Saturday, March 14, 2009

Free Hugs - story telling - using reference material outside of animation

I watched a video that Sarah M (1st year animator) made of a day in Brisbane. Hope she posts it on her blog. It reminded me of the "Free Hugs" campaign.

Now, I wonder what it is in this story that grabs me? Is it the colour change on the first hug? Is it the music? Is there a basic need that has been identified?

Tell me second year animators, what is the story about? And then, if you can tell me what is the story ABOUT? What are the initial motivations of the characters? What creates a change? What makes the impact?

Can you design a narrative like this?


Mitch said...

Well, I don't have speakers tonight frank so I watched this one without sound. I'm colourblind and even I noticed the change in colour after the first hug. That was a good effect in changing the atmosphere of the silent film playing on my computer. Being forced to ignore sound completely the visual Crescendo was effective at the end. The messege was powerful, but lets be honest here. Alot of the footage at the beggining wasn't people going, "I'm not going to hug this man because there is no love left in me" it was more... Tall unshaven man with massive sign, or I could enjoy the rest of my day without feeling forced to hug someone purely because theres a camera in my face. If the music was replaced with the song "Their coming to take me away, Ha Ha" for the first half of the video you would think this man is a mental case. I feel like this narrative is missing something. This is how I break it down.

the music "thankyou" is talking about an unsteady and unhealthy relationship between an emotionally scarred musician and a girl who can't seem to make up her mind. "Wrong or right, black or white. If I close my eyes its all the same"
translating to me as "We're all the same once you ignore society's (shackles of oppresion)" which is all fair and well in a land that isn't occupied by sexual predators, and murderers. Where are Joseph Fritzles free hugs? But now I'm getting off topic. The Man holding up the sign symbolises the essence of Peace. This tricky manipulation of movie magic shows that peace can prevail.

But I ask you, would this peace representitive recieve the same attention without the professional camera man standing behind him?

Brisbane City is populated with the majority of people carrying loose change.
Imagine if each one of those people who gave hugs donated a dollar towards a good cause. But why donate when hugs and getting your face on camera are free?

Frank said...

Hi Mitch

Thanks for your comments.

The film is ABOUT making meaningful contact in a crowd of stangers. It's ABOUT telling a social species of animals, who rely on the herd for their own well being, not to isolate themselves in their presumptions. It's ABOUT how fear and suspicion rules people's lives. (Well that's how I view it).

The film is about, initially one person, and then many people giving out free hugs.

You have demonstrated, albeit in your humourful manner, the attitude prevalent in society by the comments in your opening paragraph. You have been taught my nature and nurture to be suspicious of someone offering something for free. Thus it is proved.

I do take on board your point about the camera being present and how that affects people. It is a really good point.

I'll pull you up on the "music" comment. The story in the lyrics to the song differs from the story in the film, true. But lyrics are not music. The music matches the mood of the film. If it were a piece of music without the lyrics the film and music are symbiotic. I have an advatage here because I am not a lyricist.

I'm not sure that the man "Juan Mann", is symbolising 'Peace'. I think he is embodies and takes action on "Free Hugs". The aim may be something to do with the larger concept of Peace and Goodwill, but I would argue that initially he is trying to find, show and return something that has been lost from modern human society, that being basic human social contact expressed in a universal, dare-I-say 'primitive', language.

I would hope the Free Hugger would receive an even better response without the threat of the camera as his appeal is one to basic human instinct.

It's not about money and donating money in substitution for action. Again, the thinking compass going off track. Money isn't a factor in the campaign. The sign says "Free Hugs". The deal is bigger than money.

I was hoping this film demonstrated the point that it is potentially emotionally powerful because the subject is a basic human need and how the need is fulfilled. It creates empathy with the viewer (well, those of us who are not yet hardened cynics :) ). The film shows a character with a simple but worthy cause meet an obstacle (conflict) and then overcome that conflict.

In another formula, the case of a hungry coyote in the "Roadrunner" cartoons, the basic need of the villain is 'hunger'. In those (hundreds of) films, the need is puposely not fulfilled to comedic effect. Unfortunately the comedy comes from appealing to another basic human instict, of laughing at the demise of others. Is it OK to laugh at villains when they fall?