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Jaws, conflict and subtext

I was watching Jaws the other night and something about this scene really grabbed me. Here’s a quick recap of what had happened in the film up to this point:

Martin Brody and his family have just moved from New York to a New England beach town where Brody now serves as Police Chief. Despite a string of deadly shark attacks, the town’s Mayor brushes off Brody’s demands to close the beach, weighing tourism revenue over public safety. However, the real danger becomes unmistakable July 4th weekend when Brody’s son Michael, barely escapes a shark attack and goes into shock. This clip picks up with Brody, his wife, and their other son at the hospital.

The Hospital from Jaws

When Brody hands his wife their sleeping son and says, “Take him home”, she replies “Like back to New York?” She of course knows that he means to simply take him home and put him to bed. But she uses this opportunity to suggest her true desire to escape the situation and go back to their home in New York. She could have just said, “I want to go back home to New York.” But this could come off as confrontational and unsupportive. Instead, her acting choice to use a question expressed her desire without being forceful. When Brody replies, “No. Home here.” again she avoids confrontation by replying only with her eyes as they both take in the gravity of what he’s really saying: That he’s staying to face the shark. The dialogue could easily have gone something like this:

“Take him home.”
“But I don’t want to stay here. I want to go back home to New York.”
“No. I’m the Police Chief and I have a responsibility to protect these people.”
“Fine!” and she storms off.

Pretty dull right? We’d have conflict but the characters would feel shallow and boring. Yet, they did say all of these things in the subtext of their dialogue. Many movies have turned a likeable character into one you hope gets killed off by simply having them express a natural desire too bluntly, or too often. Not only is her character deepened by her approach, but she also shows us the depth of their relationship. Truly great acting!

Blue Sky Here We Come!

I just got some AMAZING news!  In a couple weeks I’ll be leaving for New York to work on Blue Sky’s upcoming film Peanuts!  I absolutely cannot wait.  Thank you all for the endless patient support and advice!  You guys are the best!

Inspiration from Glen Keane

Glen Keane has been such a source of inspiration to so many. I took a few notes during his commencement speech during graduation, and also at the opening ceremony of CTN where he also spoke. Here are a few badly quoted, but hopefully inspiring tid bits.

“The bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” Maya Angelou

Glen referenced this quote when trying to encourage us to be sincere and vulnerable in our work as animators. To paraphrase he said: Our job is to tell the story of our characters. Of course, without us to animate them, those characters would never come to life. So in turn, our own life experiences inform the decisions we make with our character. He then gave a great example from The Little Mermaid.

He told of how much of a struggle it was to animate Ariel reaching her hand out at the 2:50 second mark. He felt like it was the right action for her to do as a character, but knew that as soon as the guys saw it, they’d all know he was a big sissy! But he animated it that way anyway. He let himself be vulnerable.

Years later, he told us how he met a young woman who had stopped him to tell him something. She asked if her remembered that scene from The Little Mermaid, to which he said “yea yea” ashamedly. “Well” she said, “When I first saw that movie as a child, I stood up in the middle of the theater and reached out my hand too. I wanted to grab Ariel’s hand and pull her into my world.” It was a very humbling experience he said. It taught him, that vulnerability will always resonate in the hearts of your audience.

So he encouraged us to also be vulnerable in our work. To put a piece of ourselves in every shot. Sometimes an idea will come from personal experiences. Other times they might come from a deep part of our personality that even we can’t explain. But if you put that into your work, it will reach people.

Here are a couple videos of the man himself. Enjoy!

CTN 2014

CTN is one of the largest animation conventions in the world. The great thing about CTN is it’s laser focused on all things animation. Recruiters from the major animation studios were there, as well as character design artists, school representatives, and tons of guest speakers and lecturers. It was great meeting so many people just as passionate about this art form! I spent the majority of my time there in workshops and lectures, as well as showing my work to as many people as possible! Here’s a few pics of the convention:

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Los angeles trip 2014 2104 Dice Tsutsumi, former Art Director of Pixar

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Los angeles trip 2014 2096 Legendary animator Eric Goldberg

Animation Mentor Graduation

One of the biggest surprises during the trip to L.A. was during the graduation ceremony. As if it wasn’t enough just meeting so many students and mentors, Bobby had a huge surprise. Our commencement speaker? The legendary Glen Keane!

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