or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Month: September 2011

Olive is a character

A posting today on Facebook by Disney Pixar struck me as being very appropriate, and timely. It was a quote by Ralph Eggleston, an art director and animator at Pixar, who came on board during the development of Toy Story. I don’t know anything about him, but his quote sums it all up concisely:

“If you start from the character, everything else will follow.”

I am certainly no authority on character or story development, though I have done both with Olive the Woolly Bugger. In addition to the work I’ve done, I’ve also read articles about character development, and what constitutes a great character.

An excerpt from an interview with Michael Maurer, a screenwriter with an impressive resume for work he’s done on animated projects for film and television, says it well:

“Besides having a unique personality and some endearing character quirks, one of the most important things is that we (the audience) can relate to the character and his situation or his goals, and how he goes about dealing with the challenges that face him throughout the story or the series. Take Bugs Bunny – why is he such a likable character? In part, it’s because we can relate to him.”

Read the entire interview and article HERE.

A great character may be able to carry a sub-par story on their shoulders but I prefer to think that if you start with a great character, it will spawn (to cleverly use a fishing term) a great story.

When I created the character of Olive, I honestly didn’t sit down with a checklist of personality traits and construct her using that criteria. Who she was and would become happened organically, and by that I mean she grew on her own without me consciously trying to mold her.

Let’s look at some of the traits that make Olive a great character:

She’s likeable. Olive is sweet, a bit naive (at first, anyway), and endearing. She’s loyal to her friends and empathetic toward those whom she encounters.

She’s relatable. We’ve all faced some of the same situations that Olive faces. We can identify with her because she is us.

She works hard.  Olive works through adversity as she pursues her goals (which are many and varied as the stories progress). Through determination she perseveres.

She’s humble. Even when she champions the day she is never a braggart. She knows from where she comes and appreciates any successes she has.

She’s perceptive. Olive may not have all the answers, but because she is willing to listen to others and the world around her, she finds answers to questions, even some questions she didn’t know she was asking.

She is unique. The above character traits are who she is, but what she is also makes Olive a great character: she is a woolly bugger. Those who know fly fishing know the virtues of the woolly bugger fly. Those who have no previous knowledge of what a woolly bugger is will like the name for what it is—something that sounds as if it were made up for a children’s story or animated film. And as a woolly bugger, she stands alone. Nobody has ever brought a fishing fly to life, at least not that I’m aware of.

When I fish a woolly bugger I have confidence that the fly is going to produce, not because I’m a great angler but because it’s a great pattern. Similarly I have confidence that Olive will land a Big Fish because she’s a great character.

Olive Film Update, again

Since last week’s update, which wasn’t much of an update, I’ve had another development in the Olive film project saga. Really it’s just a continuation of what had been set in motion earlier, but it certainly warrants an update.

I heard back via email from The Big Fish and I was provided an address for sending them a set of books. This is a good thing–it means they’re still interested enough to see what Olive is all about. So, today all three Olives went out in the mail. In a few days I hope to hear back and find out the next step–if they’re still interested in my idea after seeing the books, it could start to get exciting.

I’ll keep you all posted as I continue to keep this online journal of the adventure.

The Dream is Dead

I must apologize for the slightly misleading headline which was shamelessly intended to simply get your attention.

This is another Olive film update of sorts, with again, not really much to tell you about as far as actual, real progress.  I’m still waiting to hear back from my last correspondence with The Big Fish–I’m not sure when I can hope for a reply, though hopefully before too long as the silence is deafening.

In the meantime I’ve continued working on an outline of the film, including completely new intro and ending scenes. The character bible continues to grow, with new and rich characters not seen in the books. Each day that I add something to the outline of the film, I grow more confident in the viability of the eventual film’s success. This leads me to one very important bit of news worth mentioning that comes not in the form of any actual, tangible progress, rather a philosophical approach to the whole project.

I came to the realization that referring to the project as a dream detracts from the realistic possibiity of it actually happening. While that may be a personal issue, it’s an important one. I need to start seeing this thing as an eventual reality rather than a fantasy.

