Monday, May 27, 2013

"Lost On The Trail" Part I

This is awkward, it's been so long since my last post I feel weird just jumping back in and acting as though I just wrote a blog post last week. I admit it's been awhile, actually, it's been a long while, sorry (awkward shoulder shrug). I'm not going to make a bunch of excuses, I'll just inform you of what I've been up to and you might be more inclined to forgive me after you hear why I haven't posted. So, here we go.

Last time I posted I was starting a new chapter in my life, leaving a really good position at Pixar to join a bunch of very courageous people who were going to launch a new animation studio down in my home state of Florida. With great reluctance and scrutiny, particularly from my wife (her intuition was telling something didn't smell right with the whole thing). We agreed to entertain this golden opportunity. The CEO of the company flew out to San Francisco to speak to me and my wife (talk my wife into the venture). She questioned him up and down over dinner. He assured us that this was a sound opportunity for our family. I new it was risky and so did my wife but the job opportunities and the job advancements were to good to pass up. Now, you should know that we were reassured (lied to) that night by the CEO. He told us that the studio and film were in a great financial place, and he told us if all else fails that the he could and would finance the film himself. I felt most of the risk was on me doing my part as in getting the film done and me performing my new duties. You can ask anyone who knows me, I am a man of conviction and I follow through on my commitments to the very end. I knew I would not fail or fall short of finishing my task no matter what kind of obstacles got in my way. So, no risk I could over come.

Here are some of the things we had to do just to get to Florida and start working in this new studio. We had to short sale our house in California (huge lose for us). Cash in all of our savings. Find and buy a new house (most difficult in todays economy). I lived apart from my family for months on end. We pulled our children out of school and away from their friends and the only life they knew. Left a phenomenal church, with many loving brothers and sisters. I think you get the picture. 

After the dust settled life started to get back to normal, kind of.  I became deeply consumed (to a fault) in the demands of the new job. The tasks before me was to help build a working animation studio, my new duties as the head of story were to include helping to develop five viable film ideas, train a story intern, hire and run a crew of story artist, visual development for the various films, write a treatment with the writer on one of the particular film ideas. Later, after we selected "TEMBO" as the idea we wanted to pursue my tasks increased. Now I was finding myself in creative meetings with the directors and a writer beating the story out. When I wasn't in one of those grueling meetings, I was either boarding my own sequence or in an editorial session which last up to 5 or 6 hours at times. Mean while I was still helping at times with the art department and doing scratch dialog for Ketchaa, one of the main characters and several secondary characters. I also had two novice story artist that need constant attention and soon found myself also dealing with a less than cooperative story artist. Oh yeah, I also had three story artist that were out of the state and one of which was in England. Hey, I was okay with all of it. Marching forward I realized things weren't exactly what I pictured they would be but so be it. 
Then I find out I have a major health issue and would soon find myself with out a job because that lying CEO screwed up and ended up getting the studio shut down. Out of a job, just like that, no warning, no grace period. Friday is your last day, no more pay checks. No reimbursement of unused vacation days, nothing. My complete dedication was rewarded with a big fat nothing.

It is important to note that two day before they closed the studio down I spoke with that lying CEO who once again said right to my face that everything was fine, he was working it out, the studio was okay. After awhile I guess they just thought it was okay to just lie about everything. They said we would be able to come back into the studio after a few days to gather our personal things so not to worry about getting it all out in the short amount of time they had given us. They never let us back in and auctioned of our personal items (despicable don't you think).

Needless to say I was freaking out, what the F___ was I gonna do now? I got a phone call within a few days from one of the best people I have ever worked with, Brenda Chapman, the Director of "BRAVE". She helped me to land a story position at DreamWorks were I've been working for the last seven and half months. I have lived in three different location since I've been in California apart from my wife and three children who are still in Florida trying to sell our house. Mean while still dealing with my health issue which has moved to a new level of treatment. So, now you know.
This is one of the beats in the the film "BRAVE". They are illustrations that capture an important moment in the film's story. I love doing these, I get to stretch my illustration wings a bit.

These beats were drawn up for Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson who took a pass at "Brave" 

These were beats are of the Queen preparing the castle for the visiting Lords. Doing these beat
illustrations or storybeats can save story artists from doing a lot of unnecessary boarding by getting these in place and making sure they are the right direction to precede. 

These are more story beats but in no particular order or even in the same sequence

I realize that some of these drawings are repeats but they are all on one file so they accompanied the ones you haven't seen. Mordu ideas.
This was one of the first ideas I drew up. I wasn't even sure what the story was yet. This was way back when there was a funeral procession for mom and the triplets because everyone thought they were dead. The story of "BRAVE" is very different from the first draft.

A story beat of the queen as a bear being discovered by the royal dogs. They loved her and almost give her position to Dad who is trying to kill her.
Repeat from above. The Queen preparing, multitasking as her maidens follow her around.
These are all a little different. I was trying to sell the idea that the Queen, which is now a bear was trying to disguise herself as the King and gain entry to the castle. I was trying to stage it so it was somewhat believable from the guards perspective that she could be the King.

This is a repeat from above as well. I loved drawing these guys, particularly Dingwall.
This is an actual story panel that had a camera move with it. It eventual tracked the entire royal family
coming down the stairs and walking up to the guards.
This is the King returning back to the castle from the hunt. He is caught in a white out snow storm so as he is walking forward he is searching the air with his hand. It was a lot hard to draw convincingly than you would think.
A story board of Mom bear and Mordu facing off in the climax of the film.
An inspirational drawing I did for nothing, well, except to be inspired.

Next post is part II of "Lost On The Trail"
all the drawings will be from the unreleased film "TEMBO"

1 comment:

  1. -B-
    Mr. Craig,
    Those Brave story sketches have book illustration qualities, to stare at them for hours discovering or details, composition, lighting...
    They shouldn't be "wist" on screen for few seconds!
    You should start making children books with your talent to preserve "Disney" style nostalgia.
    You are very, very God gifted man!