Matthew, Sorcha, Andrew, Kerry and I decided early in the summer that we’d like to do a fantasy tv series. We kept coming back to our three characters – Púca who would be a shapeshifter and mentor, Nami who would be a young female and Tato who would be a sentient potato connected to Nami’s past. So far there have been two main directions that we’ve looked at for our story – one where Nami is a bounty hunter and the other where Nami is a witch. Nami as a witch seems to be the team’s preference for going forward.
Bounty Hunter Storyline
For a long time we considered that Nami would be a bounty hunter. I tried to make a season one timeline from some events that we discussed around the whiteboard (top of document).
Nami’s dad was a worshiper of an ancient warrior spirit/God and wanted to be a vessel for this spirit on the mortal plane. Nami is very young and spoils the ritual when she tries to show her dad a potato doll that she made. The summoned spirit/God gets split into 3 – her dad gets the most monstrous side and turns into a beast, the potato doll gets a fighting spirit, and Nami gets small horns. Nami is hidden away by her mother, away from the towns and communities who look down on monsters. At a young age, Nami becomes a bounty hunter. She tries to capture the Púca bounty but he uses his silver tongue to persuade her into a bargain. He will help her if she lets him go free. The agreement is magically bounding. Nami starts to see another side to the monsters that she hunts with the help of Púca. Creatures are wrongly hunted so that humans can harvest their magical properties.
These were some of our favourite log lines for this idea:
- A monster bounty hunter discovers that humans are the real monsters and that their ignorance must be lifted before the balance of magic is destroyed forever.
- A monster bounty hunter tries to help wrongly accused bounties but old prejudices make the kingdom a treacherous place to travel.
- In a world where monsters and humans co-exist a young bounty hunter discovers the blurred lines between good and evil.
Andrew had an episode idea for when Púca and Nami first meet but we read in our research that a pitch episode should give a better example of a typical episode in the show (and not one-off events).
For a while we considered making a trailer or opening to show off our idea. This seemed like a good idea as the submission for Cartoon Forum involves a 45 second trailer. We liked the pacing and structure of the Gravity Falls (2012 – 2016) and Star Vs the Forces of Evil (2015- ) openings.
We agreed on some shot ideas that we liked and then each of us wrote a script for what an opening might look like for our series. I tried to break down the structure of the Gravity Falls opening as I really liked the pacing and how it established the world and characters. I also tried to focus on the theme of ‘not evil, just misunderstood’.
This was the script that I came up with:
This script didn’t seem to convey the character personalities enough so I took some inspiration from Kerry who mixed a voice over with her script and from Sorcha and Matthew’s scripts.
I also tried to get to know our main characters better by using the character tree template from FILM CRIT HULK (blog post on video here).
Character Trees for Púca and Nami (didn’t get as far as Tato)
Matthew wrote out character trees at the same time and we seemed to have written very similarly about what our characters’ wants and needs were, which was a good sign.
The witch story line resurfaced from an older idea which the team started to like again. In this idea, Nami is part of a lineage of witches and her main character traits are more about ambition and impatience.
Nami is terrible at magic and wants to be able to wield powerful spells without the pain of practicing and time. She steals a magical tome from her granny’s library which will let her make a gateway into the underworld and find a familiar.
(This is usually done through a ceremony of witches when the witch is ready to face the underworld trials. The familiar chooses the witch. A witch’s bond with her familiar is a measure of how much magic she can draw from the underworld for spells.)
The spell goes horribly wrong and Nami accidentally tears the veil between worlds, unleashing the myriads of monsters that reside there. Nami is saved by one of the underworld strangelings and its spirit is trapped within a potato as they return to the mortal plane. Nami’s granny is blamed for the chaos and condemned by the council. Púca, who is a family familiar passed down from witch to witch, travels with Nami and Tato to right Nami’s wrongs.
This is our logline so far:
When Nami, an ambitious young witch “borrows” her grandmother’s spellbook, she accidentally tears the veil between realities. It falls to her and her two companions, Púca and Tato, to contain the horrors unleashed.
We returned to the whiteboard and sticky notes to come up with some episode ideas based on this premise.
As a team we outlined a main story idea which we liked and then separately wrote a script each on this idea. In this episode, the trio need to steal a magical amulet from Cassandra, a familiar with a dark past. This is the script that I wrote with annotations from the team:
We considered what was working in each of our scripts and sat down together to make a combined script.
We were worried that this might be too long considering a page is usually a minute so we jumped into making a whiteboard animatic as soon as we could.
A good point of feedback from our presentation was that we haven’t put enough thought into building the world and instead are focusing on an event based world. We’ve been very focused on character as this is something we identified early on as something that could let a short down if done poorly. Thinking of shows that I love (Samurai Jack) I love how the world reflects what’s happening in it. The shape design and proportions are very much related to the characters who inhabit it. I’d love if we could push for a more unique world like this. I also don’t want our project to just be a poor comparison of Harry Potter or other shows with witches (The Worst Witch (1998 – 2001) and Little Witch Academia (2017)). We still need to develop the dynamic between witches and their familiars and how this has affected the world over time.