Last week we had the honour of welcoming award-winning filmmaker, animator and author – a master of storytelling – Leo Baker to our blog with an interview (read The Quick Six Interview with Leo Baker). Today, we are fortunate to receive his insights into the behind-the-scenes production of the making of action-packed adventure for middle grade readers, Tuckshop Terrors – this coming from Leo’s incredible experience in visual effects, animation and screenplay writing. Thanks so much, Leo! 🙂

Leo Baker – Tuckshop Terrors

Tuckshop Terrors originally began as some random ideas of quirky action scenes, and further evolved by tapping into the rascal energy and devilish anecdotes of my youth.

Ideas and storytelling development have always been constructed visually in my mind. Beyond what is driving the characters, I think about scenes like I was composing a photographic frame and the design the setting.

Coming from a background in visual effects and animation, my initial intention was to write a screenplay for an animated film. As the story wasn’t fully formed at the outset, the writing process was loose, and I allowed myself the indulgence of more descriptive writing to help realise the fictional settings and circumstances.

Screenplays have intentionally limited descriptive writing and can often be limited to just the telling of dialogue and action. This is to keep focus on the core purposes of the characters, but also so that there is room for interpretation from contributing visual artists, such as cinematographers, production or costume designers. Screenplay writing has no prose. Unless specifically outlining a narrative driving occurrence, words describing sensory experiences and characters feelings are seen as superfluous.

Understanding film and animation development, I suddenly realised that the process of bringing a screenplay version to life would have many dependencies – financial and creative and could likely take many years for others to experience the story.

In my experience working in film, animation and also advertising, I have found one of the most crucially challenging aspects of the creative process is adequately communicating ideas from one person to another. Some people may not be particularly creative or think very visually. Not receiving the same vision can hamper development.

I was enjoying the descriptive writing in the manuscript development, and I decided that having a novelised version of the story could be a terrific way of sharing the creative intention. This is where the benefit of the descriptive writing in a novel form can guide the reader, more directly to how I had constructed it in my mind.

It still took a few years to bring Tuckshop Terrors to life, but the result is an accessible and fun narrative that the reader can just dive into.

But also, where books differ to the film medium – is we are not all looking at the same images. We each form our own, custom visualisations in our imagination. Whilst these may be similar between people, no two imaginations are exactly alike. This is part of the beauty in the escapism of reading. This also meant I could let my fictional ideas run a little wild, colouring the adventure within the story.

About the Author

Working in the film and animation industry in Australia and overseas for the last 20 years, Leo Baker has explored storytelling through a variety of mediums.

Leo was a key creative and the sole animator of the Academy AwardTM winning film adaptation of The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan. He also animated the spider on the film adaptation of Charlotte’s Web. In 2011 Leo was awarded a Winston Churchill fellowship to research animation industries around the world. Leo wrote and directed The Will To Fly, an empowering documentary about the Australian Olympic champion aerial skier, Lydia Lassila.

Leo recently created the visual effects for the ABC Kids series, Planet Lulin. He is writing two feature film screenplays and structuring a potential sequel to Tuckshop Terrors. Leo gives talks in schools through Booked Out Speakers’ Agency. Aside from being a big foodie, some of his personal interests include furniture making, printmaking, cinema and surfing.

Visit Leo Baker at his (awesome) website: Film Creative | Leo Baker, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Tuckshop Terrors can be purchased via Leo Baker’s website.

#thequicksixinterview #tuckshopterrors #action #adventure #mystery #middlegrade #justkidslit

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