Monday, December 31, 2012

Animation Monday: The Little Girl Who Was Forgotten

A sad story ends the year. No, I don't want to tell you something by putting this up this particular day. I think all days of the year that it is important to be with your children and really see them.

I noted that this is the second animation short here with spoken voice. This time in the form of a voice over. If you are one of those hating voice overs, take a peek at this anyway and tell me why.

Note the girl's face. Is this how her parents see her (when they do)?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cranberry Beauty - Julie Gray's Three Keyword Competition

Since the deadline is passed I think it is safe to post my entry to Julie Gray's December One Scene, One Page, Three Keyword Competition.

The keywords were: Cranberry, Avalanche, Angel

Cranberry Beauty


On a bed of red cranberries a sensual WOMAN covers her naked
body with huge, fluffy angel wings.

More cranberries float down from the sky like snowflakes.


ADEL wakes up in his bed with a smile of deep satisfaction
on his face. Above him in the top bunk is his brother TOM.

What was she like this time? Come
on, bro, I heard you. You had a
good time. What was she like?

Are cranberries a metaphor for


She was lying on cranberries. As an


The woman lies in cranberries making a "snow angel".

The berries get smashed and the red juice becomes smeared
all over her.

And more of them kept falling over

An avalanche of berries fall over the woman. She fights for
her life not to get drowned as the red juice rises.


Tom leans over and looks down and Adel.

You're sick, you know that?

To take negative feedback

To take criticism is not easy. You have written something with passion and spilled your heart into it and then some jerk tells you it’s not good enough. And the same jerk has the guts to offer you the most bizarre ideas to how to change the story. It is not that strange that you act hostile.

But, never, ever let the jerk know that you feel this way. Thank him or her kindly for the time and ask one or two follow-up questions if you feel something is unclear.


Because your criticizer is not a jerk. No matter how idiotic and stupid you feel the feedback was, the so called jerk is a kind fellow who wish for you to develop in your writing. He or she has actually found enough interest in what you presented to give your script a try. Be kind and you might keep a good relationship and get valuable feedback at another time as well. If you act hostile, you will in time lose your options to get your material read at all. You don’t want that.


Because if you don’t write good enough, you need to know. And yes, if you feel that hostile and think the guy is a jerk, your writing is likely crap.

This does not mean that the story and the idea is not good stuff. Neither does it mean that you will never, ever become a great writer. We have all written crap in the beginning. We all write things from time to time that go down in the cylindrical archive.

Bad criticism is not against you. It is aimed at your script. And no matter how much of your passion and pain and love and sweat you have put on those pages, it is still just letters forming words that forms a story for the reader, nothing more. If you have not succeeded to get your passion and pain and love and sweat into suitable words and sentences, it does not matter how much body fluids you have spilled to write it.

Your writing is your product. If it does not stand on its own bringing its message through, you as a writer is the sole responsible for this. It is not the reader’s fault.

Now, what about those crazy, nutcase advises to the story; those ideas that would ruin the whole story? Should I really write what others tell me to write?

No, of course not. You should listen to every advise and all feedback, but don’t take it by the letter. If you get a suggestion that would ruin your story, ask yourself why you get this advice. Probably you have not made a setup good enough to motivate the story as it is now. Remember that you need to explain through your characters and their environment why they do as they do. You cannot just presume that we are all on the same level as you. Much of that kind of feedback is simply based on the writer’s assumption that we all think the same and value the same things. It easily done. But even if you think the readers are idiots who don’t get it, you must remind yourself that if you want to get this magnificent, perfect story through to us jerks (who could just as much be a potential producer) you need to let us know the characters and understand their world.

If you think your script is prefect as it is, let your mom read it. Don’t ask for feedback unless you can take it. And always be kind to those bastards who took their time to read your script, or you will regret it the time you wake up and realizes that you have been the jerk.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The difference between a novel and a movie script

The most obvious difference between a novel and a movie script is the visual format. A movie script follows strict guidelines in its appearance.

