I am going to prefix this post by stating that this the starting point of Vardo’s story. I am sure, not unlike the hardships he takes on his journey so will my capstone project. For a start, my treatment ended up over 1500 words long! Although after rereading in the cold hard light of day (and a few hours sleep) it was pointed out to me that I use the word ‘forward’ far too many times. I just went back and checked, I used it 7 times in one paragraph, which happens to be the only paragraph that word appears.
Below are my first iterations of the Mood Board and my epic treatment. Some of the other feedback received in class is how can I refine my story so he becomes more concise, and how could I tell Vardo’s story in a two-minute feature. I do not want to shorten my blue sky version of the story, I believe this animation would work in a longer format, but for the capstone, I aim to create a quality animation so will need to keep in mind the relatively short time frame I have to work with.
I am considering creating my final animation as a trailer for the longer format Vardo. If you have any feedback that you believe would benefit from hearing please do comment or send me an email.
Treatment: Version One
The scene opens on a caravan wheel, above it is a clear blue sky, below the lush green grass, and nearby the sound of a church bell swinging gaily and a group of people cheering in celebration can be heard. The camera pans out to reveal a young Romany couple celebrating their marriage.
The Romany couple hand over the money to the coachbuilder and in return they collect Vardo. The young couple is overjoyed and Vardo responds, coming to life, his paintwork sparkles and glows as he basks in the praise of how beautiful he is. The young Romany couple poses proudly in front of their home for a photo (Polaroid or old-fashioned?) and the photo of them both smiling is inserted into an old-fashioned pocket watch case.
Vardo’s family, now with the new edition of a child travels with his family pack, several other wooden caravans travelling together. The people who live in the caravans are smiling and happy.
The caravans stop to camp for the night, dinner is being cooked, and Vardo snoozes peacefully. The quiet night is interrupted by the sound of a police siren. Police on bikes round them up and urge them all to move on. Vardo rousing himself from sleep is scared, he struggles to organise himself and get away from the police. In their haste to get away items from their campfire get left behind.
As Vardo travels through the small village near where they were camping with the police in pursuit villages alerted to the hubbub by all the noise start to take to the streets, they are carrying pitchforks and cricket bats to defend themselves from the perceived intruders. The cobblestone pavement is bumpy and the road is hard for Vardo to navigate, as the wheels bounce up and down over the bricks items fall from the caravan.
Vardo is exhausted and finally finds a space to rest he sinks down, feeling all of his weight as the adrenaline leaves his wooden frame.
As night falls some of the village youngsters creep up to Vardo, joking quietly with each other they place wooden chocks under Vardo’s wheels.
Morning breaks and Vardo prepares to start the journey to the next campsite. He releases his breaks eager to put this unwelcoming town behind him, but his acceleration is thwarted. He tries to move forward again, pulling and straining until rocking back into place with a judder. He pauses to consider his situation for a beat and then starts rocking back and forth, his motions becoming more frantic as his panic mounts, but he doesn’t stop. Items fall from his walls, but he ignores them, focusing on this task until finally his wheels loosen enough so that one last spring-loaded motion ejects the wooden chocks and Vardo catapults himself so fast that speed wobbles shakes his planks. Slamming on his breaks he jerk forwards, the momentum shunting what is left of his equipment to the front of his carriage. Now in control Vardo drops to a more sedate pace.
Vardo reaches a new town he pulls up next to enormous motor homes, the camera pans up to reveal the sheer size of them dwarfing the tiny wooden wagon. Vardo refuses to be cowered by them, he is a Romany, and proud. Safe with the knowledge that his family adore him.
As Vardo travels through the town he notices more shiny new caravans for sale on a sales lot, there are some older wooden wagons dumped behind the building. The old wooden wagons are falling apart, faded, and discarded. Vardo looks at the old wagons with pity, safe with the knowledge that his family treasure him. Perched on the back of Vardo, unbeknownst to him, his family eye the shiny fancy caravans with interest.
When Vardo pulls up to a signed posted ‘Designated Gypsy campsite’ he notices several fancy new caravans there. Vardo’s family demonstrate how interested they are in the fancy new caravans walking over to admire them and talk to their families.
