Margale Eustache is the winner of a $5,000 grant generously endowed by Yulia and Susheel Kirpalani for outstanding work in Animation Screenwriting. Here, Margale tells us how she developed her first feature length screenplay.
My animated feature screenplay Obtuse came together over a long time with a lot of help.
Screenwriting may come naturally to some individuals hoping to craft a tale, whether from observation or a personal experience. But not to me. It’s not easy. It’s a collaborative experience that takes shape through tedious effort, critique, exchanges of old and new ideas and compromise. We do it all for a richer story.
Well, of course, that was not the case.
In James Grimaldi’s Advanced Screenwriting for Animation class I realized I had overlooked one thing: I needed to develop one story for the entirety of the course. I had so many different story ideas, that I actually didn’t settle on this one until late in the game. Obtuse was the fifth story that I pitched – and that was three months in.
The first problem was that the protagonist was an unlikable fellow. He is perceived as cold but, later we find out he’s really just misunderstood. He’s an awesome father.
I also found it challenging to stay with a single perspective. Many times, I found myself wanting to change the point of view to characters that weren’t important, or did nothing to further the direction of the tale. Keeping it to one POV made it much stronger.
I often shared what I had written with people outside of class for reactions and feedback. One of my good friends helped me come up with the inspiration for my side character. Just imagine, a majestic unicorn – a single beam of light glimmering upon its silky, white mane. Then, sticking out of its derriere, an arm wiggles, reaching out for help.
All in all, I am so grateful for this experience. Screenwriting for Animation not something I think I would have grappled with on my own, and I am grateful for the opportunity that I was given by the Kirpalani family, my teacher, James Grimaldi, and, Film and Animation chair, Reeves Lehmann.