A story is bound to have gone through many changes, and every change is a carefully considered decision. Today, we would like to share the process on how reached the final version of our film. These were the guidelines:
Act01 had to establish that Ana has been searching for a way home, who then bumps into this little creature Crawley, who becomes her companion. The segment had to show Ana coming out of her safe zone (the crash) and into uncharted territories.
Act02‘s purpose was to develop Ana and Crawley’s friendship and show a little bit about the world. Their decisions and personality must play off each other well because this friendship must build up to the pay-off in the next act.
Act03 showcases the culmination of the friendship between Ana and Crawley. Ana will eventually reach her goal, but her resolve must be tested. The ending is bittersweet.
First Draft Act01 – Ana had to fight against the cold conditions of the planet, using Crawley’s natural warmth to get to her destination. This made Crawley very dependent on Ana’s food supplies, which was a little too one-dimensional. We ultimately removed the flash-freeze.
First Draft Act02 – It contains our favorite moments of the film – the journey. We first envisioned it to be a montage of how Ana and Crawley grew to be friends, with Crawley showing a little of it’s world to Ana and finally accepting her as a friend. We just had to use the theme song of Brother Bear! Despite being our favorite segment, it lacked conflict and very little change to show character development.
First Draft Act03 – Ana and Crawley navigate the dangerous mountain to her spacecraft. Ana chooses to save Crawley. Ana gives her watch to Crawley, a symbol of their friendship (leashed!) Sadly, this entire segment was axed by our producer because of the sheer amount of character assets. Boo.
After completing our first draft, we had a major setback. No one could get behind Ana. Ana had the smoothest journey ever for a protagonist and the montage was extremely flat. We had to inject more ups and downs in the story. It was back to the drawing boards.
Second Draft Act01 – Ana meets Crawley, but the call to action is slightly faster this time. Crawley is shown to be very curious but extremely helpful, helping Ana out of the brambles. It was better.
Second Draft Act02 – Crawley taps on Ana to help the crabs out. As Ana has been rushing to get off the planet, Crawley takes the chance to show Ana it’s world. It became more of their journey rather than the journey, which we loved watching much more.
Second Draft Act03 – The danger scene is better fleshed out. Layout was confusing at first, but we did had to thoroughly decide the course of action for the transition into 3D space. Crawley takes center stage, stepping up to help Ana, calling on it’s friends for help. The Manta saves her escape pod. The farewell scene is firmly established. Placeholder music. Mock-up credits.
A bonus video of the entire second draft, lovingly done in 3D animation. Yes we went into production (Do not ever do this!) and most of it was cut. We are sorry, my dear animators.
Third Draft Act01 – Ana is shown to have suffered a bit more from her crash compared to the last edit. The mood was established and we felt this was a very compact start to the film. At this point, everything was quickly composited in 3D because we were running out of time.
Third Draft Act02 – Crawley saves Ana! But Crawley messes up, ruining Ana’s watch and her ticket home. Ana eventually forgives Crawley, and the friendship is forged. We decided to keep manta flight because we loved how their friendship could reach *cough*new heights*cough*.
Third Draft Act03 – At this stage, we kept most of the animation – the only ones left. Emphasis was placed on the emotional beats of the farewell. Ana cried a little too much, the crew deemed it was too exaggerated. But that’s…animation…right?