Wednesday, 11 September 2013

4. Pig as Pork Chop

It was somewhere around this time that the idea of Bear hallucinating Pig as a pork chop materialized. I was chatting to a friend about the film, over coffee and giant marshmallows in Shoreditch (you know who you are!). I don't know how we got onto the subject but we were talking about the device in old cartoons like Tom & Jerry, where Tom sees Jerry as a chicken drumstick or in a swiss cheese sandwich etc. And I realized that this would be a really funny image to incorporate into the film. And so the new ending was born. Who says sugar and caffeine aren't good for you! 

Apart from the visual gag itself, what appealed to me about the twist (the idea of Bear eating Pig) was that when the going gets tough Bear reverts to type, back to his true nature. Friendship goes out of the window - and who hasn't born the brunt of that sort of behaviour at one time or another? I also liked the idea of this 'dog eat dog theme' juxtaposed with the cute look of the characters. So I went away ruminated over this new ending...

When I mentioned it to Chris Shepherd he advised me to look at the cabin scenes in the Charlie Chaplin film The Gold Rush. There is a particular section in the film where The Little Fellow (Chaplin) and a character named Big Jim are trapped in the middle of nowhere in a log cabin without food, and they are starving. Eventually Big Jim hallucinates that The Little Fellow as a chicken and tries to kill him. I used this scene for inspiration for the shot selection in this section of my film.

A still from 'The Gold Rush' 1925

To make it more clear at the beginning of the film that the characters are hungry, I came up with the idea of the trio sitting around a table with plates, cutlery, napkins etc. In my mind, it's like this is a regular thing for them - They meet up once in a while and have a meal together. They take it in turns to bring the food, but this time Squirrel has turned up empty-handed, and so they are forced to go and forage for something in the woods. The addition of the napkins provided me with a device to make the ending a bit clearer too. I designed Pig with a yellow napkin tied around his neck. This helped to make him seem very eager to eat at the start of the film, and then at the end, when we see bear wiping his mouth with said napkin, we know for sure that Bear has eaten Pig. (Logistically I couldn't cut to a wide here, and show that Pig is definitely not there, as of course the puppets don't have legs, and I needed to frame out the puppeteer).

Making this section of the film as clear as possible was one of the main challenges that we came across in the edit. But I'm very happy with the result. Avye's subtle change of body language (on pork chop), even with such a basic puppet, gave me the raw material (excuse the pun) to be able to put across the moment of realization, on the part of Pig, that he is in trouble. I used a wide lens on the final shot of Bear too, as I felt the slightly strange look it gave us would help both to separate him visually from Pig/pork chop, and to put across that he has finally surrendered to the hallucination and his natural instincts. 

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