So as promised here is my complete thoughts, notes, and answers to the activities for the first part of this series of Khan Academy lessons on story writing in animation done by Pixar
Think of a memory that your remember vividly. It should be a memory that comes easily to you.
Frak, that’s surprisingly easy. The most vivid memory was that chaotic moments of Katrina when my family evacuated and all I could think was "this is the end of an era"
Why do you think you remember this so well? Try connecting one or more emotions to this memory.
Anxiety, Fear, a nihilistic primal fear that change was coming and nothing could stop this juggernaut.
Now try and express your memory and emotion in some way. The goal is to get it out of your head. Here are some ideas for what you could do.
Going to do this Visually, tis my medium after all
Activity 2: Your three favorite films
Identify the tree films that you would take to a deserted island
Realistically, I would take the entire Holy Trilogy. However, for the purposes of this exercise, I chose only Star Wars: A New Hope. The other two would be Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and The Princess Bride.
Why do you think you connected with these stories? Come up with at least one reason for each.
For ANH its excitement of the world building, the relatable protagonist, the loveable cast, and the epitome of the Heroes Journey plot
Nausicaa has many of the same strengths as ANH in regards to memorable characters and world, as well as stunning animated setpieces.
Princess Bride is just funny and full of adventure!
What, if anything, do these three films have in common? How are they different?
These three films both feature a great set of memorable characters and an adventurous journey based plot. Also some tones of the Hero's Journey in all three
Exercise 3: What if...
Part A: Return to your 3 favorite films and try reframing each of them in terms of a "what if" statement. Share these with someone (written or verbally) and see if they can guess what movie it is from!
Star Wars A New Hope: What if a seemingly insignificant Farm Boy was destined to save the Galaxy?
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: What if the monsters were actually good all along, and it was the humans who cause calamity?
The Princess Bride: What if True Love was real?
Part B: Now it's your turn. Come up with 3-5 of your own “what if” ideas.
What if the Hero in a hero's journey was actually the villain?
What if your dreams were in fact another world?
What if time was only a perception of our minds?
What if the world was a lie and you are just a cog in a twisting unfeeling machine?
What if nightmares could come to our own reality?
Activity 4: Characters & Worlds
Part A: Return to your 3 films. Identify the worlds and characters in each. Write these down.
Who are the main characters?
Star Wars ANH: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewie, Princess Leia, Ben Kenobi, R2D2, C3P0, Darth Vader, Tarkin
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Nausicaa, Yupa, Asbel, Obaba Princess Kushana
The Princess Bride: Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts, Princess Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Fezzik, Vizzini, The 6 Fingered Man, Prince Humperdink
Is there a character you identify with most?
I identify the most with Han Solo, he is just a guy who is trying to get around in this crazy world.
Where does the movie take place? Is it one world or multiple worlds?
SW:ANH: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
NotVotW: Future Earth after an environmental catastrophe devastates it.
TPB: A fictional European Kingdom that is somewhere around the Medieval period or the Renaissance.
Part B: Try mixing a character and world from different movies. Try this a few times and see what happens.
Luke Skywalker is kind of a blank slate, he could be placed into any of the main protagonists position and be very similar. Having Nausicaa replace Luke would almost be the equivalent of a plot where instead of Luke being the twin focused on for training by Ben, Leia was. Putting Darth Vader into any setting is interesting, and would actually make the uncaring machine metaphor in his character further emphasized if he took the place of Princess Kushana, who is also "more machine now than [wo]man." Inigo Montoya would be interesting in star wars, as I feel his revenge plot could be played off a villain such as Tarkin. Also, Han Solo would be interesting replacement for Asbel or Inigo, seeing the scoundrel replace "honorable" fighters. Or moreover, have Han and Chewie trade places with Inigo and Fezzik, getting out of Mos Eisley would be quite hilarious, while the kidnapping of Buttercup might end up with Han trying to scoundrel his way into Buttercup's good graces
Part C: Return to your three "what if" statements from the previous exercises. Pick your favorite one. Can you imagine a possible character and world?
So if the traditional hero was actually the villain it would be interesting to see how this would come about. Is the hero innocently causing evil, or does he have this façade of what a traditional hero should look like? Is the true protagonist a more shades of gray kind of character? This world would probably be some sort of fantasy based, whether it is medieval, urban, steampunk, or space fantasy, this would be the kind of world where prophesies have a sort of weight and truth to them.
Part D: (optional) Draw or write about what life would be like in this world.
As stated, this would be a world with powers and prophesies. Tech level would not be necessarily a priority for the story, but for the sake of writing, I want an 80s Miami aesthetic, as that is what I have been really getting into art wise. The feeling of darkness and foreboding of the economic downturn in the 80s as well as the rapid march to automation and job loss would make the world look towards a prophesied hero to lead them. Plus, neon and synths would make cool magic effects.
Glossary from the series that they listed so I think they are important to type out again
Story: a sequence of events which unfold through time.
Perspective: a point of view or way of seeing the world.
World: the environment or set of rules where a story takes place.
Character: the subjects or individuals we follow on the journey of the story.
Protagonist: the main character(s), whose journey the story is about.