The secret to storytelling
Show and tell Chris Oatley has joined forces with Rome’s IDEA Academy to present The Story Design Conference – a week-long event where you can mingle with the pros
While bonding over Italian cuisine with children’s book illustrator Valerio Fabbretti, Chris Oatley discovered IDEA Academy in Rome, which, he says, has “a relentless passion for its students’ well-being and success, and a very collaborative approach to teaching.” After Skyping with the team at IDEA, Chris was asked to fly out to Rome and do a workshop or panel, planting the seed for The Story Design Conference.
Chris wanted his event to be unique: “I started thinking about what’s not out there,” he says. “I didn’t want to create a situation where the rhythm of the conference was to sit quietly and watch famous artists be awesome. I wanted to create something that was collaborative and personal. I wanted a small venue: not this huge auditorium with thunderous applause, but rather a very personal space where magic can happen.”
Chris believes the magic happens when we share our stories, so it was only natural that the Rome-based event should tackle the difficult task of storytelling.
How do you create a story, visually? Whether it’s The Legend of Zelda or The Lord of the Rings, dramatic stories ignite imaginations. “I almost guarantee you that most people enter this industry because of one of those great visual stories,” says Chris,
“I recently realised that if I don’t have to do things solo, I don’t want to,” he continues. “I’m very collaborative.” So Chris brought a few other industry experts on board to create his “dream team”, beginning with screenwriter and director, Brian McDonald. “For those of you who don’t know, when Pixar gets stuck, he’s the guy they call.” Completing Chris’ lecturer list are Disney’s Claire Keane and DreamWorks’ Jenn Ely.
The conference will cover everything from the practical nuts and bolts of your workflow to how to inspire your creativity. Claire’s presentation will cover her speciality: creating believable characters, and she’ll also be demonstrating her pastel skills. Jenn will be explaining colour scripts and providing a talk with Chris about discovering your own unique visual voice, addressing the question of specialisation and versatility. Brian, meanwhile, will tackle the integration of production design and character development: how the two can relate and how you can tell stories about your characters through production design.
If that’s not enough, the team will be on hand to review your portfolio and guide your personal projects. Generate your ideas throughout the week, get your creative juices flowing while at the conference and you have the ability to bounce them off the experts. “It’s going to be empowering and inspiring, but also very practical,” says Chris.
The Story Design Conference runs from 27 September to 2 October, in Rome, Italy. Check out http://ifxm.ag/story-rome for more information and tickets.
I didn’t want to create a situation where the rhythm of the conference was to sit and watch artists be awesome
The Story Design Conference will be held in Rome, and here’s the key artwork as painted by Jenn Ely, who took visual cues from the Eternal City.
As well as speaking to attendees, Claire Keane will be painting in pastels – something she’s well known for.
Jenn Ely believes that art truly comes alive when knowledge and technique collide with risk.