March 8th, 2013
Former Pixar intern Cemma Oats tweeted quite a few insightful glimpses into the world of storytelling before being let go for general unfeeling incompetence. Here are a few highlights:
- Computer animated characters are admired more for their resolution than for their resolve.
- You have to keep in mind what’s interesting to the audience (explosions), not what’s fun to do as a writer (World of Warcraft).
- Trying to make a meaningful point is important, but you won’t see what the story is really about ’til you present it to management. Now rewrite.
- There once was ___. Someday ___. Then I ___. Because of that ___. Oh, shoot I ___. Now I have to buy a new ___.
- Simplify. Trim. Cut. Kill what you love. It’ll feel like you’re selling your own children for pin money, but it leaves you material for a sequel.
- What is your character best at, happiest with? Throw the exact opposite at them. Literally. Like racecars and stuff. With a trebuchet, maybe.
- Write a good ending before you worry about the beginning or middle. Really. Nobody cares about the buildup making sense if the ending is awesome!
- When you hit your deadline, you’re done. Forget about it even if it’s not perfect. It’d be great if you had more time, but things have to keep moving. There are already vendors out there making the Happy Meal toys.
- If you don’t know what to do, write out all the things that absolutely COULDN’T happened next. Then do that. They won’t see it coming.
- Pull apart the characters you love. With wolves, maybe.
- Think hard before putting it on paper. If you keep it in your head, it will never become reality, but at least nobody can steal it.
- Forget the first thing you think of. And the second, and the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Wait until you think of something you’d never possibly think of. Paradoxically surprise yourself.
- Give your characters opinions. Easy going might seem likable but it’s boring to viewers. Nobody remembers Pleasant K. Smellworthy. Everyone remembers Hitler.
- What’s the big deal about THIS story? Why are you telling it? What’s the heart of it? It’s probably because of something the marketing department came up with, or because the characters are renderable with the latest software.
- If you were a character in this story, what would you do? Probably a lot of screaming, right?
- What’s at stake? The character’s future? Your job? The company’s future? What happens if you don’t succeed? How many people’s lives will be destroyed? No pressure, though.
- Even if you have to throw it out, no work is ever wasted. You’re not burning ideas; you’re employing recyclers and landfill operators.
- Know yourself: the difference between getting coffee because you need caffeine to keep going, and getting coffee because it gets you away from your desk. Either way, good story is mainly Starbucks related.
- Coincidences that complicate the story are great; coincidences that solve a problem are unsatisfying; coincidences in unbelievable piles are George Lucas.
- Plagiarize: take the best parts of a movie you love and rework them into something that you can say you wrote.
- You’ve gotta identify with your characters; imagine yourself in their situation. This is YOUR dream. Everyone else in the story should be doing stuff to make things cool for YOU.
- What’s the hook of your story? How can you describe it as the comingling of two Hollywood hits? If you know that, you can get funding and distribution.
March 8th, 2013
In the Market House at the end of Main Street is an old-fashioned telephone:
Pick up the receiver, and you can hear a fanciful old party-line telephone call (so called because those with enough money to own a phone at the time were stereotypically rich Republicans who always voted “along the party line”) in which a woman is so confused that she has called the postmaster to tell him that her barn is on fire.
Note that the phone is farther to the left on the wall in the old picture than it is in the new picture. Many years ago, the phone was moved further into the corner to make more room for merchandise in the shop.
Next up: The hub
March 7th, 2013
There are several vehicles that take guests for rides up and down Main Street. One of them is this old-fashioned fire engine:
The engine was originally built in 1899, but Walt Disney himself purchased it and had its horses removed and a gasoline engine added so that it could be more easily used in his park. Today, the gasoline engine has been replaced by a more modern, clean burning, high-pressure liquid hydrogen fuel cell (with, when fully charged, enough energy to level a city block), but despite what’s under the hood, the body of the car remains true to its antique history.
Looking at this old photo, one can’t help but wonder about the people in them. Who knows what ever happened to the smiling driver shown here? Perhaps he still works in the park!
Next up: It’s in the barn!
March 7th, 2013
Main Street features a number of artificial women in prominent roles.
