Writing “The Cat” with Jess Byard
It’s a weird thing to write about your own writing process. When I started writing “The Cat”, I was just starting to get back into the groove of script writing. For years, I wrote for various websites writing reviews for genre labels and while I loved every minute of it I couldn’t deny the itch in the back of my brain. Writing about movies was great but writing my own movies seemed so enticing. I had written a couple short scripts for classes in the past but I had never been able to really see my work come to life in a visual medium.
When I started working with Red Point Digital I quickly realized this was a place that I could learn to collaborate and that would encourage me to bring my own ideas to the table. But what ideas? I hadn’t thought about writing in a narrative capacity since I was in school. I had plenty of notebooks with ideas scrawled inside. But none of them seemed right for the medium of stop-motion. I wanted to think of something brand new, something bite-sized.
Around this time, I’d been having a lot of trouble sleeping. Every night for a solid month, I’d be woken up by scratching at my bedroom door. Well, scratching is putting it lightly. See, my husband and I are cat people and when we moved in together he brought his little black cat, Inga, with him. During waking hours, she’s a joy but during the darkest hours of the morning she becomes a tiny demon. Her “scratching” sounds more like a 10 foot monster splintering our wooden door with ease!
This went on for weeks. Every night between 3am and 6am she’d be there beating our door down. One particularly grueling evening, I gave up on going back to sleep. I’d fed the beast but now my mind was whirling with ideas. Other cat owners experience this, they know the struggle. So why not create a world in where this cat could thrive?
The initial draft of, “The Cat”, was less than two pages long and didn’t take much time to write. After getting feedback, the script ended up being just under four pages which, in movie time, equates to a 3 or 4 minute short. It was sort of whirlwind when I look back on it. I’d never sent my scripts to anyone before so I wasn’t really expecting anything other than feedback. But for the last 6 months my story has been brought to life.
Stop-motion has been a love of mine since I was a child. My mom and nana had introduced me to the Rankin/Bass animated Christmas movies when I was very young. I usually looked forward to watching those during the season more than I looked forward to Christmas itself. As I got older and my tastes changed I sought out fare like Nightmare Before Christmas, Army of Darkness, and the original King Kong.
Writing is often a solitary experience and because of that it can be really hard to let others in on it. Having Maggie and Tony take my script and bring it to life really opened my eyes to the world of collaboration. I never thought that I’d be able to work in an environment like this in Akron but the city is full of talent just waiting to erupt!