Developing Makos Character

When I originally conceived the character of Mako I imagined him as a child around the age of 8, this can be seen in my initial drawings of him in which he is a lot shorter and chubbier than his final version turned out to be.
I had planned for him to be around the age of 8 as it allowed me to easier show his child like innocence and capitalize on his possible lack of understand to his situation.

I originally drew him with wide eyes which carried a lot of detail, the aim of this was to focus on the eyes in the art style and have them convey most of his unspoken emotion. I tinkered with several drawings to try and refine this but I found the bulbous almost alien eyes did not convey emotion as much as make him look odd.
Due to this I began looking at other anime art styles and began to try and replicate it myself to make Mako look more human. I began looking at the company Shonen Jump who produce some of the most popular manga in the world to see how they draw their characters. After much practice and research I managed to find a set of eyes that were still able to convey emotion yet also fit my initial character designs.


This was my first glimpse at how Mako was going to look.
By having this image I was finally able to begin visualizing him in my story, how he fit into the world I had imagined but it also affected the dialogue I had previously wrote.
He looked the right age but when reading back my dialogue with this image in mind, he didn’t fit what the character was saying. The speech he was using seemed too mature and the subject matter he was dealing with seemed way beyond his depth, this was when I realized rewrites and alterations to the character were needed.
My inital drawing for Mako however came out with everything I wanted to portray within the art style and was a good jumping off point in developing the art style and my characters.

While reviewing my dialogue I noticed that Mako seemed more like child about to enter his teens, he seemed filled with angst and his utter disinterest in everything around him further perpetuated this idea. With this in mind for my second draft I wrote his dialogue in a more mature fashion, instead of being in wonder at everything around him and afraid of the characters he would face, he became more sure of himself and instead of being afraid of the characters, he would taunt them. An example of this is when he stands up to the character of Toe and refuses to leave until he gets what he wants, this scene could be seen as a tantrum which I feel still works due to his age but is also a nice call back to the younger age I originally thought Mako would be.
By constantly rewriting his dialogue I got a better image in my head of how Mako would look at this new age, messy hair, baggy shirts, hands in his pockets and a disinterested look on his face. All these were elements that would go into his final draft and made the character that much more real.



Kubler Ross Model and how I intend to manifest the stages

The kubler ross model is more commonly known as the five stages of grief and was first introduced by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
The theory breaks down the stages of personal loss and grief that people go through in relation to death and loss while also helping to develop the practices and understanding of bereavement.
This theory is what I have based my short script Mako on as it follows a young boy into a supernatural world which embodies the separate stages of his grief.

The model breaks down the stages as follows:


It has been stated that not everyone follows these steps exactly but the model itself is a good way of understanding and rationalizing the emotions of those experiencing a great personal loss.
The theory is not only relative to death but can also been seen in those who have gone through a life altering experience such as divorce, loss of a job or substance abuse.
The theory is useful in that it can be applied to many situations and helps you see a glimpse into the mindset of others who have experienced such a dramatic change.
The fact that this theory can be applied to a variety of situations allows us to look deeper into each stage and see what events trigger certain emotions and understand psychologically how different people deal with these feelings.
Many can see death as the ultimate emotional trauma but this is different from person to person and how they handle their emotions, as stated earlier any form of loss can trigger this profound grief, this is something that I seek to explore within my script as people have different coping mechanisms. One mechanism that can commonly be seen are those who are in shook from the event, in which the sufferer becomes almost numb to the world around them as they are still trying to process the new information presented to them, another is those who take of others during their own shock and bereavement as it helps them organize their thoughts and cope with their own grief. This is something I have attempted to implement with the parental figures within Mako, not only are they the care giver archetypes of my story but they are handling their grief through taking care of their son and nursing him through his own.
My main protagonist Mako is on the other end of the spectrum who can be seen in shock with his lack of emotion and response to anything in front of him, It is not until he travels to the supernatural world that he comes out of shock and begins to face the stages of grief.
Through my own personal experiences with grief and loss I know that these two coping mechanisms exist and what role they play within the grieving process, adding my own perspective to this model has allowed me to shape the story in a more down to earth way.

– At the stage of denial it is easy to see how ones behavior may be, like with substance addiction or loss of a relationship it is common for the suffer to not acknowledge the problem or for them to think that they can fix it quickly. Denial is the refusal to accept the new information presented to you or information that may already be lingering in the mind, this sums up perfectly the psyche of someone suffering with grief as it has been described as the refusal or inability to comprehend a situation that juxtaposes what you want or believe.
A common sign of denial in those who have a substance abuse problem is that they will simply ignore the advice of others and simply carry on with their day to day lives, I have tried to reflect this with my manifestation of denial, an endless carnival.
The location of a carnival or street party seemed like the ideal place to show the contrasting emotions as everyone present in the scene is simply carrying on with no regard for others, this can be seen with setting off fireworks in the street and simply ignoring those that attempt to interact with them.