If one looks at the definition of the word, ‘dream’, we see the following (thanks to Merriam-Webster)

1. A series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep — compare rem sleep
2. An experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream: as a : a visionary creation of the imagination : daydream b : a state of mind marked by abstraction or release from reality : reverie c : an object seen in a dreamlike state : vision
3 . Something notable for its beauty, excellence, or enjoyable quality <the new car is a dream to operate>
4. a : a strongly desired goal or purpose <a dream of becoming president> b : something that fully satisfies a wish : ideal <a meal that was a gourmet’s dream>
As pertaining to the above definitions, there’s ample reason as to why I’m no longer calling this a dream:
1. The idea did not hit me during my sleep. In fact, the original concept for the story of Olive the woolly bugger came to me while mowing the lawn.
2. My concept for the film may be a visionary creation, but the reference to abstraction or ‘released from reality’ suggests the impossible. The film, while it may require considerable alignment of the stars to come together, is far from an impossibility.
3. OK, you got me there. The film will be something of beauty, excellence and enjoyable quality. If it succeeds, maybe I’ll even be able to buy a new car that will be a dream to operate.
4. OK, you got me there, again. It is a strongly desired goal of mine to get this film made.
2 out of 4 ain’t bad.
And so, the dream–while perhaps not “dead”– has been replaced by “goal”.
Stay tuned. In the meantime, can anyone make me a goal catcher?

Wooly Bugger Fly Company – 10% discount

A little over a year ago I set out on an internet quest to discover other business ventures that were named after the ubiquitous Woolly Bugger.  I found several. One that I did not find was the Wooly Bugger Fly Company, but there’s a good explanation as to why I didn’t:  they weren’t around a year ago.

I found out about the Wooly Bugger Fly Company when the owner, Brian, sent me an email a few weeks ago. Apparently he must have done as I had done and searched out Woolly Buggers on the internet.  Brian told me that he was just getting ready to launch his new venture and generously offered to post an Olive ad on his web site. How could I refuse a generous offer like that?  We shared a bit of back-and-forth correspondence, and Brian informed me that he had set up a special discount code for friends of Olive the Woolly Bugger.

Here’s the deal, and there’s no catch whatsoever:

Place an order on Wooly Bugger Fly Company’s site. Enter olive as the coupon code during checkout and you’ll receive 10% off your order.  This includes free shipping for orders over $25 and a free wooly bugger fly.

Check out their site. They offer a decent selection of flies at great prices. They’ll be adding more flies to their categories in time, but according to Brian, “If someone doesn’t see what they need or would like to put in a bulk order, we can work with them.  We will never have the biggest selection.  We want to focus on the most popular flies and sizes.”

They also have some cool hats, t-shirts (I’m getting an olive one, no less), fly boxes and coffee mugs.

Wishing the best of success to Wooly Bugger Fly Company!

Another, very brief, Olive film update

A Big Fish

Since the last update, I heard back from a Big Fish.

I wasn’t anticipating it.

It’s not that I’m a pessimist–hardly–but I am a realist. Even though I’m fishing with a woolly bugger and have confidence in her, I know that big fish don’t come easily.

So there I was on a Thursday night like any other, sifting through junk mail and cleaning out my in-box when a new message popped in from an address I did not recognize, although the last name was unmistakable.

The message was brief. It did not contain an immediate offer of assistance due to a very busy schedule (not surprisingly, Big Fish are very busy). But it was not a refusal and left me with great hope.

I tried not to jump out of my chair for fear of hitting my head on the ceiling. I was successful in avoiding injury, however, I did not sleep much that night.

This is not to say that it was a slam-dunk.

In fact far from it.

But I was very much encouraged. In time, and I do not know how long that time may be, this person may be able to help with Olive’s quest for the Big Screen.

They indicated that if I were not in a rush they would see what they could do.

Of course I obsessed over what to say in a reply, and sweated bullets composing a response. In the end I kept it very simple: I thanked the Big Fish for their time and asked if I could send them a set of books. I suggested that after they had a chance to read the books we might set up a time to chat on the phone, via email, or in person.

I’m still waiting for a reply to my reply, and having difficulty sleeping.