Thursday, January 14, 2016

"A Smallville Man" Deleted Scenes & Lessons Learned

To round off the revisit of my Superman short film, I thought it'd be interesting to share with you some of my "deleted scenes." Of course these are just illustrations ranging from rough sketches to fully rendered images, but they're still valuable in examining the creative process as well as just being a fun look into the different directions the story almost took. Hope you enjoy!

Our first introduction to Lois and Clark takes place within their office, so I thought a shot showing the interior of the Daily Planet office outside their door would be an appropriate transition. Due to time constraints I had to cut this scene out, but I also realized that in the end it wasn't as crucial as I had thought. The transition from the exterior of the building to the shot of Clark's hand pinning the paper was more than enough to link the characters with the setting.

TAKEAWAY #1: Keep only the parts that are absolutely necessary to the story.

This shot was an additional part of the Lois and Clark Daily Planet sequence and was ultimately scrapped due to time limits but rightly so. I can imagine if the song was longer I might have been able to include this shot, but it would've been completely repetitive. The shot overhead tells the same story and much more interestingly in my opinion. 

TAKEAWAY #2: Avoid telling the same story with different beats.

This shot was intended to go right before the scene where we first see Superman flying from the Daily Planet. I thought it would be an interesting way to depict the goodbye between him and Lois but again got scrapped due to time constraints.

TAKEAWAY #3: Sometimes you just gotta lose some stuff even if you think it's cool.

In my original story I had the South American farmer joined by a group of his fellow farmers as he stood up to the construction company attempting to kick them off their land. I even got so far as to fully illustrate a few of these scenes. I ended up abandoning this concept for story reasons.

TAKEAWAY #4: Don't be afraid to backtrack just because you've already done a lot of work.

Really early on I played around with the idea of having large mechs serve as the machines used by the oil company to clear the farmers' land. I wanted Superman to have something physical to fight, but I quickly realized that I wanted the story to feel more grounded in reality. Yes it includes a superhero from another planet but that is the accepted premise of my story and for some intuitive reason including technology like these mechs just didn't feel right. So I quickly scrapped it in favor of the more realistic military/guerrilla conflict.

TAKEAWAY #5: Quickly decide on the rules of your story's reality and commit to them.

This is probably my favorite shot from the entire project and it never made the final cut. Why? Because I couldn't quite fit it organically within the story I wanted to tell. Originally Superman was supposed to attack the military once they had attacked the farmers, but I realized that that would have betrayed the nature of his character. Only after trying to safely deescalate the situation would he have resorted to using his powers just as his father had taught him.

TAKEAWAY #6: Always think through your character's decision-making process.

I really liked this shot of Superman emerging from the helicopter crash so much so that I even got around to almost finishing the rendering. However when it came time for the final cut, I had to scrap it in favor of the shot pictured below that catered to the actual storytelling by also showing the jet flying above.

TAKEAWAY #7: Don't compromise your storytelling just for the sake of pretty visuals.

Sometimes scenes were cut for highly important reasons (as shown above), but sometimes it was also from just having gone down the wrong creative rabbit hole. The following shots are a mix between the two that I just wanted to share.

Thanks for reading!

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