Itchy Pictures

Progress on Olive’s movie

It’s been a while since I shared any news about Olive’s quest for Hollywood. The silence may suggest that there’s been no progress, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth—I’ve actually been quite busy.

Now before you jump to any wild conclusions, let me state for the record that I do not have a film deal (yet). I have not been speaking with any animation studio executives or film producers (yet). I have not landed a Big Fish (yet).

So, what have I been doing that constitutes any sort of progress?

Working on a screen adaptation, that’s what.

An animated film featuring Olive the Woolly Bugger will not be simply an extended version of the stories from the Olive books. Certainly the film’s script will be based on the characters from the books and perhaps some elements from the stories, but an entirely new story  must be created.  And then there’s the matter of actually writing the screenplay itself. You see, I’m a writer, and an author, but a screenwriter I am not. That’s a specialized vocation all its own. One thing I did not want to do was dabble experimentally in screenwriting on a project so important. Remember, I need to sell this idea to someone. This is no time for a hack.

A writer doesn’t just sit down and begin scribing a screenplay. Before the script is crafted, the plot of the story must be outlined in what is called a treatment. A treatment is in fact an outline of the story’s structure, but a treatment has very specific requirements in order to be effective. It must be written in an act-based structure. Characters must be introduced. There must be a character arc showing the character’s growth over the course of the story. And it has to be compelling, without all the detail of an actual screenplay. The treatment precedes the first draft of the screenplay, so needless to say the treatment is a VERY key element in the film’s development.

Before any film development has begun, the treatment will be a critical sales tool in pitching my concept to a producer, so the treatment has to be exceptional. As I said, I’m not a screenwriter, so what am I doing about writing the treatment?  I’m working with a brilliant writer who knows what they’re doing. I first contacted Simon Cornish about creating 3D versions of Olive and Clark several months ago. Turns out Simon is a rather great person to know, as his talents seem limitless.

I sent Simon PDFs of the Olive books so he could gain a sense of who Olive is. Then I sent him a lengthy outline I had written with my ideas for the film. What Simon has fashioned, using his immense creativity as well as what I provided, is mind-boggling. We’ve shared overseas Skype sessions (Simon lives in the UK) and back and forth emails. We’ve worked through 3 iterations of the treatment, and with each revision I am only more and more pleased. We’re getting close to being finished, and have set a deadline of two weeks to have things wrapped up.

I believe that Simon is perhaps the perfect person for this task because he is not a fly fisherman. I didn’t want someone smitten by or even familiar with fly fishing to work on this. It’s best that the writer have no experience or knowledge of fly fishing because in order for a film like this to be successful, fly fishing needs to be down-played. The film must have mainstream appeal, and the writing must not be influenced by a certain affinity for the subject matter. In my opinion, what Simon has created is exceptional. I can’t wait until it’s done.

Then what?

Well, then I go about trying to pitch the treatment to a producer, animation executive or other interested party who I am cautiously optimistic will see that an animated film featuring Olive the Woolly Bugger is worth the time and money that will be required to bring the film to the public.

Olive the Woolly Bugger in 3D CGI

Anyone who has seen the Olive books knows that the illustrations which bring the stories to life are of a traditional, 2D style (the way all animated films used to look).  Thanks to Pixar’s 1995 groundbreaking Toy Story, the first feature-length 3D computer animated film, the majority of animated films are now being done in 3D CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

I’ve been itching to see how Olive might look in a “Pixar-ish” style so I sought a 3D animator to interpret my characters.  Through the Animation, Media & Entertainment group on LinkedIn, I contacted UK-based animator Simon Cornish to inquire about his availability to render Olive and Clark in 3D. When I saw his website, Itchy Pictures, I thought, “This is the guy for the job.” It seemed my destiny to connect with Simon since Olive is a brand of Itchy Dog Productions, my freelance business. Great minds, or at least itchy ones, think alike.

Other than classrooms of elementary school kids, I’ve never had anyone draw Olive before, so I was a bit worried about how another artist might interpret characters that are so near and dear to me. My trepidation was for naught as I was thrilled when I received Simon’s renderings.  Now that my itch has been scratched and I know how she might look in this computer-generated medium, it’s time to forge ahead…

Thank you, Simon, for doing such a wonderful job with Olive and Clark. I’m hoping your work will help launch Olive and Clark toward big screen stardom!