Orange Blues (2014)

I spent most of my final year at the Plymouth College of Art with no idea what I was going to do for my big graduation film at the end of the last term. I had some ideas, but I wasn’t big on any of them. Two of them were largely do-overs of failed projects, namely the underwhelming When Worlds Unite and the utter clusterfuck that was The Night Shift. Another had the working title of Intergalactic Nerds, the story focusing either on background characters going about their day-to-day business in the periphery of a bad 80’s straight-to-VHS movie or a Die Hard/Red Dawn sort of deal with a ragtag group of “ordinary” store clerks (they were all still robots and aliens, in case you were worried I might have dipped a single toe outside of my comfort zone) having to fend off an invading force of bad guys on their own when they’re accidentally left out of their space station’s evacuation procedure, I wasn’t ever decisive on which idea to go with. In the end, I would end up adapting the first version of the idea into the basic premise for a major project I’ve been developing since 2009 called Adventures in Personal Space. The fourth concept was tentatively titled Trapped Inside Your Mind, and was my original idea for the Consolidation project. It would have been centred around a screenwriter attempting to write their first big script, except the characters are literally leaping off the page and are now having to live with them, potentially causing havoc in their real life. It was a decent premise with potential for exploring the creative process and all that good stuff, but it would have required more than a one-man band both behind and in front of the camera, and I had neither.

So, just a few months before the deadline, I hit upon the fifth idea which was what eventually became Orange Blues: Creature Comforts in space. Film interviews with people, animate the results, and you’re golden. While I’m an utterly shit interviewer and thought I’d completely fucked up the project as a result, when I whittled down the hour or so of interview material into roughly 13 minutes of film… it clicked in a way I was utterly shocked by. I’ve never been as surprised with the final result of something I’ve worked on as I was with the “story” content of this film. Listening to the hour-long unedited version of the material was thoroughly depressing, it was tediously boring and had zero substance to it. To this day I don’t know how I managed to make as engaging a product as I did with the thoroughly lackluster material I had shot.

Where I actually did fuck up was with the animation. I’d never done anything animated beyond the slideshow stuff in Pointless Bob and Through the Fourth Wall or the seriously limited character animation in the two tests with Ciera, and I didn’t give myself the time to get the visuals to an acceptable level. Hell, my general inability to get work done and leave everything to the last minute resulted in me having to do all of the character animation in just under 18 hours. Really. Designing the characters, building the puppets, and animating all the dialogue, both in the talking heads and the orange background stuff. 13 minutes of it. In 18 hours.

It really shows in the final film. Despite doing some limited extra work on it between handing it in and uploading it to Vimeo a month or so later, it still looks like a film whose visuals were slapped together in a matter of hours. It’s been my intent ever since to go back and redo them, but I’ve recently decided on a full-on do-over for the film with Orange Blues Re:Animated. It will be the exact same film content-wise, just with higher-fidelity audio, a complete rescore by Ned Warren (who was as unhappy with his original score for the film as I was with my animation), and 3D animation to realise the “real world” segments (i.e. the orange background bits will remain 2D with the minimalist caricatures, but everything else will be 3D-animated instead). I don’t have any kind of schedule or timeline to when I’m doing it, I have other projects to finish first, and I haven’t gotten any better with time management, not to mention the fact that I’m going into completely unfamiliar territory with the 3D stuff. That said, I do hope to have it out in 2016 sometime. Whether that will actually come to pass or not remains to be seen.

For now though, here is my heavily compromised original execution of Orange Blues.

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