February 3, 2017 at 5:16AM, Edited February 3, 5:24AM

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How to show passing of days, filled with repetitive actions

Hi everyone! I have a short story in mind, which i don't know how to handle.
The character is an old woman, who lives alone in a rural house. Every day is filled with the same activities - early in the morning she wakes up, lights the fire in the stove, feed the animals. Her days are filled with loneliness, she yearn for her children and grandchildren, who have forgotten her. In the evening she pray and go to sleep. Until one day something different happens.

So the question is - how to visualize all this without making it borring.
It's important to keep it short, because it will be a cutout animation done with paper on glass.

First I wanted to be all in the winter, with snow getting deeper and deeper. But maybe it's better to make the days in different seasons - fall and winter for example. Maybe the passing time will be more obvious in this way. But still, if I repeat all the activities, it can be borring.

Any advices?
Thanks!

7 Comments

That's a delicate balance to reach. It needs to be slow and minimalist to sell the loneliness of it but as you recognize, TOO slow is death to a movie. You may want to show the entire routine once, show a shorter version with different clothing & slightly different background, then maybe just a tiny bit of the routine again and again, jump cutting from one day to the next. Make sure you don't cut too quickly or it will spoil the feel.

February 3, 2017 at 8:28AM

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It is said that "Boredom is a matter of choice not circumstance." The same can be said for loneliness. If you merely show the passing of days, you will not build any sense of loneliness. Rather, you should identify what it is in the environment that specifically makes her feel lonely--a plant, a stone, a field, clouds, whatever--and then run that through ways to see it repeated across time to actually build loneliness.

The opening sequence of PIXAR's movie UP is a great example of this.

February 3, 2017 at 8:39AM

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Thanks for the advices!
I think, that loneliness and more important - the yearn for her children, can be visualised by a picture of them. Maybe she looks at it every evening before going to bed. Also one more detail - maybe she waits for a mail that never comes. Checking her mail box every day, despites that never sees the postman comming.
I can make the feel that days passes by without repeating the scenes in the following way: In the first scene she brings woods for the stove. It is a misty late fall. The woods are storred under a shed, and the pile is big at that time. Then, on the second day, after she gets the woods, there will be a montage with the pile getting smaller and smaller, and the next repetition will show her doing the same things, but in the winter. In this way we have only 2 full repetitions of the whole day. But I'm affraid of getting too much attention on the wood pile, which is not important for the story.

February 3, 2017 at 9:08AM, Edited February 3, 9:10AM

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She could get the same three letters (junk mail) and you show postage increasing from 3 cents to 5 cents to 8 cents to 13 cents...

And she can use the junk mail as kindling for the fire.

February 3, 2017 at 8:58PM, Edited February 3, 8:59PM

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This won't work, because it doesn't fit the reality that I want to show. Here in Bulgaria the small villages are depopulating very fast and some of the smallest ones even dissapear. This village is one of them and the woman is the last person left in it (but this will be revealed at the end). So there is no regular post service, no junk mail, no people. And the period that I want to show is just few months, so there is no place for inflation.

February 4, 2017 at 4:25AM

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If you wanted to use one shot, you could have her sit by a window and outside the window is a timelapse of the sun rising and setting over and over.

February 5, 2017 at 7:08PM

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Michael Arell
Director/Producer
82

I think I would go with something like Stephen says. I'm thinking close up / detail shots where things are slightly different and you cut through them quickly as the action happens. A hand putting a dish in the sink, and every 12 frames she has on a different shirt. A plate of food that repeats the same 3-4 meals for a few seconds. At the woodpile, film it over several days so you get slightly different light.

February 6, 2017 at 2:00AM, Edited February 6, 2:00AM

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