Then a movie script is always written in present tense, “he goes”. Most novels are written in past tense, “he went”.

The most difficult thing to grasp is that a movie script only describes what can be seen or heard. There are no thoughts and no backstory.

This may sound simple, and technically it is, but you also want to transfer information which you in a literary work can present like: “The young woman was Sarah and she was half-sister to the princess and dreamed of world peace while she worked as a shepherd. Her best friend was Tommy who she hoped to go to the moon with one day.”

In a movie script all you would be able to write of all this is a young woman herding sheep, because this is the only thing visual. (The name is written in a movie script even if it is never told, just because of readability.) All the other things have to be told in dialog or shown as the story passes by. And it is far better to tell information by adding visual things, than have it spoken.

How to show that she is half-sister to a princess? Well, that depends of course, but one way is to have a fancy car stopping by, the driver opens the door for a young woman in tailored clothes. Our shepherd waves and calls “sis”, but the other one is less eager to return the enthusiasm. When they talk she may say something like “mother sent me to tell you XXXXXX, but father disapprove.” Our shepherd replies “I don’t care what your father thinks.” Yes, this is spoken, but it is not “I’m only your half-sister and my father is the king, yours is a farmer” There are ways to pass information as a combination of visual things and spoken.

The basic idea is it that the movie script should be easy to read, so it is possible to write that Tim is Jacob’s son, especially if they are in the same room and presented in the same time. After all the script is there to help the actors and there is no need for confusion. It is far better to write such things and leave it to the actors to express these things, than write every gesture in the script. One could say that these are visual things compressed into “Tim is Jacob’s son”.

One other thing that a movie script differs from a novel is the time frame. In a movie script one page should equal one minute of film. This means that if you write a lengthy description of a room, you actually guide the camera around the room showing the collection of butterflies, the mahogany bookshelves, the dust of the fruits in the bowl, the pattern on the Persian carpet and so on. This takes time. And transferred to a movie it may become very uninteresting and tiresome. So only keep what is vital for the story and frame the essence of a situation in as few words as possible.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tyler Cowen: Be suspicious of stories

Economist Tyler Cowen talks at TED about the need not to believe everything we see and hear, and be aware that everything is told for a reason.

For some reason there were no embed option for this video but here is a link to the talk.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Animation Monday: The Little Matchgirl

If you celebrate Christmas with you family and friend, also remember how fortunate you are to be able to do so. Remember all those kids who aren't that lucky. Make another child than just your own happy too.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stories for Life: Northern lights

I know this is a commercial for a series of tourist films (from but from a story telling perspective, it is interesting. It is about collecting stories. Where do we find our inspiration to stories? Do you ever go somewhere to find what you are looking for to tell a story?

Here is a link to the video.

The one below is one of those I liked the best from the series:

David Spinx visit Finnmark i Norway and goes hunting for the northern lights.

Here is a link to the video.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tell me about Christmas

I read a question in a forum the other day. A guy wanted to do a Christmas feel-good movie by filming an ordinary family on Christmas and asked if this was a good idea.

No. It is not.

Why? This guy wants to do a feel-good movie about Christmas. He wants to give us this cozy, candle-feeling with all pure joy and happiness. What’s wrong about that? Isn’t that a noble quest? You don’t want conflict on Christmas, right?

Well. . .

Technically, what he describes is a home video. Even if he succeeds in avoiding the sound of crunching paper too close to the microphone and gets decent camera angles, it will still be nothing more than a home video. That is the kind of movie that – might – work for those in the movie, who – with a little luck – re-experience the happy, cozy Christmas again.

Why is that so? Because your memory does not store your life like a movie of reality. And the reason it does not works for me - who wasn't there - is because I see a family open Christmas gifts – it doesn't tell me anything.

