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.

[...] In other words, it is clarity, simplicity and directness. I think it is a very important point -- this continuity build-up to the spot-staging of an idea. I would not wish to neglect it. It should not be intuition or guessing on the part of a person when he likes or dislikes an idea. I have often been embarrassed by having Walt ask me, when I had said I didn't like a gag, why I didn't like it. It was just intuition. I have since learned to find out why I don't like it, before I express myself, so I can tell him my reasons.

Under the importance of continuity build-up to spot-staging, I think exposition is most important to the art of construction. In other words, as you are building up to the final spot-staging, unless each point is put over clearly and has a reason, I don't believe the idea itself will click. Often good story ideas and good gags move on to a director and then to the animator, and miss, because there has not been proper analysis just before the lead-in to the gag.

I am not trying to tell you how to stage. If I do, forgive me. I am trying to give you a little inspiration -- something to think about. I could not tell you how to stage an idea.

Before going into the spot-staging of an idea, I want to quickly review the points I have made:

1. Consideration of the problem of transference of thought from one individual to another -- the fact that we are able to picture it in order to transfer it.

2. Consideration of the mental capacity of our audience -- their moods, etc.

3. Careful analysis of continuity build-up to the idea we want to present.

If we have done all these things, we are now ready to deliver the gag to our audience, or the story man is now ready to deliver the idea to the director.

Spot-staging of an idea -- and I am not going to say anything new here -- has as its most important part the ability to direct the audience's eye to the place where the gag is being exposed at the proper time. I read in some magician's book a simple explanation of the reaction of different mentalities to the pointing of a hand. The author gave as an example a man's reaction as someone points and says "LOOK AT THE FIRE!" An adult's reaction would be to look directly at the fire; a child's reaction would be first to [...]