-At the stage of anger it is easier to imagine that emotion as it is something that we feel without grief, the anger shown here however is one that is directed at everything around the sufferer. Those that are suffering from withdrawal may have outbursts toward others around them, isolating and distancing those closest to them, I tried to reflect this possible outcome of anger by manipulating the crowd at the carnival, but making them become shadowy figures whose eyes became fixed on Mako. By adding this change to the people in the scene it shows a representation of the distance the people around Mako now have, pushing them away not at a pyshical level but an emotional one, as the setting reflects Mako’s emotional state this new stage of grief is able to manifest shifting the crowd back to strangers and representing how those suffering from intense anger in their grief may do the same to those around them.
Another representation of anger is through the dragon, transforming this set piece into a character enables me to play with fire. Fire can be seen as a tool for destruction, burning metaphorical bridges and again highlighting the possible distance Mako’s anger is pushing the people around him to.
The second reason for utilizing fire is due to the old religious belief that it cleanses and its use during 16th century capital punishment for crimes like heresy or witchcraft.
The belief that burning the body meant the soul had nothing to return to in the next life is something I find interesting and is something that I wish to utilize in the script, as the story focuses on a boy chasing his grandfathers spirit through what seems to be an afterlife. It is only fitting that the use of fire not only cleanses the souls of those in the scene allowing them passage into the afterlife but also burns through the spiritual manifestation of Mako’s denial into anger in a type of emotional and spiritual cleanse.

-Bargaining can be defined as trying to get a better deal, haggling with another to get something you want, within the stages of grief this can be perceived as turning toward a higher power and asking for change. This can be seen as a state of panic as the realization of your situation has begun to settle in.
You compromise and promise change in yourself or offer something you believe is of equal value to get something you want, within the stages of grief in relation to death, the result will always end in an unfavorable outcome leading to the next stage.
Within my script I introduce a character named Toe who is there to answer Mako’s pleas and offer him a deal to get what he wants, this character is a trickster and will always rig the deal for a better outcome on his end. The reason that this is important is to relate to those in grieving who ask a higher power for the return of their loved one but their pleas are ultimately left unanswered.
This stage can lead back to anger as the person experiencing their grief may feel cheated reverting them back to brief moments of anger.

-Depression is the lowest stage emotionally speaking, it is where the realization of your grief  has set in and although you have begun to accept the situation your strong emotions still remain.
For this stage I have used personal experience and accounts from those that have suffered from it to empower this scene. It has been described as a massive pressure weighing on your shoulders, one that you can not escape from, almost as if you are floating/falling with no influence over your speed or direction.
To me that description reminds me of an ocean, with waves of emotion flooding over you and dragging you deeper and deeper.
When dealing with depression in relation to grief, you feel a deep remorse and sadness over the events that have occurred but you know that there is something better to come, acceptance.
The thought of that something better is comforting to those dealing with grief and helps lift them out of their depression and onto the next stage and while I imagine an endless ocean surrounding my character it is important to acknowledge the light at the end of the tunnel.

-Acceptance being the final stage of grief is when you are finally able to let go and accept the changes that have occurred and are now stronger from the experience.
Within my script I have used the character of Pa as the manifestation of this stage, not only is who what Mako has been chasing but he also represents the path that has lead Mako through each stage to the next.
I wanted this scene to be a peaceful one, where Pa himself has accepted his passing as those who are dying must go through their own stages of grief when facing their mortality. Making this scene as quiet as possible allowed for peaceful and content atmosphere that not only represented the manifestation of acceptance but the inner peace found when at this stage.
Pa also represents the mentor archetype, teaching Mako what he must do to move forward in his life and how to come to terms with his grief.

My website for future projects

After I leave university I am going to need a space to put an online portfolio, after three years of using the wordpress site I feel comfortable using it again to this end.
On the site I have uploaded my contact information, artist statement and am working on the show reel which will eventually be placed there as well.
I plan to put this site on things such as my Linkedin and buisness cards once I have filled it a bit out more.
By using this site as a base for my works I aim for it to showcase stages of production within my future works and by doing this refine my skills and increase web presence.