“It does not tell me anything.” That, I think is the key. If this guy wants to create Christmas emotions in me, I need to be told that Christmas is all those adjectives that this guy thinks it is. Watching a family celebrate Christmas does not work because I don’t see what they feel.

If you begin with an undecorated home, transforming into a Christmas home, you get a contrast between what it was and what it becomes. Then you have a beginning, but I’ll still not feel a thing when the family gets together and celebrates. To get that, I need to be there. How? If a stranger enters their home, I can feel for the stranger, because he or she comes from the outside. It is someone I can root for because he is someone who is not part of the family, like me.

Alright, we have our stranger there, but if we go back to the original idea to just film a family (with a stranger this time) during Christmas celebrations, there is still the fact that reality is boring. Watching the reality on movie is dull. Yes, you watched your little baby crawl for that hour in real life, but did you ever watch the whole hour video? Probably not.

To create a Christmas feel-good movie we have now got as far as two thirds. We begin with an ordinary, undecorated home and we have our stranger (preferably a homeless or a starving child), but now we need all those things that create sweet memories, served as a quick lunch. Christmas tree with its decorations, the gifts, the Christmas socks, the fire place and the warm fire, the garlands, the mistletoe, the dinner table, the snow, the food, the glögg, the decorations, the crib, the candles, the beautiful clothes, Santa Claus, the music and so on. All that edited into something fairly short and compact and viewed through one of those reddish filters with a little glimmer in the corners.

Did I mention some things that you didn’t recognize? Like “glögg”? That is also something to consider. If you want to give me Christmas emotions, no matter stranger in the house, I need to know that it is Christmas. Maybe there will be things that I don’t recognize? Does it matter? Well, that depends on how well you tell your story.

Because you need to remember that you are telling me about Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

JJ Abrams: The Mystery Box

Writer, director and producer J.J. Abrams talks at TED about storytelling as a Mystery Box.

Here is a link to the talk.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Essentials of Screenwriting

“Essentials of Screenwriting” by Richard Walter - who is a professor and screenwriting chairman on UCLA – is a book that entertained me. If you read a book about how to tell a story the least one could expect is to find the book fascinating and irresistible. Richard Walter succeeded admirably to keep my interest on top all the way through 376 pages.

The book is not only speckled with great knowledge and pieces of advice, but also filled with amusing stories from the authors’ own life, rich of experience and insight.

I would say that this book mostly turns to those new to screenwriting, but has been writing for a little while, and maybe finished their first script. Although I’ve been writing for a long time I found interesting comments and felt enlighten afterwards.

Richard Walter has split the content in four parts: Art, Craft, Business and The Whole Picture (which is basically a case study).

The first part, Art, is about the actual script: how to build a story, theme, structure, to make it personal, writing dialog and formatting.

One thing that especially caught my attention was Richard Walter’s emphasis to put faith in the actor’s ability to deliver a line without the writer of the script underlining words and end sentences with “. . .”. The dialog may appear pretty stiff on the paper without, but just as much as I don’t underline and use (angry)-directions, I can live without the dots as well.

The author also points out the importance to use the environment where the character is; to not place them in a diner just to give them something to do. A very important aspect I think, which I sadly have neglected too often so far.

The second part, Craft, works with you as a writer, how to find a writing habit and to help you to handle criticisms, for example.

To learn to put your ego on the side, to learn when to let go of a script and to find methods to bring out those extraordinary ideas are all important aspects of writing.

Then comes the third part, Business. Although most people say it is almost impossible to get a script sold, Richard Walter’s advice and experience gave me hope when he explained the mechanisms behind things.

The contents of the book is solid, valuable and also fun to read.

There are some areas however which is less explored than one could expect and the subject of characters is one of those. This book is focused on story rather than how to form good characters and even less the use of heroes and villains.

Another neglected area is how to break into the business other ways than sending query letters. There are ways to form a network of people and finally find someone recommending you, and perhaps a little more about the modern social networks on the Internet and its possibilities should have been included.

