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  • Christine Figurski

Monsters and Mer-gators

Updated: May 10, 2020

Hello! Welcome to the beginning of my journey in creating an animated short film from concept to completion. It will be a long process for sure, but I am beyond excited to work with the amazing group I am a part of and see what we can accomplish.


We began planning and meeting in the Fall of 2019, gathering individuals in our program that we felt we worked well with and discussing our goals. Over the winter break, we met a handful of times to talk about our pipeline and schedule, as well as being open about mistakes we want to avoid as a group. This led us to meet with our university’s Ombudsman, an office that specializes in conflict management and facilitating team communication. Though we had not come upon any conflicts yet, we have all experienced groups that suffered from miscommunication and unhealthy dynamics, so our goal was to prepare ourselves for dealing with conflict in a more productive way.


We had a preliminary meeting with Teresa Ralicki, an Ombudsman for UCD, where Hogan and I explained our goals and desired outcomes for our team in the coming year and a half. From this, she was able to prepare a more tailored training that would help our group. A meeting with Teresa and the entire group produced this agreement document, which outlines the core values we share, assumptions we should be making, and behaviors to apply in our group dynamic.

Ombuds Group Agreement
Download • 61KB


With this in place, we felt much more confident we were all on the same page, which I believe has instilled a greater sense of trust amongst us. Now that we had a structure to work with, we were ready for our first story meeting of the semester. This is where several of our group pitched whatever story ideas they had thought of. A decent span of stories was proposed, ranging from a classic Russian Fairy Tale to one revolving around an alligator mermaid from Florida. After several hours of discussing, we narrowed it down to three potential ideas: A retelling of a classic Russian Fairytale, a spin-off of the IRS (International Reaping School) production which would focus on a baby reaper, and one about a human living with monster roommates.


To choose between these, we went through the pros and cons of each, both in terms of story and production cost.

Ultimately, we felt that the Monster Roommate story had the most freedom for telling an interesting story while meeting the production goals and strengths of our team. While we had all agreed on a general story direction, we were still far from a complete concept. Brainstorming ideas and gags was easy, but turning that into one coherent plotline from scratch is difficult with ten voices in the room. So, we all agreed to write a brief story treatment based on any of the story starters we came up with as a group during our weekly Saturday meeting. On Monday we all came in with our pitches, talked about what we liked/disliked about each, and were able to produce our first pass of story beats and character ideas:

While we still haven’t reached a decision on characters, we have enough of an idea of our cast to draw our first pass of story beats! Sections of the story have been assigned to a few members of the group to draw, while the rest will work on gathering style sheets and making Pinterest boards for our creative brief.

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