What does it mean to be alive? To be conscious and have thoughts and feelings. Why are we alive and does it even matter? Does anything truly matter in the grand scheme of things when we are all going to die one day and everything, eventually, is going to be swallowed up by a million billion trillion exploding stars and black holes? Or will it? Is there a god? If there is then who created them? Who what when where why and how? Existentialism posits that a person can and does define the meaning and purpose of their own life, and therefore must choose to resolve the crisis of existence. While i don’t want to really answer any of these questions with my film, i want it to be themed around these kinds of questions and maybe even make the audience leave with thoughts and questions about existence.
Franz Kafka was a writer whose work was realistic, surreal and bizarre in so many different and wonderful ways. He’s truly brilliant and is one of the most famous writers of all time. One of his best known works; ‘The Metamorphosis’, tells the story of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect and now he has to just deal with it. This affects his job, his relationships with his family and ultimately causes them great distress and trouble – leading to his untimely death. It is incredibly tragic, but at the same time it is beautiful and strange and leaves you wondering all sorts of fantastical things upon finishing it. I realised when i was coming up with this story that the film i wanted to make was similar in some regards to this literary masterpiece. The slice of pizza is transformed like the man in this story, and he just has to deal with it.
In the metamorphosis the man who is transformed into a man-sized insect is contained in one place the whole time, as he is too hideous and scary to really go anywhere, which is something that bothers him greatly and we is the focus of much of our thoughts when reading it. We pity him, and empathise were we to find ourselves in that same situation. He is unable to communicate his feelings to those around him and is alone in this tragedy. Pizzaguy however will be travelling through many different environments, so he wont be stuck in one location, but he is going to go through it alone and be very much unable to reach out to anyone around him. I want the character to be unable to communicate effectively with anyone he meets – as a sentient slice of pizza he is mostly just food to anything that he comes across, so he have to avoid them at all costs lest he be eaten. Ultimately he will be eaten and the story will be tragic, but I want his journey to still be kind of magical and interesting. He isn’t going to live a long life, but he is going to experience some cool stuff before his demise.
“You don’t give up, you don’t lie down and die. What you do is struggle against this with all of your equipment, with whatever you have. But of course you don’t stand a chance. That’s Kafkaesque.”
Originally i was thinking that this story could go in so many directions. That i could use this film as an opportunity to create this vast universe of things that have been brought to life and the Pizza travels to all these different worlds and locations and perhaps unites them together. They could go on adventures together and it could potentially go on to become a series or something. But when i sat back and thought about what i wanted to say with this story, i came to the conclusion that while that would be fine, i wanted to say something with this concept. The idea of an object being suddenly brought to life made me realise there was a potential to really delve into that aspect of the character, where they have had existence thrust upon them and the story of what they do.
I have been animating the opening sequence, which loosely resembles the animatic i made. I wanted it to look somewhat like a retro video game cut-scene. The animation is limited and jerky, but as the film progresses the Pizzaguy will become smoother and more realistic, until at the end he is a real slice of pizza and is unfortunately eaten alive. Such is the tragedy of being a sentient piece of food, which we all kind of are actually, but its just more obvious when it’s a slice of pizza. The audience should be able to empathise with this cute little guy, he didn’t ask for life it was thrust upon him and he got up and did something. He didn’t know where he was going or why but he tried, and really that’s all any of us are capable of. Had he been wiser maybe he could have avoided his fate for longer, but he was always going to die somehow.
I only have a very basic grasp of philosophy really, so i wont be delving deeply into incredibly complex and incredible thoughts or asking seriously difficult questions of the audience. It’s the basic easy ‘what the heck’ surface level thinkings about this stuff. But i think that’s ok for a short film that really is supposed to entertain the audience first and foremost. There are so many things i would like to say with this film, but i want it to work as a piece of entertainment and be visually interesting and cohesive. The narrative is quite straight forward.
Tzvetan Todorov’s theory is that all narratives follow a three part structure where they begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, then a disruption to that equilibrium, and finally reaches a resolution, when equilibrium is restored.
- Pizzaguy is a simple, non-thinking, non-feeling ordinary discarded slice of pizza.
- He is brought to life and a fantastical chase through different dimensions ensues.
- He is eaten as an ordinary slice of pizza and seemingly loses the sentience that disrupted his existence.
The mysterious spherical robot who brings Pizzaguy to life! With no explanation and barely any interaction this robot comes along and zaps life into an abandoned slice of pizza and then just turns and leaves, making a portal for itself and disappearing through it. The design of this robot ‘god’ has been simplified. I wanted there to be some ambiguity with this character. Is it a robot? It should appear unfeeling and blank, while being inorganic and like an object which has been created. I call it a robot, but perhaps it is something else?
When the slice of pizza is zapped by the life giving robot he rises up and shakes and vibrates and warps and morphs, growing arms and legs and a face in the process. It all happens so quickly, one moment he is a simple slice of pizza and the next he is a sentient being with all these weird feelings and thoughts.
He is a happy little slice of pizza! 🙂
Pizzaguy is not too sure how to feel about the robot leaving him. After all the robot is all he has really known since being alive and it left him and he didn’t even get a chance to understand what was going on and it’s not as fun as when the robot was there and now hes sad.
Pizzaguy runs after the robot! He’s not sure why but maybe if he can catch the robot he can get some answers, or maybe he just wants to go back to the way things were when the robot was talking to him and he was happy. I took inspiration from old school styles but also the modern retro-style video game ‘Cuphead’ – with thick outlines and noodly appendages. The bold design and bright flat colours should make it stand out from the background.
Pizzaguy travels through a succession of portals, from one strange environment to the next, in a sort of montage sequence. This is basically a great excuse for me to animate the character in different styles and create this fun segment in my film. I want to change the way the character looks and moves, while still maintaining a consistent design and having the audience recognise that it is still the same character.
I made some example tests of Pizzaguy travelling between different dimensions as he runs from one portal to the next, using the run cycle i had already made. Having seen some fun animation collaboration projects i thought that people may like the challenge of animating Pizzaguy going from one portal to another in any style they like with the opportunity for it to end up in the final films montage sequence.
I also wanted to show any prospective animation collaborators that they are not forced to stick to the side shot for this sequence. The brief will explain that Pizzaguy must be recognisable to the audience as Pizzaguy in some form, and he must travel from one portal to another. He can either run straight through or he can stop and do something in the world he finds himself in.
I’m not sure whether to add that people can do a run cycle and i can then edit it into the sort of montage you see above where it is only a side shot. But i’m worried that some people will do that and not push themselves to do something that takes more time. But i’m probably overthinking it anyway. I could always just say that they do not need to worry about putting the portal into the animation if they don’t want and i can add it after.
Either way i think that what i have is enough to show people the concept and start to see if there is anyone out there who would be interested. If anyone takes me up on the offer then it will help to diversify the styles that Pizzaguy appears as in the film. Hopefully fleshing it out a bit more and creating a more interesting film. It is also a fantastic networking opportunity and if it was something that a lot of people did, it could generate some interest in the film. I think it would be fun as well.