On the other hand, the title is “Essentials of Screenwriting”, and maybe these two areas are not considered essential by the author.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in screenwriting. Especially to those who want to break into Hollywood.

First version of this entry published Sept 24st 2010

Monday, December 17, 2012

Amination Monday: French Roast

This wonderful short was nominated for an Oscar 2009. I think the storytelling in this one is superb. It may not be one of those artistic shorts and the use of colors and music are minimal, but the storytelling is crisp and  solid nevertheless. Have a good laugh.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Drawing textures - or just enjoy

This is what I always do. No, maybe not. Not even maybe. I don't. And not only because I can't, I don't want to. No, honestly, I don't. I'm not jealous, I'm full of admiration, I just don't feel that this is my style.

I do however like what he did with the eye. After the outline, he finishes the eye. For me, I take the eye much later. Not only because I paint in layers and I can't finish anything in the first round, but also because I know that the eyes are important and I'm terrified of ruin the whole picture with bad eyes.

So I do them last. Just in case.

Makes great sense to you. No? Not to me either.

Here is a link to the tutorial.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Establishing shots or not?

I'm not a filmmaker. I don't hold the camera. I write stories. But as a storyteller I think this video by David Bordwell belongs here. It is about different techniques to edit a movie. In short: establishing shots or not?

I feel that the Hollywood way is safe, but slightly boring. Yes, you don't risk to get the viewer confused and that is good; you don't want to confuse. But on the other hand, the images are part of the story. What we see is the most obvious way to use as a brand of you as a storyteller (director and/or cinematographer). Be a little bold, if you dare.

Constructive Editing in Robert Bresson's Pickpocket from David Bordwell on Vimeo.

Here is a link to the video.

Thank you VoodooFilm for the inspiration

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Making a Good Writer Great

Linda Seger is also the author of "Making a Good Script Great" and "Creating Unforgettable Characters". In my opinion "Making a Good Writer Great" is the best of them. This simply because it addresses the main issue.

"Making a Good Script Great" and "Creating Unforgettable Characters" are good and they contain basic knowledge needed to write a script. But if I manage to write a great script, I want to repeat that success and in that case I have to work with myself as a writer. This is the issue this book addresses.

If you want to become a better writer you have to work, and that means write, often and a lot.

"Making a Good Writer Great" contains several different exercises. No, this is not a book you just read and you are a great writer, this is an exercise book as the subtitle "A creativity workbook" says. Linda Seger wants you to find your “when to write" moment; that time of day or the situations where you work the best. There are also chapters about pushing your mind to new creative levels, how to explore themes and ideas and even explore your dreams at night.

"Making a Good Writer Great" can probably help every writer at most levels to reach a little higher.

First version of this entry published Aug 26st 2008

Monday, December 10, 2012

Animation Monday: I'm not quite sure what it was

This is a short film made to fit a piece of music. It doesn't work with color at all but is purely black and white. It is very surreal and also a bit frightening.

It is made by Rickard Bengtsson, a very talented young man with the future ahead.

"I'm not quite sure what it was" from Rickard Bengtsson on Vimeo.

Rickard Bengtsson tells about the project:
I've been a big fan of music by the great composer Ludovico Einaudi for a long time. About 2 years ago I found this great, very different and mysterious track of his. After searching for it I couldn't find any info on it. Who are the people, where is it from?

Which just made me even more interested and right after hearing it for the first time I knew I had to make an animation for it. It was a project that has always been in the back of my mind and hasnt changed a whole lot since day 1.

3 months ago I started working on it for real. It was my first real venture into cellanimation aswell which was a long and painfull process. But so worth the result! I worked on it inbetween real client projects and when I could make time for it. At this point I don't even know how many hours I've put into it.

I have tried to get in touch with Ludovico Einaudi/his people regarding this project cause I'd love for them to see it. But every email adress I've been pointed to either is not functional or I haven't gotten a reply.