Vardo watches his family, creeping closer to try and hear what they are saying, Vardo finds comfort from his family’s child, the child notices Vardo and waves, then blows a childlike kiss before their mother takes their hand. The family are listening to fancy caravan owner as they animatedly share how amazing it is, Vardo looks on in horror as his family disappears inside.
Vardo and his family approach a fork in the road, the entrance to town is guarded, with a large sign post stating ‘NO GYPSIES ALLOWED’. Vardo slows in trepidation, unsure what to do.
The fancy new caravans travelling with them get through the cordon with ease. Vardo decides to follow suit, getting in line with the others. When it’s Vardo’s turn to pass through the men at the gate standing in front, crossing their arms and shaking their head. They tap the sign behind them and point the other fork in the road. The road in that direction is dark, with the signs of an obvious storm brewing.
Dejected, with no other choice, Vardo and his family travel the harsh road. The road is hard to navigate, everyone is nervous as Vardo creeps along a narrow road on a mountainside. His wheels are right on the edge. As he nearly slips down the side rocks are worked loose, Vardo shunts hard into the left to prevent losing traction, and an item that works loose plummets to down the cliff face making a loud crashing sound as it tumbles down and down.
With relief Vardo’s family make it to the relative safety of a hooded forest area. The clearing is damp, and low lying fog shrouds the family. They are all cold. The family heat bricks in the fire to warm their bed for the night. They sleep together dressed in their winter coats and hats for warmth. Vardo tries hard to provide enough heat to warm them in his tiny hearth, but his family still shiver.
Finally, Vardo and his family make it to the next designated campground. Vardo’s lustre had faded, the harsh journey has broken and splinted his woodwork, and his paint has peeled. His family are welcomed into another’s fancy new caravan and don’t come out. Vardo is left watching and waiting for his family to return.
Time passes indicated by the sun tracking across the sky and Vardo still waits. Shadows are cast long by the time his family return and the perplexed Vardo sets off with once more. Vardo knows that they are supposed to be at this campsite for a few weeks.
The family travel sales lot similar to the one they had seen previously. Vardo starts to get nervous, he slows, finding every bump and pothole in the road in an attempt to slow his journey towards the shiny new caravans and his inevitable fate. His protests only serve him negatively as the final items on the outside of his body fall to the ground, being left behind.
Shrunken with failure and the grief he is being left behind his watches helplessly as his family unload their belongings from his interior and take them to their new home. His one last hope is their child, who refuses to help them. Their child tries to put some boxes back into Vardo, but the child is scolded by his Mother and finally gives up. The enormous motorhome purrs with self-satisfaction. The couple takes a moment to pat Vardo one last time, and walk away from him the reluctant child in their arms. The child stares at Vardo with a tear-stained face, one last tear falling down his cheek.
Vardo’s wheels are cut off and lay inertly against him. He is used as a storage shed, with old discarded items flung haphazardly inside him. Many years pass, freezing winters, scorching summers, wind and rain lashing at his neglected body. Grass and weeds grow up around him, root him to his resting place, imprisoning him. Vardo’s wood has become silver with age and parts of his once proud roof is caved in.
A Romany man approaches Vardo. Vardo has been inert for so long he barely registers he has company. The man walks a loop around his exterior, tugging at the weeds that cover him like a carpet. The Romany man smiles pats Vardo’s shameful exterior. Vardo falls back dormant.
Vardo is shaken awake with the awful feeling of being ripped from the ground. He is being lifted up by a tractor and carried away. He is panicked by his sudden change of pace.
Vardo is taken to a workshop, where the man starts to cut large pieces from him. Vardo realises that this is his final end. He will be hacked apart piece by piece until nothing else remains. He decides stoically to give himself over to his end.
However, instead of being torn apart, he experiences the strange sensation of rehabilitation. Piece by piece he finally comes back to himself, until he feels the gentle caress of the paintbrush, as a new vibrancy is restored.
Elated Vardo and the Romany man exit the workshop, the Romany man, sitting up front pulls an old-fashioned pocket watch from his pocket and flips it open. Inside is contained a weathered photo of the Romany couple standing proudly in front of a newly minted Vardo.