Thursday, April 16, 2015

Concept Art: Opal & Redthred

A reminder of what these posts are about: I've been working with the students at Falmouth's Animation and Visual Effects course  to develop some brief outlines for animated show - my outlines, their art.

The second brief is for an idea called OPAL & REDTHRED. Longtime blog readers might remember this is something I've developed before, with the ace illustrator Sarah Gordon, as a short webcomic called BRIDGE & TUNNEL. I really wanted to come back to this world though, so I thought I'd see what the students would do with it.

Here's the brief:


Animated series for 8-12 yrs.

Opal’s an axe-obsessed dwarf princess and the chosen Champion of Light, Rethred’s a mopey wizard whose power comes from the Dark (but he’s not ‘evil’, he’s quite specific about that). Together, they’re dedicated to defend the fantasy world of Erithea from all magical dangers. Unfortunately, the fantasy world of Erithea has moved on a bit, and now everyone has tablets, libraries, school buses and clean toilets, and doesn’t really need champions any more. 
In a world where trolls drive buses, goblin caverns double as sports arenas and elves are always the coolest kids at school, there isn’t much heroic fantasy adventuring to go around any more. Which doesn’t mean Opal and Redthred won’t do their utmost to go out there and find it.

Based in the (mostly) human city of Scälmo, Opal Signisdottir (who’s run away from her stern father the Dwarf King) and Redthred the Unsure (Dark Wizard in training) are officially allowed to reside in the Enchanted Tower of Destiny, and skip most of their lessons, on condition they maintain a watchful eye for magical threats of all kinds. And when those don’t appear, which they usually don’t, they spend their time adopting magical pets, finding treasure, eating spicy kobold pizzas, exploring magical underground cave systems (sewers) and generally getting into more trouble than if they actually were battling magical threats.
Here be de art:
Firstly, Emily Gray's take on Opal, who I saw as part Princess Leia, part girl Gimli:

... which were great. Then she went with shorter hair, a bit harder edged, which I liked. I was tempted to move to something more cartoony, but decided to let Emma keep working in a more naturalistic style, see how it worked.

 Here's Emma fleshing out the world a bit with some more non-human characters:

... and a bit of the central location, the city of  Scälmo.

And finally here's Emma's take on the depressed student/wizard character Redthred, who looks UNCANNILY like me circa 1991.

So yes, these were great. 
Rachel Denton did some more cartoony/younger style takes on Opal as well, which were lovely and sparky:

The stickers on the axe were a particularly nice touch. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Delivery Man, tonight 9.30pm ITV

Argh bloody hell there's a sitcom starting tonight and I wrote somewhere between a third and one half of it*, put it down to administrative error on ITV's part.

What happened was, ages ago, I caught up with Victoria Pile (creator and producer of Smack The Pony, Green Wing, Campus) and her common law illegal immigrant (Scotch) partner Rob Harley (writer and producer on the above) in London, and they said 'we've got some projects on the go, dunno if you're interested in writing for some of them', and I steepled my fingers like this *steeples fingers* and said 'proceed', and they said '(first thing I've forgotten) and then (second thing I've forgotten) and also we're doing this thing with Darren Boyd as an ex-cop who quits the force and becomes a male midwife' and I was all 'Hellloooooo!'

Because my memory is narrative-based rather than working on the tradition 'reality' base of most hu-mans, this bit might be wrong, but I think what happened next is they gave me two thirds of a script that they'd been stalled on for six months, and I arsed about with it for a bit and then it was INSTANTLY greenlit by ITV. Okay that probably wasn't what happened, but I'm going with it.

So yes, lots of readthroughs and rewrites and auditions later - look, here's a picture of one of the readthroughs: all got filmed in a big shed somewhere in Walford or Charnham or on the Jasmine Allen or one of those London places, and I was there for a couple of days and had to tell Paddy McGuinness to please say 'vanilla monolope' like it does in the script, it'll make sense when it comes out, honest, and then it was ready to go out, BAM, it's magic.

LOL, as David Cameron likes to say, it wasn't like that at all, because a half hour comedy on a commercial channel these days is twenty two minutes thirty seconds, so poor Christian in the edit suite had to spend ages trimming bits and holding them up to the light and tutting and trimming more bits, but now it's READY so watch it, or don't, up to you.

*estimates may vary