the next year I’m making a short animation between paid projects. This public production tracker is to help keep me on track and make sure I follow through. Skip to the end to see my progress or read through the wall of text below for more details.
Over the next year, I will be creating a short animation. I don’t have the time and resources to give this my full attention for the next 12 months, so I’ll be working on it between paid projects. I’m sure you’ve heard others make similar plans or even planned something similar yourself, often for the final piece to never materialise. We start out with a precious seed, our idea, but as life gets in the way, we find it difficult to give it the time it needs to grow. With the huge amount of time needed to make an animation, personal projects often disappear into the ether. So. How is this film going to be any different?
This page is my public production tracker, I’ll be updating it as I go. I won’t be posting any details about the project here, it just shows my progress. It would be really nice to create a production blog, but I figured the time I’d spend blogging would be better spent working on the animation. I’d much prefer a finished film.
So. How will this page help? Accountability. This website is a pretty simple one, there are three main pages, this being one of them. This page has nowhere to hide, any eyeballs that find their way to this website will most likely see this page. It won’t be a great look if you can see that I’m falling behind on the production, especially if you’re a potential new client. Yikes! Why would I want to do this?
I pride myself on telling stories. I do this as an animator pretty much every day, but I’m mostly telling other people’s tales. Whilst I enjoy doing this (I’ve built up a lovely bunch of clients over the years), there’s always the urge to create my own story. So what’s stopping me? I call it the debilitating possibility of perfection. Client work has budgets, schedules and deadlines. All of these things make sure the animation gets done, on time and to budget. Without any of these restrictions for a personal project, it’s too easy to fall into the bottomless pit of trying to make a perfect film, an impossible and endless endeavour.
I have created my own short films over the years, but they’re always part of something that gives you restrictions, making them makable. They take the form of amazing/exhausting/madcap animation competitions and challenges. You’re given the theme at the start and have a fixed amount of time to create something within the timeframe. Cardiff QuickDraw gives you 48 hours, GreaseOff was a brutal 1 animation per day over the course of a week, 5 animations in total. Working on these films is exhilarating, one of the most creative processes I’ve experienced. You’re pushed to the limits of what’s makable, frantically coming up with workarounds to save precious minutes. You learn so much. What if I took a similar approach for a short film, but instead of 24 or 48 hours, I had 8,766 hours – 1 year?
But why Stephen why? Alongside having a story all of my own out there in the world, it’ll give me the chance to stretch my skills and learn new ones. Once the film is complete, I’ll send it around the festival circuit for animators around the world to critique, criticise and hopefully enjoy.
My aim is to work on this project every Friday, keeping my client work to the rest of the working week. This means I’ll have at least 52 days of real production time. Some weeks will be quieter and I’ll be able to spend more time on this, others will be busier and I might have to forgo a week. I’m going to do my best to make sure that it at least balances out, but ideally I’ll spend as much time on this as possible. What about weekends? It’s tempting to add Saturday and/or Sunday to the mix, but the last thing I want to do is burn out. That will be bad for this project, my client work and my mental health. I’m going to do all that I can to make this film, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.
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