Development Program : Staging as Applied to Presentation of Story and Gag Ideas

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From the collection of Hans Perk at A. Film L.A. and reprinted here with his permission.

[..] Q. In features, as in shorts, cutting is a device to step up tempo. In a nine-minute short, we want it faster and faster. I believe that, if we cut our features a la newsreel as we do our shorts, it is only admitting a weakness in the way we plan and stage our scenes. If we use cutting to the extent that we are justified in using it in shorts, we are apt to mis-use it.

Q. We are much more adept at cutting fast stuff. We can work out montages and excitement much better than we can create our slow spots. We are all afraid of slow mood scenes.

A. We can't cut slow action on the screen with out having it meaty. It must be as interesting as fast action. Cutting is only good when you don't notice it, except in a montage. Cutting shouldn't be noticed, except in cutting from sequence to sequence.

Shorts today are not being built at nearly as fast a tempo as they were even three years ago.

Q. We are substituting personality ideas for slapstick. We leave it to the artists to draw a character with charm. As they acquire more perfection, they will be able to handle things at an even slower tempo. Fast cutting has been done to relieve embarrassment, in most cases. We must develop our story and handling it so it will not be necessary.

A. The fact that Snow White was so successful was not due to the story or to the medium. It was meaty. We were careful not to have any slow spots. Think of the many times we cut; that would not be done in a live action movie. They would hold the length.

Q. When we start to entertain an audience for an hour's time, we want to keep from tiring them. We want to give them a chance to relax in the proper places. We must watch the color, so they don't tire of the clash of color. We must do the same thing with moods. We must earn, not how to pep up the fast spots, but how to slow down the slow spots. If we are going to improve our technique, we must do it more in the slow spots than in the fast ones.

Q. We will reach a point in animation where we can't improve much. Then we will have to improve our Story Department. For that matter, there isn't anything we couldn't produce in this studio right now, from a technical standpoint, if the fellows know what to produce.

Q. That opinion will go through a lot of changes. A few years ago we thought our technique was pretty good, too, [...]