Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Storytelling and Commission: OGR Presentation


  1. OGR 23/01/2013

    Evening Sam,

    A nicely presented OGR. So, a few observations etc. for you to think about as you start thinking about going into production.

    Firstly, I'm going to suggest you think about those first establishing scenes. I'm wondering if you need an establishing shot of the island itself - because I think the small scale of the island is important to understanding the older chef's competitiveness ("This island isn't big enough for the both of us"). I suggest you seek to exaggerate the 'smallness' of the island too - because again this will help us understand that the older chef has been a 'big fish in a small pond'. You might also seek to establish in this shot the exclusiveness of the restaurant; afterall, if people are coming to small island just to eat, those people are going to be wealthy, snobbish, perhaps arriving on big cruise ships or by helicopter etc. It seems that, at heart, your story is about getting back to basics and remembering simple pleasures - so perhaps it makes good visual sense to establish the restaurant and its customers as the opposite of that in the first instance; i.e., wealthy, privileged and spoiled. By folding this information into that establishing shot, you're actually using your island as more than just a place, but also as a metaphor for your chef's state of mind (and his literal isolation from his own heart and passion).

    I think too you need to withhold the information re. the existence of the new snack bar until AFTER the chef notices his own empty restaurant. Indeed, structurally, wouldn't it make more sense for the story to begin with the chef looking out approvingly on a completely full restaurant; next scene, we see slightly fewer customers; next scene we're shown there are none, which then prompts the chef to go outside and see the snackbar, and also see the big crowd of his own customers outside. This 'reveal' at this stage will create more tension in your opening scenes.

  2. I suggest you re-consider the sabotage scenes from this perspective; essentially, these moments of sabotage by the older chef only serve to highlight the young chef's talent, creativity and positivity. For me, when he simply throws the fish out, this doesn't 'show' his creativity or his flair, it's just a reaction. It's much better that everytime the older chef seeks to sabotage the young chef, the young chef's response just makes him appear more talented in the kitchen and more creative - so, whatever the older chef gives him or does to him, the younger chef should be able to use it, adapt it, cook it etc. in an inventive and clever way. You do this with the 'maggot salad' (though I'm not sure about the maggots actually, because perhaps that's TOO disgusting - but maybe not if he were to suddenly stir-fry them, and then someone taste them and go 'yum!' - that might be better; certainly, eating insects is fine in lots of parts of the world, so maybe bugs and beetles, instead of maggots?). I can see too how you might use something as simple as a blackboard menu to show how the young chef keeps making 'gold' from the old chef's tricks; so, for example, after the maggot/beetle scenario, a new dish could appear on the snack bar's board ' 'Speciality - Deep Fried Beetle'.

    Structurally, things tend to work best in threes; so, it feels like you need 3 examples of sabotage before you get to the final dynamite attempt; 3 previous attempts would give us enough time to believe that the older chef was being pushed to the end of his patience; so something like:

    attempt 1 - older chef replaces fish with X - young chef makes something great from X: customers are happy! Older chef is not.

    attempt 2 older chef sprinkles bugs onto salad - young chef pioneers 'fried bug salad'. Customers are happy (and more arrive) Older chef is not.

    attempt 3 older chef puts hottest chillies in X; young chef creates chilli-flavoured x' Customers are happy (snack bar is now massively popular) Older chef is furious.

    attempt 4 - dynamite...

    These three scenes can be lovely and quick - snappy and energetic, but if you have less than 3 I don't think we're going to quite believe that the Chef has got so frustrated he's prepared to blow up the snack bar!

    1. Thank you, Phil : )
      This makes a lot of sense!

    2. And I can see what you mean by the importance of the island itself. A really helpful point stated as I felt the location wasn't really used in the story : )

      Thanks again!

  3. I think there might be a really nice way to make a little more of your dynamite disposal scene: there is a method of fishing known as 'blast fishing' which is essentially using explosives to bring fish up to the surface of the water - using the shock wave to stun and kill them; see this video (it's not a great example, but you get the point - watch until the end, and you'll see the fish floating on the surface). Perhaps, you could have the older chef throw the dynamite into the sea to dispose of it - instead of in a barrel - and all these fish get blown into the air, raining down on the beach - and then, in your closing moments - when we see the two characters just sitting and eating together, maybe it's the fish from the blast they're eating? It just seems, what with your desert island, your existing cooking theme and your dynamite, that this might be a really tidy way of bringing these final moments together?

    I know you weren't 100% about this idea a while back, but I think it's got a lovely feel and lots of potential - and in terms of character design, I think you can really use contrasts - for example, you make the older chef very uniformed and 'away from nature' - so he's representative of high culture, money, and 'civilisation' and you make the young chef all about nature, less clothes, sun-kissed etc. Likewise, with the hotel/snack bar - you could design the hotel restaurant so it's got a perfect green lawn around it - highly cultivated, artificial, at a remove from its actual surroundings, rather like this (and surreal):

    and you make the snack bar all about materials found naturally on the island etc. There's loads of scope here in production design terms, so be sure to have some fun with this :)

  4. sorry - forgot to include blast fishing link:

  5. oh - and finally (sorry!) I don't think your premise is quite right; I think this is the older chef's story (not the young chef) and thematically, I think it's about authenticity and sharing - what do you think?

    1. Oh, sorry for interrupting with my reply : )'

      Still - thank you a lot. It really helps!
      And about the premise - I suppose you are right, though I quite liked the idea of the 'storm' being the old chef with dynamite, not a literal storm.
      I will have to give it a second thought then :)