Film Details

Abbie is a short film that combines live action with animation, funded by Metro Screen in association with Screen Australia.

Written and directed by Erin Good. Produced by Taylor Litton-Strain.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Director's Statement

Abbie is a silent experimental film, with no dialogue or synchronised sound that combines live action and animation. It will be stylised with influences from Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, Věra Chytilová’s ‘Daisies’, Billy Wilder’s ‘The Apartment’ and Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Alice’. The location, set design, props, sound design, animation and grade will be an eclectic combination of different eras, out of place sounds and contrasting colour pallets to create a dystopian world.
Everything from set design and wardrobe, to acting and movement will be exaggerated to construct a visual representation of ideas about escapism, bureaucracy, fitting in, patriarchal structures, and growing up and maintaining your identity. The characters are not real people with human depth and developed backgrounds, but are caricatures of these ideas. This is explored through the eyes of Abbie in a naïve, playful and light-hearted manner.

Ideally actors will have a strong theatre background, and both actors and extras will need to be expressive with their bodies to achieve the caricature style of the characters. We will also approach dance schools for extras that are not only expressive with their bodies, but also familiar with choreography and moving as a group. Choreography will be used to create the robotic army of office workers and express in an exaggerated manner the monotony of the office world. The exaggeration of movement and facial expressions, wardrobe and set design will be used not only to create a dystopian world, but also to bring humour and lightness to the film.

Whilst the film contains mismatching and contrasting elements, as a whole, it can be divided into three different aesthetics: the office world, Abbie and the animated world. These aesthetics will differ both visually and within the sound design and score. Abbie’s movement and look will greatly differ to those of the office workers illustrating that she doesn’t fit in. The animated world will use naïve, childlike art and the most vibrant colours (to be seen in the film) to represent Abbie’s youth and the idea of escapism. While sound design will be used to contrast Abbie and the office world, it will also be used to show an affinity between Abbie and the animated world.

Creative Concept

The Set

The office will look like a cross between a school, typing pool and an office with rows of desks facing the same way, blank walls excluding an obnoxiously large photo of the CEO poised like the Pope with a cigar in his mouth. The items in the office will be from various time periods to create a dystopian office world and sound design will be used to support this. For example, all the computers in the office will be large nineties cream PCs, but typewriter noises will be used in the sound design. There will also be modern props such as the desks, photocopier and other office equipment. Office personnel will wear grey suits, and the few women will have their hair tied in tight buns. The women’s suits will be “unfeminine” and have eighties shoulder pads.

Character Movement

Movement of the employees will be choreographed so they move in rigid unison, similar to the factory workers in Metropolis. Abbie too, will be a caricature with her rosy cherub cheeks, big bright eyes and extremely childish persona, illustrated through her exaggerated movements and how she interacts with objects and people. She’s a cross between the vegemite kids in the old vegemite TV ads and a playful puppy.


The office colours will be dull using predominately cream and grey and an almost painful glare from the florescencent lights. This will be contrasted with the bright colours of Abbie, particularly her red clothing, and the childlike animation will be brighter still.

Sound Design and Score

The sound design will be dense and the minimal dialogue will be inaudible. What is said in the few lines of dialogue is irrelevant, and everything that needs to known will be evident visually, from Abbie’s attempts at making friends, the rejection she faces and the cold intolerance of The Boss. The sound design will be dominated by industrial factory sounds of machines disguised by the overpowering sound of a type writing pool. The lunch bell will be a factory whistle and when the employees rise for lunch they will sound like a marching army. These harsh noises will be contrasted with sweet, whimsical score and sound design when the focus is on Abbie, and her paper man. Abbie’s sounds will be inspired by old cartoons with lots of ‘dings’ and ‘sparkles’. The sound design and score will be integrated with rhythmic sound design constructed to be almost musical.

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