The Animated Visions: Story Development Lab aims to help participants develop their animated project ideas into a fully realised pitch with a concrete logline, treatment and character biography. There, participants will have the opportunity to receive one-to-one feedback from award-winning filmmakers Jerrold Chong (Finding Pictures) and Harry and Henry Zhuang (Weaving Clouds) on how to develop their projects into the next animated hit! 

We speak with Simone Tam, Kimberly Wee and Wai Zi Ying, the Best Pitch winners of last year’s Story Lab, about their takeaways from the lab, their project Murphy In Retrograde, future production plans and more! 

Tell us about yourselves! 

The three of us first crossed paths on a film set (for a short film about a man chasing his dream to be a stock photo model). Many lunch breaks and after-hours conversations later, we developed an unspoken affinity over our curiosity about love – in all its confusion and resentment, but also in its tenderness and kinship. Inspired by adult animations that move fluidly between complex subjects and whimsical visuality, the three of us wrote Murphy together as a way of picking apart our personal experiences with love, and developing compelling ways to navigate its complexities through philosophy, storytelling and art. 

Why did you decide to join the story lab last year? 

Having already produced material from writing Murphy as an independent creative project in school, we didn’t know what to do to further develop it. Lacking a sense of direction, industry knowledge, and animation pitching experience, we saw the story lab as an opportunity to acquire the relevant skills to cultivate our script’s potential, as well as to meet new people in the field.

Tell us briefly about your project. 

A young woman named Murphy romps around a time-bending space station in search of Jeeves, but is instead faced with a strange surprise – her exes. All of them.

What is the most interesting thing you learned from industry experts? 

Honestly, the most valuable thing we learnt were the hard realities of being in the industry. We were grateful for how honest the industry experts were when explaining animation processes — from the beginning stages of conceptualising a script, to the gritty task of securing funding from grants, pitches etc. It was also amazing to witness how community and solidarity are then naturally organised from these challenges. 

The team pitching their project at SCAPE.

What aspects of your project changed over the course of the lab? 

Definitely our logline (we wrote almost 10 different versions of it throughout the course of the lab!). But with that also the heart of the story we wanted to tell. What began as a playful question we had posed to each other – if you were forced to talk to your ex-partners again, what would you say? – developed into a deeper exploration of what love means to us, and how we can make the most out of every bizarre and banal moment spent together with people in both our present and past. 

Lastly, our goals for the project changed – understanding the industry and recognizing our amateurism, we emerged with a more realistic timeline, plan of action, and portfolio-building process. 

Would you recommend this lab to others? 

Yes! On top of gaining valuable insights into the industry, what we appreciated the most about the lab was the opportunity to befriend fellow animation enthusiasts – it was wonderful to be in a space filled with people who loved watching, creating and experimenting with animation as much as we did.  

With the other lab participants and mentors Jerrold, Harry and Henry.

Any future plans for your project moving forward?

As storytellers first and animators never, we are flirting with the idea of writing and producing Murphy as a graphic novel before making it a full-fledged animated series. This way, we take everything we’ve learnt from the lab whilst still capitalising on our strengths as writers, and hopefully emerge with a detailed storyboard that we can then use for production.  

Feel free to reach out to Simone, Kim and Zi Ying on Instagram @murphyinretrograde – any and all conversations are welcome!

Have an animated story idea but not sure how to develop it? Sign up for this year’s Story Development Lab by 19 September 2022! Visit our Instagram page (@cartoonsunderground) for more details!

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