WHAT IS YOUR STYLE?
September 14, 2011 10:43 Filed in: Work
When you begin to create your independent anime, or animation works, and really make them yours, it is absolutely necessary to discover what is your true style. If you're doing your first project, you most likely won't find this. Your first project will very likely be heavily influenced by all of the things you have seen that inspired you to follow this path in the first place. Your first work will probably contain a fair amount of imitation, based on the works you love, perhaps those of your childhood or those that are a great inspiration to you now. When you get down to the actual doing of your work, though, you true style will begin to dictate itself to you. You will know this by how you feel about the doing.
I remember a comment, long ago, on the old version of this site, where someone mentioned that they had to get through the boring bits, or parts they don't like in their project in order to get to the stuff they enjoy. I replied to that commenter that when you create your own independent anime project, it should never have boring bits or parts you don't like. If your project has parts you don't like, is it really your project? The whole point of independent animation is to do creative work you want. If you are spending your time and effort on parts you don't like, you may as well go work for someone else. At the very least, you need to seriously consider why you are doing this project and who you are doing it for.
My past projects contained both a lot of influence from the things I liked at the time, and a good dose of those "boring bits" or parts I didn't like doing. If you look at my latest project, though, you can see I am moving away from both of those obstacles to creative expression. I don't mind, though, as the whole thing has been a learning experience. I had to learn to separate what I enjoy watching from what I enjoy making. I watch and love a large variety of movies, TV Shows, anime, and even game cut scenes. Just because I love watching these things, it does not follow that I should equally love to make something like that. I had to learn that what you enjoy making has to be about what you enjoy making! Notice the present, active tense. It's not about the end result. It's about the doing.
I remember watching one of those lectures that film director Kevin Smith is famous for. He often travels to various universities, around the world, and gives talks on the industry and his life and work. In one instance, he talks quite a bit about why he passed on doing the $70 million USD budget The Green Hornet picture and opted to do Clerks II instead. Of course, one of the reasons was creative control, which would never exist on such an expensive Hollywood picture. There was, however, another reason he explained in detail. This reason was more about the doing. He talked about the difference between working long hours on his funny, dialogue heavy comedy versus working on an epic action picture. These differences he learned by doing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which had a considerable amount of action compared to his usual work. He discovered that he hated working those long hours to only end up with a few seconds of finished product at the end of the day. His style was dictating itself to him, and he learned by doing.
My experience has been quite similar. I may love to watch an epic fantasy movie with huge army battles, but I would never want to do one. Actually, I tried, though on a smaller scale, in my old Daniel project, which had a battle scene. I remember it took days to do one shot. It was excruciating and then I wasn't even happy with the final result. I learned by doing, and discovered what things I like to do and what things I do not like to do, and as such, may hold me back.
Now what about those who may ask, "What if your story requires you to do the army battle?" This should be impossible. If your story can require, or worse, demand anything from you, it is not your story. At this point you need to ask why this element has appeared in it. Was it because you want to do it, or because you thought you had to do it to please someone else? Shakespeare's stories have huge army battles that take place entirely off the stage. A wounded soldier may walk in and through him we learn what is happening or what has happened in said battle. The events of the story are the same. It is all in how you tell it. You get to choose. That battle need not be in there unless you first want to do the battle. Only by doing it, though, will you be able to know if that is your style, or if you're still trapped in the style of someone else.
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