First script

How to write a cartoon script, how to do brainstorming, what Hemingway advises screenwriters and what the Gypsy Baron approved?

By and large, thinking up a script is very easy. But putting things together is hard. After the made-to-order videos, we wanted something for the heart: something ample, wide-ranging, and fun. The picture, as we thought, was supposed to be entertaining, light, and full of humor. It is hard to make a film about something serious (but as it turned out, making jokes is a hell of a deal!). As for jokes and gags, these should be clear to everybody. And, of course, we were aiming for a worldwide audience.

As we live and work in Moldova, we came up with a great idea: let the plot unfold somewhere between the Dniester and the Prut, only not today, but 150-200 years ago. The area here is fertile, and many have been here before … I must say we didn’t want to get involved in historical debate, let the serious men with academic degrees sort it out. To get the picture, we needed the most apolitical and most colorful of the heroes of all the nations that are associated with our country. And who are the most colorful, mystical, and freedom-loving? The Roma, of course. Hot south, scorching sun, ruby wine, carts, cards, colorful skirts, vibrant songs… Well, we refused the songs, because our cartoon was not supposed to contain dialogues. But we decided to make full use of the other stuff!

Of course, we considered ourselves experienced screenwriters, but we needed someone as savvy as us. So, we offered to work on the script to Serghei Uzun, a well-known modern writer is known on the Internet as Фрумыч.

And there was a brainstorming session. Day and night. For a month or more. The creativity flowed in a torrent, sweeping away logic and common sense:

 – And why did he go there, huh? What for?

– I don’t know! Maybe he’s a fool…

– And he kills someone with a horseshoe!

– No! That’s terrible! Better start giving birth in the field.

– A cemetery! We need a cemetery here.

– What for?

– Well, first of all, it’s beautiful… A cemetery and a well.

– Why a well?

– Why not?

– Why don’t we let them crawl and see some wheels there?

– And they crawl through the cemetery…

– And there is a fence made of wheels in the cemetery.

– And on the tombstone, a gang leader is standing!

– If it’s made of wheels, it’s Michelin on the tombstone!

– We’ve got a brilliant idea. Let’s have them fly over here and get into the realm of the dead!

– What’s the point?

– I don’t know… It’s beautiful.

– And the tabor leaves…

– And the sign says: ” 50 km to the sky”. And an arrow upwards.

– And a well?

– Why a well?

– It’s beautiful!

– And let them drink!

– By the well!

– Why by the well? Let them just drink.

– Sure. But we won’t show it in the cartoon.

– Why is there a dog here? There was no dog!

– No way! Dogs are everywhere!

– Hello! We’re going to have a turkey!

– Congrats!

– What do you think of it?

– What kind of turkey at 3:00 in the morning?

– A funny one. And stupid. We’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

– Rain!

– No rain in the script.

– Rain is a mood.

– And when a man pulls instead of a horse, is that not a mood?

– Let it rain.

– Let me guess… You already drew the rain?

– Yeah. Why waste it?

– And he goes there…

– To do what?

– I don’t care anymore. Let him do what he wants.

– He’s spinning them on a rope!

– Didn’t he cut the rope?

– Shit. What if he’s tied with two ropes?

– Sounds nice…

– I love that…

– Great-great-great…

– Let’s approve the script?

– Approved.

– Hello? We changed everything… Will you come over?

 Writing a script is never easy. Sometimes we had moments of frustration when we wanted to give up and quit. Sometimes, when we were inspired, we would jump for joy: “This is so cool!” The quote “write drunk, edit sober” is attributed to Hemingway. However, we did everything sober. Though, if you listen to our dialogues, you would think nothing happened without a bottle (or even two or three) 🙂

The script we got was more like a cocktail of a fairy tale, a spy thriller and a sitcom with dark humor.

 Just take a look:

Gypsy and Death

Gojo the Gypsy and his family were on their way to town. And on the road Death was standing, also going to town, looking for a hitchhiker. He saw a cart coming. Death thumbed a lift, but Gojo was asleep and passed by. Then Death became angry with the Gypsy and took his horse. Gojo woke up, saw the dust, and Death was flying away on his beloved horse, Buce…

The Gypsy was sad, and so were his family – pregnant wife Zara, grandfather Baro, son Tagar and turkey Ilo. But there was nothing to be done, he could not leave his belongings and family on the road. Gojo dragged the cart forward, thinking about his horse. 

After dragging the cart for a while, Gojo got tired by night. Then he saw a well in front of the forest and decided to put up for the night. And the forest was not an ordinary one, but a magic one. Ilo the turkey, the gypsy’s faithful companion, entered the forest, lost his way. On a clearing where a big oak tree grew, Ilo suddenly saw Death and the horse Buce.

The turkey quickly found his way to the lodging, told Gojo everything, and together they set out to rescue Buce. The night had already fallen, and they crept stealthily to the edge of the forest and decided: while Ilo would distract Death with dances and songs, Gojo would take the horse away.

Everything would have been fine, but Death could not be fooled so easily. He noticed Gojo jump up on the horse and threw a magic rope of smoke around Buce’s neck, then started pulling him closer to himself. The horse was frightened, thinking that’s the end. But Gojo was a brave man.

He began to gallop around the oak tree on his horse, and tied Death to the tree with his own rope, so that Death could not even move.

He took his horse, embraced it, and they rode to the cart. Gojo was overfilled with joy – there was freedom, his friend besides, his native land and family. What else was needed to be happy?

 When it began dawning, the mist descended on the land, and Gojo with Buce and Ilo came out of the woods in a great mood. The gypsy harnessed his horse, got into the cart and pulled the reins: ” Go, Buce!”

 Suddenly the cart tilted and fell to the ground with a rumble. What happened? That’s what happened – the wheels were stolen at night!

But our Gypsy did not lose heart, and together with Buce grabbed the tent and went on their way. After all, the main thing was that they were all together!

The family had just left, when the contented Death appeared on the road, with one of the cart wheels dangling from his scythe.

 Death is no companion for a Gypsy after all!

© Simpals, 2008

 Finally, for a bird’s-eye view of the story, we wrap the story in a three-part compositional scheme.

The Gypsy Baron said “Yes!”

And so, when the idea took shape and the script was almost completely ready, we thought, “What will the Roma say about our story? Won’t they laugh at us or swear at our fiction? So, we decided to visit baron Artur Mircea-Mihailovich Cerari, the chief Roma in Moldova, living in Soroca. By the way, if anyone doesn’t know, “baron” is not a noble title. A respected man who is in charge among the Roma is called “baro”. That’s how the word “baron” came about.

We went to get the approval of all the Roma of Moldova. That’s right, they call themselves Roma, not Gypsies.

 The baron took our project seriously, read the script, smiled, and suddenly said seriously:

 – A philosophical parable… I like it. Only, what is this strange name for a horse – Buce?

– It’s a shorter name from Bucephalus, — we explained.

Artur Cerari thanked us for the good idea, for the visit, for showing respect to Roma culture, and approved the script with a large signature.

And then the real magic of creative exploration began.

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