The site can be found here

Artist statement

I find that film captures the essence of what it means to be alive, showing the world around us in a unique light that urges us to experience new things while allowing an insight to new perspectives.
To me film shows the hidden beauty behind the world we live in, connecting us in a way beyond words by allowing us to come together and share emotions for a brief yet powerful experience,
I think about this every time I sit down to work on a new project.

My influences range from directors like Masaaki Yuasa and his work on the series known as Tatumi Galaxy to more known directors like Zach Braff and his films Garden State and Wish I was here.
The unique visual style presented within the Yuasa’s work and the anime genre in general has not only entertained me but changed the way I think about the composition of a scene, this is reflected within my script writing and directorial style allowing me to create scenes filled with a powerful yet distinctive visual aesthetic.
My writing aims to explore the human condition and the hidden struggles behind everyday life, the aim for my work is to not only speak to a select demographic but people from all walks of life allowing that collective emotional experience that I define film to be.

Bibliography – Online video tutorials & training -Website
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Textual analysis

My piece has taken the form of a documentary, this is a break from what I am used to producing and so I had to put in much more critical thinking behind the composition of the edit.
The film opens up with a shot of the Mount Edgecombe estate and a glimpse at the surrounding area, these shots were used at the beginning to give the viewer a sense of space and to give them a vague understanding of where they were.
The next shot is a pull focus which moves from the bushes outside Mount Edgecombe to a focus of the marquee where the Drawn To The Valley event is taking place.
This shot was used as it felt a much more natural transition from an outside location to inside, as if you were walking the viewer through the grounds and then guiding them inside the main event.

After bringing the viewer inside the marquee the piece begins to introduce the heads of the organisation and gives the audience a brief insight into what kind of artist they are, I found this effective as it enables viewers of any background, be it an artist or just someone walking by, an insight into who these people are and what they are doing at the event.
This is followed by shots of the centre piece, the nature goddess.
I used shots of the artists constructing it from the beginning as it illustrated what they are saying while the footage plays, each talking about their own individual art style.
Seeing these art styles being used in front of you gives the viewer a sense of what they are talking about and opens their eyes to the something they may not have given much thought to.
The combination of audio to demonstrate the visuals is a powerful tool and one that is repeatedly used in this piece to reinforce what is being shown and to inform the viewer throughout.
This chapter of the film is then brought to a close with artist ‘Tessa Jane’ saying about how the event has given her a greater understanding of natural beauty and how she is now ‘drawn to the valley’, this was used to round off the chapter as it related back to the nature goddess which was shown throughout but also to make use of a shot of her walking away into nature and the event.
The combination of these small elements give a greater impact to the chapter as it reinforces everything you have been told up until that point but with the shot of her walking away it opens up the transition into the next chapter of the story.

The next chapter is brought in with a rapid change in conversation, this was done to give the viewer a sense of back and forth as if they are having a conversation as they are guided around the event, this is also important as it focuses on the main point of the exhibition, getting children involved with art.
To demonstrate this message many shots of the kids making random pieces of art were used, this gave a sense of diversity to what the viewer sees as there are many quick cuts mixed in with long takes. The quick cuts were used to showcase finished work and give a sense of what was being made while the long shots contrasted with the quick ones as they were used to give a sense of immersion to the audience, to make them feel as if they were walking around having a look for themselves.
To greater improve this immersion shots of the children looking at the camera after seeing it were used, this was done to give the viewer a sense that the kids were looking back at them while they were being guided around.
This chapter is also quite important as the interview audio used is very profound in its message.
The interview talks about never knowing when someone may be inspired and when you can trigger that creative drive in someone, this audio was used because it blends well with the visuals of the kids being fully engrossed in what they are doing, it demonstrates the point more than the words alone could.
This chapter is brought to a close with a reverse of the original pull focus shot with some orange colour correction to give the impression it is now later in the day.
This shot was also used in reverse to give the viewer the feeling they are now walking from inside to outside once again.

The last chapter focuses solely on the venue of Mount Edgecombe, this was done to give a feel as if the guided tour was coming to a close as the day began to end.
To create this feeling darker colour correction was used to make the day feel much later.
The shots used are very artistic in terms of their composure, much different to the rest of the film and this was done as the content had shifted.
Originally the camera was guided to give the viewer a feel of walking around the venue but as this chapter focused solely on the location, the most eye pleasing shots were used instead.
The film then finishes out with a sunset on the horizon, this particular shot was used to make the viewer feel as if the day had ended and its time for them to head home.
The whole piece was designed as if it was a guided tour and the shots and editing style used captures that quite nicely and the success of that style makes the viewer feel as if they were there for the day.