Monday, February 16, 2009

Laying Odds on Best Screenplay

The L.A. Times profiles Oscar nominee Wall-E in the screenplay category:

... As a page of "Wall-E's" nominated screenplay dramatizes, an animated script can be a complex document, particularly when you don't have nouns and verbs to help explain a character's feelings. The beeps in "Wall-E," particularly, are not random sounds -- in fact, a look at the script shows that each beep can be translated into a specific line of dialogue. "Every sound he makes carries some meaning," says Ben Burtt, who provided Wall-E's voice design and was the film's supervising sound editor ...

Setting aside the criticism of Wall-E's second and especially third act, any animated feature screenplay has hurdles to jump over on its way to Academy gold.

First, it isn't under the Writers Guild's jurisdiction. That's a major impediment. Second, there's the inbred snobbishness about the legitimacy of animation. For many Academy members, it's a second-tier art form, particularly when Oscars are handed out,.

Lastly, any animated feature worth its weight in gold-plated statuettes isn't just created on the written page. Script is important, but storyboard work is crucial; it's where character, plot and dialogue are worked and reworked the way a baker gneads warm dough.

If you don't have talented storyboard artists on an animated feature, you don't have a film with life or snap. Because as much as writers are needed on any feature-length motion picture -- and they are needed -- writers are a smaller part of the total movie equation in the animated universe.

Sitting here in my dull, late-night stupor, I can think of only one cartoon feature where a single individual wrote and storyboarded the entire project, front to back. The film was One Hundred and One Dalmations, and the individual was Bill Peet.


Anonymous said...

pretentious, moi?

Anonymous said...

"pretentious, moi?"

Anonymous- "Moi" means "me".

Anonymous said...

Hats off to all animation story artists. They are authors and deserve to be acknowledged, and compensated, in kind.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and the alternative to changing things is SO much better.

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