All the credit for the orginal music of course goes to him. I'm merly an artist doing what I have to - create. Inspired by his work.

Extra sound design to the project is created by Vince Kriss, co-worker at Adme.

Rickard Bengtsson

Ludovico Einaudi - Prima

Sound Design
Vince Kriss

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I can be found

I can now be found on, thanks to Jerry White III and Walking the Graveyard and all the fabulous cast and crew who did a tremendous job. I'm here. 2012 was the year, after all.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Christmas Story

Once upon a time there was a big, big company producing soft drinks. They were so big that their name was known in every country of the world.

In a small, small country they had hired a local brewing company to make and sell their products. The people in the small, small country were a strange folk however; they didn’t drink the big, big company’s soft drinks for Christmas, but something called “julmust”*.

The big, big company told the local brewing company in the small, small country that they had to stop making “julmust” since it competed with the big, big company’s products.

The local brewing company in the small, small country refused. They had the best “julmust” in the country and was not about to give it up.

The big, big company got angry and withdraw their license and established themselves in the small, small country.

When Christmas came closer they sent commercials on the TV-channels and put up posters on the bus stops telling the people in the small, small country that the big, big company’s major soft drink with its read and white label was perfect for Christmas.

The impact of the commercial was prominent.

The big, big company's selling of soft drinks dropped immediately.

And the local brewing company in the small, small country sold more bottles of “julmust” than ever before.

The next Christmas the stubborn people in the small, small country found a new label of “julmust” in the stores with all the required features and a genuine look 'n' feel.

With small, small letters the name of the big, big company could be read: “the Coca-Cola Company”.

First published 10th of December 2009

* From Wikipedia: “Julmust” is made of carbonated water, sugar, hop extract, malt extract, spices, caramel colouring, citric acid, and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat beer-like taste, but much sweeter and, since it is not fermented, it contains no alcohol. 45 million litres of “julmust” are consumed during December (to be compared with roughly 9 million Swedes), which is around 50% of the total soft drink volume in December and 75% of the total yearly must sales.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ryan Lobo: Photographing the hidden story

Photographer and filmmaker Ryan Lobo talks at TED about unusual human lives which he caught a glimpse of with his camera.

Here is a link to the talk.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: Creating Unforgettable Characters

Linda Seger’s book Creating Unforgettable Characters was published 1990 but is still valid. How can it be anything else?

Creating Unforgettable Characters contains the basic knowledge about the art to create characters for a movie script. This is the book for the beginner that has not yet learned all the basic skills of screenwriting. Creating Unforgettable Characters gives you a lot of valuable information that will come in handy when you work on your script.

As a matter of fact, I would say that it is useful when writing most types of stories; not only movie scripts.

It starts with a chapter about research and continues through back story, psychology, relationships and dialog to end at a chapter that will help you to go beyond stereotyping. All this is vital stuff.

Creating Unforgettable Characters is not a bible that will give you all the answers and characters served on a plate. It will, hopefully, give you the insight and knowledge you need when you use your own talent and head and write.

Linda Seger's book is easy to read. She knows how to handle her language and the text.

First version of this entry published Aug 21st 2008

Monday, December 3, 2012

Animation Monday: Flyboy

While all the other animation I have posted here so far has been short films that I liked one way or the other, this is one that I don't fancy much. Last week I - once again - mentioned the colors used, and then I remembered this one, because of its lack of colors. I figured that maybe this had its place here as well.

In this one I really miss the use of colors. I think it would have added tremendously to let them shift with the story.

Here is a link to the film.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Movies: Prelinger Archives

There are thousands of film at the Prelinger Archives, free to use.

They are movies where the copyright is outdated and therefore belongs to the public domain. This means that they are rather old and the format is less favorable than today's but never the less they are there and free to use.

There are both documentaries, things used in newscasts and such, and a variety of fiction films, some animated.

One favorite is this one about a toy truck.