Met with my character designer (Deanna Marsiglese!) this past week to talk about bringing Birdie, Cash and Babette to life visually. (I actually only gave them names recently so I wouldn't have to keep saying 'the woman', 'the man', 'the other woman' etc. It was getting confusing.) We ended up chatting until the cafe closed and we got kicked out! I love my characters but I feel like I'm still discovering who they are. With Larra, she helped me clarify the story lyrically and Deanna will get into the characters heads to bring them about visually. I was always told by my teachers and other writers that you need to know your characters... really know them. What do they eat for breakfast and the colour of their toothbrush, as many details as you can gather. For the short format film, I'm not sure if I want to get to know them that well. I think for Pickled it's fine to not have that many details on the characters. I made it clear to the other artists I'm working with that it's a collaboration. I'm eager for them to have a point of view and bring that to the table.
I don't feel comfortable getting too serious about storyboards just yet, I want to have finished music with lyrics first. I think the designs Deanna sends my way will be a huge inspiration. I feel like all the artists on this project (including me) and the work they do is going to inform me enough of who the characters are when I need that information for animation. The story didn't require intense personal knowledge of my characters.
Anyway... Deanna was trying to get information out of me on the character's personalities. One thing she asked about is Cash and Birdie's marriage and how that works... How can two people be together and not have a sex life? I guess I didn't think about it too much since the idea of Birdie even wanting to have sex doesn't seem like it would happen... I imagine her to be robotic and conservative, she 'fits in because it's what you do' and is a little brainwashed by the whole era she lives in. She is sheltered, uncreative and proud. Sex is probably something she doesn't think about a lot. I don't even imagine that she says much to Cash. They live in a sort of understood existence. She's like a caged bird. She isn't caged by her husband, but by her own expectations and beliefs. I think if Birdie was a little more healthy minded, life with Cash would be pretty good. If you have mature characters in your story, considering their sex life makes a lot of sense. (As far as letting that knowledge help inform you who your characters are.) Now it seems strange not to consider it.
I also learned the difference between character design and concept art. Concept art comes first, it is basically an artist at play with very little visual cues as a starting point. The artist figures out a look and a direction to move visually. The character designer will take that concept work and build on it. Often in a studio it means strictly adhering to an established style and making turnarounds and new designs. I've asked Deanna to do both concept art and design. I understand the difference between them, but didn't realise that they were often so segregated. For a short film it seems pretty appropriate to ask an artist to do concept and design. It seems fairly freeing as one or a group of artists could bring a character to life from concept to finished look instead of having to adhere to an established style or hand your work off to be finished up and walk away.
I'm so excited to see what Deanna comes up with!