Month: August 2009

Lucky Plazas

Will be having an art exhibition at Mulan Gallery from 5 Sept to 25 Sept 2009. Its located at Tanglin Shopping Centre; for directions go here. According to their press release…

“‘Lucky Plazas’, a two‐man show at Mulan Gallery, presents the works of noted comic illustrators and artists Sonny Liew and Koh Hong Teng, in a reflective mood, exploring aspects of their homeland, Singapore. While offering narratives that grapple with Singaporean issues that are both subtle and deep, both artists also present engaging visuals that proliferate with minute observations.”
There’s also a Singapore Art Gallery Guide review here, somewhere down the middle :p

What is Storytelling?

The above image, from this website, shows some of the concept art for “American Dog”, a Disney movie that turned into “Bolt” after its original director, Chris Sanders was removed.  This was apparently due to disagreements over storytelling with John Lasseter, and therefore raises parallels (in my mind) with other projects where the orginal directors/creators were removed for failing to solve “storytelling problems” (Jan Pinkava on Ratatoullie is another case and maybe Glen Keane on Rapunzel Unbraided as well) .

Apart from any talk of conflicting egoes, it does make me wonder: What exactly is good storytelling?

Pixar movies have been used as a gold standard for a while now in critical circles, and on Ratatoullie, Brad Bird is often cited as having fixed numerous storytelling issues in a matter of weeks. But here’s the rub though: as much as I loved the 2 Toy Stories and Iron Giant, I’ve been underwhelmed by later Pixar movies, from Ratatoullie to Wall-E; Bolt was a pretty bland movie as well.

Which makes me wonder what the movies would have turned out like if Sanders and Pinkava had been allowed to carry out their vision; something more personal, less commercially driven perhaps? Or were there really objectively quantifiable problems with their approach? Is good storytelling a subjective thing or is there some sort of universal (or at least human) standard we can point to? (say…a 90% rating on rottentomatoes? :p)

I guess I worry about these issues working on my own stories, particulary the current Malinky  Robot GN: is there  enough direction in the plot? Emotional engagement of the reader? Is the conflict resolution placed at the right time, at the right intensity? What would a John Lasseter make of the Brothers Quay or Jan Svankmajer?

Who exactly do we write for, and to what end?