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.

[...] A. Walt likes the idea of part of a figure going out of the scene. I like it -- it centralizes the eye.

Q. Aren't we still afraid to come to very close close-ups? Recently some sketches of Pinocchio, where the face filled the entire screen, were pointed out to me as being bad.

A. The face begins to flatten out when you get too close on it. We are attempting to overcome that now, with a new dye process. But it will be some time before it is perfected.

I am glad that the subject of our early cartoons came up. We have come so far in the matter of presenting ideas. I insist, although it may be a broad claim, that in ten years our cartoons of today will look just as crude as those we made eight or nine years ago seem to us now.

I would like to give you a staging problem in order to help us look into the future a bit. I have gone through "Snow White" and tried to pick out the scene I thought was one of the most perfectly put over, considering the toughness of delivery of the idea to the audience and I chose the coffin scene inside the dwarfs' house with the dwarfs standing around the bier mourning Show White's death. You who were in on the story meetings remember how frightened we were that the audience would not react as we hoped they would. It is not a matter of what field size we used, or panning, or what character we cut to. It was the mood in which we wanted our audience at the time. I bring it up here as a problem for discussion because it was done so well. How, in ten years from now, might we have treated that scene to get an even stronger reaction? In thinking it over, I felt that as well as we presented the idea - ten years from now, we would have done much better. Had we been clever enough, and analyzed the situation more thoroughly, we could have obtained a stronger audience reaction.

What props, what indications, what sound, what picture could we have used to plant the picture stronger in the minds of the audience than we did? In my analysis, looking into the future, I thought of two things that might have been considered as what I will call props or methods, to build a stronger mood for the audience. One thing was the pies Snow White was making when the witch came -- might we not have used those uneaten pies as a touch in there to draw a little more of a tear from the audience? By a deep analysis of our [...]