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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inspired by awesome Perth artist Shaun Tan

Jean-Luc Godard's AlphavilleIt's been more than two weeks since I've spoken about my upcoming sci-fi short film. But then, come to think of it, I have actually ceased updating this site on a daily basis. Yes, I have been THAT busy. Working on a documentary, battling security forces of the university who are preventing me from shooting my short film in the toilet, and toiling non-stop with my screenplay for the sci-fi short film.

I don't think I have announced it here before, the title of the short film is Girl Disconnected.

If you are new, or you have forgotten about the basic concept of the sci-fi film, well, here's the entry to jog your memory. It was originally meant to be based loosely on this short tale I wrote about the Internet collapsing entirely (or to be more precise, stolen by this evil massive conglomerate called YahooGleSoft) and the heroine, Maya, had to begin a quest to restore the internet to the world. This project managed to evolve much throughout the past 6-7 weeks since its inception. From a mockumentary, it turned into a drama that had elements of romance and satire in it, my musings during the evolution can be read here, and then, in the end, I examined the themes I was playing around with for the Girl Disconnected, which should be the very last entry I wrote about it.

Even so, I realized that the settings, interesting it may be, were definitely too large for a short film. Come on, something about a city of people dealing with the loss of the internet isn't something you can cram into a short film when there are so many subplots and tales to tell about those people. And most unfortunately, due to the fact that I had to look at the big picture while writing this screenplay (unlike most others in the screenwriting class, who are only supposed to write a screenplay, and not expected to really make those films any time soon, I am writing a screenplay for a short film I have to work on during the second half of the year). And if I remained stubborn and intend to do a story that takes place in a postapocalyptic futuristic city, even lighting the shots differently and using bizarre camera angles will not prevent this film from being difficult to make (especially since it had some insanely large cast playing the numerous people in a city) Most of all, the story is grounded by logic, and my screenwriting class is asking for some narrative drama with emotional resonance, anything too abstract will be bad. Once I questioned myself about the logic of the story, I knew I was screwed.

David Lynch's EraserheadSo I shifted the settings. Instead of a story about a girl searching for her boyfriend in a postapocalyptic internet-less city, where I get to give a social commentary about the current internet culture and trend (which will mean that it's not universal enough), I've decided to shift the story to an alien planet. Less grounded by logic, more room for creativity. More like Shaun Tan's picture books last Saturday, when I was in this science fiction/fantasy bookshop called Fantastic Planet. His artwork is so amazing and unique that I started reading the three picture books that were available there, The Rabbits, an allegorical fairy tale about overpopulation, colonization and industrialization. The Lost Thing, about how a seemingly normal boy found some alien robot creature type thingie, which is some allegory about how people cease being amazed about the world as they grow older. And then, there's his latest called The Red Tree, which is about childhood depression, which is so inspiring and optimistic in the last few pages that I almost wished I was a child when reading it. Each of the books I've mentioned have won major literary awards in Australia. I will say that he is the Australian counterpart of famous Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy/Ji Mi (his site is only available in Chinese though, if you're curious to know what his drawings are like, check this), the guy whose graphic novels were adapted into films like Turn Left, Turn Right and Sound Of Colours. Oh, and he lives in Perth! Here are some of his works.

The Rabbitship from Shaun Tan and John Marsden's The Rabbits

Another picture by Shaun Tan

So after buying The Rabbits for reference, I thought 'hey, why the hell not push my short film to something more fantastical and childlike? Why so morose and depressing? Why not something that is more similar to my actual writing style? Something more conventions-defying, genre-breaking and fantastical/fabulous, yet with obvious undercurrents of everything I want to express (let's face it, unless you're incapable of understanding irony or sarcasm, most of my creative writings have some pretty obvious messages). In the end, it became a tale of a girl who took a bus (or a train) that FLEW HER TO THE MOON to find her boyfriend. And since this is a fairy-tale of sorts, don't expect the moon to be the one with nothing but craters and rock, where people can only navigate around dressed up as astronauts. The moon in my intended short form actually has CHANG ER, yes, the Moon Goddess from Chinese mythologies, and RABBITS (like Chinese and Japanese mythologies) in it. Well, that's the most I can tell you about it, I'll keep you all updated some other time. It'll be something more similar to Terry Gilliam's Brazil or Baron Munchausen or something, and also the story-within-the-story in Wong Kar Wai's 2046. Try to imagine what it's like...

Now, don't you think Shaun Tan's artwork is awesome?