One of them is the mystically popular Esmeralda…
…who to this day tells fortunes in front of the Main Street
Candy Store Penny Arcade. Although prices have gone up a little over the years, Esmeralda’s prophecies remain as accurate as ever.
Across the street…
…is Esmeralda’s sister Tilly. Tilly is the Main Street Cinema’s ticket taker, but when the park stopped using ticket books she was no longer needed to perform this function. Her animatronics were removed (they were later used in one of Splash Mountain’s dancing chickens) and Tilly’s role became a purely decorative one.
Next up: Fire!
March 6th, 2013
One of Main Street’s most famous residents is this small-statured Native American.
He has remained in the same spot on Main Street since park opening, and has seen the shop behind him transform from a tobacco store, to a sports memorabilia shop, to a horribly cramped annual-pass processing center, to a music store.
It may seem frighteningly inappropriate today, but back in the 1950s this statue was given the name “How” (his brother in Frontierland was named “And How.”)
Next up: Main Street sisters
March 6th, 2013
Part of what makes Disneyland so wonderful are the little details. One of those details on Main Street are the cannons.
It’s subtle, but in this original picture you can see that the cannon is still rebelliously aimed at City Hall (instead of at the Tour Garden, as it is today). In the background, you can just catch a glimpse of the Emporium windows, which held dioramas from whatever Disney feature film was most recently in theaters.
Across the street from the cannon is one of Main Street’s mailboxes.
At the time this photo was taken, Disneyland still had its own post office. Today, the text on the mailbox says that mail is taken from Disneyland to the Anaheim post office.
A bit of trivia: these mailboxes used to be quite popular, but because of the rise of e-mail and the decline in the sending of postcards, these boxes are used so infrequently that the park now only checks and empties them annually (usually just before Christmas, in case there are any letters to Santa in there).
Next up: A Native American statue
March 5th, 2013
City Hall, one of Disneyland’s original buildings, hasn’t changed much over the years.
In fact, if it weren’t for the growth of the trees behind the building, the view would be practically timeless!
Next up: Mailbox and cannon
March 5th, 2013
Today’s Photoland photos include two pictures of the Matterhorn, allowing you to see how it has changed over the years.
…is from a time when the Skyway still passed through the mountain, providing riders with a neat way to look down upon hapless guests being stalked and pounced upon by the newly installed animatronic yeti.
This photo includes a glimpse of the old Fantasyland, with its fanciful palm trees, simple buildings, and carrousel whose horses were little more than painted plywood flats.
The second photo…
…is of a more modern Matterhorn. This one if from after the Skyway had been removed but before the OSHA-mandatead railing was installed for the safety of mountainclimbers.
Next up: City Hall
March 4th, 2013
Our second attempt at a Disneyland photo overlay was a little more successful than the first.
Here you can see the Mark Twain sailing around the old, pirate-free corner of Tom Sawyer Island. In the background is Cascade Peak, which was later demolished and replaced by trees when the park was going through a spurt of renovations based on misguided attempts at “political correctness.”
This picture is still not perfect. We were not able to line up the location exactly, in part because back when the original photo was taken the economy was still strong and, therefore, the Rivers of America had not yet been downsized.
Next up: Two of the Matterhorn
March 4th, 2013
We at DisneyLies are great fans of the Filmography series of photographs in which the artist photographs IRL scenes while holding up a snapshot of a movie scene that was filmed in the same location. Inspired by this (and by the many photos we’ve seen online of people holding historic photos in their present location), we decided to create a similar set of photos in the second most photographed place on Earth, Disneyland.
Our first attempt was made in the historic Golden Horseshoe Saloon. Here’s how it turned out.
This was not as successful as we had hoped. Although we were able to line up the stage lights and statuary, the curtains are complete wrong. Were we standing in the wrong place? Had the Golden Horseshoe been renovated at some point in the last few decades? Were we just bad at this? Science has no means of addressing these questions.
This first attempt did teach us three things, though:
- Making these pictures is hard.
- People look at you funny when you’re in public taking a picture of a picture.
- Chaps make Wally Boag’s legs look fat.
After this first attempt, we took nearly 700 additional photos in the park, resulting in about 30 that actually worked. In the coming weeks, we will post these photos along with our commentary on how the park has changed over the years. Tell your friends!