So I completed my semester one pre-production project, submitted my dissertation, visited France and managed to let my phone to go on a little trip of its own … but I am ‘back’ in work mode now.
*DISCLAIMER: I do not have any artwork for this post because it is currently 4 something AM and I can’t be bothered to force a drawing 🙂 *
Brad Bird is the director behind The Iron Giant (1999) and The Incredibles (2004) – he is one of my favourite directors. These two films are very different in animation style but both solid in story and characters. Alongside a few over very popular films, I would say Bird has a strong repertoire of work, however we need to talk about Tomorrowland (2015)…
I was very excited about the prospect of this film simply because of the fact that Brad Bird’s name was attached to it. There were enough teasers and snippets of footage to make me hopeful that the production was going to be amazing but I was slightly disappointed.
What I noticed
I do not think Tomorrowland had enough of a good story; in comparison to Bird’s other films that I mentioned, it was very weak. The Iron Giant had vast imagery and expressive drawings with lively movement. The relationship between Hogarth Hughes (the boy) and the giant was exciting and new. The Incredibles offered something that I believe was missing in the film industry – an original Superhero film that was more than the superhero powers themselves. It was funny, relatable, tense, had a late sixties vibe that went so well with the visuals and I was extremely impressed. I still often go around saying NO CAPES! (- this film needs its own blog post where I can go into more detail to be honest.)
So after all this, I was expecting a lot from Tomorrowland. I think the main problem was the method of production because I honestly believe this film would have been better as 2D animation. Bird is no stranger to live action however the concept of this film deserved a more imaginative visual output and you can only do so much in live-action. As I watched the film, I was literally visualising its potential in a language similar to The Iron Giant – I think it would have been amazing and received a lot better this way. As I previously mentioned, the story was just ‘okay’ so it would have helped if the visuals and execution made up for it. In animation, you have the ability to do things differently and make basic scenarios more dramatic without it looking over top. Where there was CGI, it wasn’t the best. The scenes in which it was used took away a wonder and exciting aspect because it looked like it was rushed and thrown in the film unnecessarily.
What I learnt & remembered
Filmmaking is not easy to do at all. Directing a production is a collection of numerous departments and intricate decisions to make a whole, so that also means there are numerous ways in which it can ‘go wrong’.
A director may have one or more successful films but then also be responsible for one film that isn’t too great in comparison and just didn’t work – but that’s okay! (- unless it’s REALLY bad.) We can’t expect them or anyone else to always get it right. Think of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four (2015) … there is so much to say about how bad this film was but I identified a lot of things that were wrong with it which taught me what NOT to do in storytelling. Trank also directed Chronicle (2012) which received so much attention and praise that when it came to his attempted reboot of Fantastic Four, there was a lot pressure. I am sure he learned from the two outcomes of his films and hopefully was not discouraged because I believe Fantastic Four also had potential just like Tomorrowland but the execution and editing was not done well and most important of all, the STORY was not strong! Sometimes it is actually helpful that these things happen because it enables them and some of us artists to learn from this. Bird and Trank are talented directors however they are not perfect.
How can I relate this to my work?
I think I have mentioned this in another post but I have learnt that what you may plan for your vision may not work out the way you want it to and that can be a hard thing to accept. Analysing the ‘bad’ parts in your work (and other’s) can make you aware of what not to do. I pray The Incredibles 2 that will be released in the near future will hold up to its reputation because there was something so special about the first one. I still have hope in Trank and do not believe Chronicle was a fluke just as I believe I will progress and continue to learn from my mistakes because I know I can do better.
Just imagine a drawing of The Iron Giant because the illustration I drew years ago is on the phone that I lost in France 🙂