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Month: April 2013

Storytelling Advice: Make Me Care

Storytelling Advice: Make Me Care

(Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “WALL-E”) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning.)

This is a Ted talk Andrew Stanton gave in 2012. I think it’s an essential view for any writer. Note that there is a poopy word at the beginning of this video.

One of the first points he makes is that a story should make you care. This is what I personally want most in a story. Make. Me. Care.

This is why I don’t go for big dumb boring action movies. You know the type: huge explosions, interchangeable “good guy” with a gun, indistinguishable love interest, and cookie cutter bad guy. Why should I waste my time and money in a world where I don’t care about the outcome?

He makes a few other points in the talk that I’ve cribbed from one of the commenters:

– A story should start off with a well-told “promise”, like a hook or sales pitch

– A story should give the audience the “2+2”, not the “4”

– Characters should have “spines” & itches they’re always trying to scratch

– Change is fundamental; life is never static

– “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty”

– Know your rules and know when to break them

– Strong unifying theme

– Sense of wonder

Bottom line. Check out this video.

Night of the Comet

Night of the Comet


So I watched this movie Night of the Comet last night on Netflix. Night of the Comet, I’ve gathered, is one of those cult-classic 1980s films I had never seen. The movie can also be described as a science fiction, horror, zombie apocalypse, comedy film.

I had never seen Night of the Comet before last night, but I can be forgiven I think, since the movie was rated PG-13 and I was less than 13 when it came out in 1984. I was probably instead watching Star Wars on a rented VCR for the thousandth time instead.


The Earth is passing through the tail of a comet, an event which has not occurred in 65 million years, the last time coinciding with the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. On the night of the comet’s passage, large crowds gather outside to watch and celebrate.

18 year old Regina “Reggie” Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart) works at a movie theater in southern California. She is annoyed to find the initials DMK have the highest score on the theater’s arcade game, all the other scores being hers. She stays after the theater closes to become number one again, then later has sex with her boyfriend, the theater projectionist, in the steel-lined projection booth. Meanwhile, Reggie’s 16 year old sister Samantha “Sam” (Kelli Maroney) argues with their stepmother, who punches her in the face.

The next morning, a reddish haze covers everything, and there are no signs of life, only piles of red dust surrounding empty clothes. Unaware that anything strange has happened, Larry goes outside and is killed by a zombie. When Reggie goes looking for Larry, she finds the zombie eating him. She runs away and heads home to find her sister. Sam had spent the night in a metal shed, and was also shielded from the comet’s effects.


Night of the Comet is paced like an 80s movie. There are no sudden MTV-style camera changes (hurl). The movie doesn’t begin with anything going “boom”. In fact, the movie opens with the protagonist, Catherine Mary Stewart, playing the arcade game Tempest. Of course I was hooked at this point.

This gives me an excuse to post a photo of Catherine Mary Stewart as Maggie from one of my favorite movies of all time: The Last Starfighter.


Night of the Comet fits in the horror genre, but it isn’t horror-movie scary. The protagonists have hope. You wind up caring for them, these two sisters thrust into this post-apocalyptic world. That’s all I ask of a movie, really. Make me care.

The movie is full on 1980s. It looks 80s. It feels 80s. 80s dialogue. 80s costumes. 80s problems (plus zombies).

This is the type of movie I needed to see after the week we all (humanity) had last week. Apocalypse, I can handle. It’s the worry about that trash can over there exploding on my and my family that keeps me up at night.

BMO, Jake, and Finn – Adventure Time

BMO, Jake, and Finn – Adventure Time

BMO, Jake, and Finn drawn by my 6 year old daughter.

This is what I mean when I say my daughter is a better artist than me. I love everything about it, but I especially love the little details. She told us after she drew it that she drew Finn with only one sock because BMO is holding the other one. This is, of course, inspired by the episode BMO Noire.

Finn The Human

Finn The Human

What a week? Am I right?

Anyway, I figured I’d post this pic of Finn from Adventure Time I drew last weekend. I just got around to coloring it.

Here is the colorized version:

And here is the “before”, colored with color pencils.


Adventure Time’s Marceline

Adventure Time’s Marceline

I’m not a very good artist. I’ve always wanted to be good at drawing, because I’ve loved comic books and cartoons my entire life. When I was younger this lack of drawing talent didn’t stop me from drawing, or course. As the years went on, however, I got away from even attempting to draw more than stick figures.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped letting the fact that I can’t do something stop me from doing that thing. Heck, I built a coffee table on my own. I can’t do that. So, I figured, why not give drawing another crack.

I’ve also found that art time is a nice way to fill time with my kids, especially when I want them to step away from the computer and television for a bit. It also helps that my daughter is already showing the artistic talents of my wife and quite enjoys drawing. She is better than me already. And I love that.

So on Saturday afternoon, my son worked on a Lego sculpture, my daughter drew a really rad picture of Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I drew Marceline from Adventure Time. Here is my pencil drawing, which I thought was pretty decent.


I thought it would look better in color. Here is where I admit I’ve never previously been able to take something I’ve drawn by hand, scan it, and successfully color it in Photoshop. It just always turns out bad. But again, I didn’t let that stop me.

Here’s the finished, colorized product. Not bad, I think. Special thanks must go out to the artist that drew the image I modeled this after. If I can find the original, I’ll link to it.