For winter quarter 2020 at SCAD, I am a part of one of the School of Digital Media collaboration classes. Before the first day of the class, each student had to come up with a story to pitch to the class on the first day.
I was selected to be the writer for the story idea that I pitched.
After the first few iterations I had the basic synopsis of the story worked out (no spoilers):
Set in the year 2045, a repurposed pilot droid crash lands in the wilderness, forming an unlikely companionship with a man who has isolated himself from society for years and has forgotten what is like to be human or have compassion.
The majority of the background context will come through set dressing, reports over a radio, dialogue and the design of the droid and the aircraft. There's a good bit of background context that I had to cut for time and budget constraints, but I'll share it here along with what will be conveyed in the short film.
The year is 2045 and society has grown to be completely dependent upon the excessive use of droids. Humans still hold hierarchy in terms of government, but droids are the backbone of a modern world that is in the thick of an environmental crisis. Weather patterns have changed from the increasing tilt from the Earth’s axis. Subtropical jet-streams reach further Northward than ever creating conditions with great potential to create disastrous supercell storms.
The droids are entirely energy self-sufficient through the use of solar technology, not at all reliant upon electricity, or oil and gas, a resource that has been depleted for seven years. The natural resources to build the droids are rapidly depleting with the volume of droid manufacturing, so many of them have been repurposed.
Most individuals find no consequence to this structure, while some fight it. Then there are the few who choose to leave for the fear of losing their sense of the human condition amidst a softening society completely dependent upon droids.
Mark, a prideful, cold and calculated man, chose to leave society and now resides in isolation beyond the Border Cities in an area known as the Renewed Frontier. A land that was known for its untouched beauty, was purchased by an international corporate oil and gas company that once they had stripped it of its precious resources, abandoned the area.
The destruction brought to the ecosystem by the oil and gas company has left game scarce and Mark’s faulty hunting weapon has just scared off the first doe he’s seen in weeks. Incoming radio frequencies tell of the development of a supercell storm that will hit in two days with Mark’s location directly in its path. In desperation, he radios in for an early supply drop from the Northern Frontier Survival Base, an outpost run by humans, who are like Mark.
Mark expects a box of supplies delivered by a human pilot. He gets the burned wreckage of an aircraft and a very persistent former rescue droid, repurposed for piloting, whose core programming is to save humans in distress. The droid is aware of the distress he has caused Mark, and offers his assistance. Mark’s pride makes him highly reluctant, but he establishes an advantageous relationship with the droid where he takes and takes for his own benefit.
Slowly, it becomes a caring companionship, where Mark tries to keep convincing himself of his hatred towards the droid. The viewers get to see the reawakening of a man’s humanity and compassion through the help of a droid that he always believed was going to be the end of it.
Besides developing the story, my first task was to obtain a design for the droid character so that modeling could start early. I commissioned my friend, Zach (https://www.artstation.com/zacharystamand), to be the concept artist for the droid. This process was also several iterations of changes and adjustments to get to the final product.
I wanted something that was friendly. He is taller than the main character, but is thinner in body shape so that he isn't scary or intimidating, more protective than anything. I decided to keep with four limbs, two eyes, etc. considering he is a former rescue droid and for a human in distress, it is comforting to see and receive help from someone or something that resembles themself.
More blog posts to come!