The Only Difference

I had a very insightful chat with a very dear friend - who happens to also be a playwright - and we were talking about her latest up and coming play. The director is between having a table reading or having a stage reading of the script, and to my own ignorance, I asked what difference would it make between having actors sitting around reading from the script and then having actors read from a script and moving about an imaginary stage. I know the latter from my brief moment in theater, but my friend explained to me how it the difference between just sitting and reading versus physically acting has a huge impact in the way people get into character and deliver the message of the story.

As we continued to talk, a thought about another conversation I had with a filmmaker at the Sunscreen Film Festival crossed my mind. The moment I mention animation to just about anyone not involved with animation, the first thing they’ll mention is how they have an idea for a movie or a show or a short and said project will - by default - often tend to fall into the kids or comedy. Their approach to animation is abundantly foreign and many people really do not see animation is a simply another medium of filmmaking.

When I explained our position on animation production, I simply asked him a question about how he goes about producing the films he makes. With absolute confidence and certainty, he outlines his process going from script to screen. How he also gathers his actors around for a table read of the script and get a solid feel for the story plot. “It’s no different with animation,” I inform him excitedly. His eyes light up as he comes to a moment of clarity.

So why do we treat animation production so differently? Why don’t we have more table or stage readings? Why don’t we create and write stories which are simply good stories? Part of the reasoning behind animations stigma has to do with our lack of knowledge and history and also how the industry - the people and places who make animation - treat making an animated project. Imagine someone writing a script much like The Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia, Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Graduate and then saying how they wanted it animated? Can you see it? Can you imagine it? A dark and gritty, well lit with incredible performance and narrative unlike anything you’ve seen before. In my own involvement of writing and producing more “cinematic” animated productions, my description - or pitch - of the project often leave people in wonderment and start thinking about actors and genre. Animation never crossed their mind until I tell them. And when I do tell them, they do a double take and scratch their heads.

Yes folks. The only difference between filmmaking and animation is the part where you have to draw or paint or model your imagery instead of photographing it.