Monday, October 8, 2012

Case Study No. 0572: The Librarian (Plasmo)

PLASMO Episode
While researching star charts to find a way home, Plasmo helps the librarian deal with a problem of a book eating creature, slowly destroying thousands of years of accumulated knowledge.
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Added: 1 year ago
From: coredor
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[scene opens with a "flashback" featuring a comet blasting a hole through the middle of a planet]
NARRATOR: Decimated by a comet impact centuries ago, the planet Monjotroldeclipdoc ...
[cut to various shots of the main characters]
NARRATOR: Where Plasmo, Parsty and Nik Nik are marooned together with ex bounty hunters Brucho and Coredor.
[cut to more shots of the exterior of the planet]
NARRATOR: Within the protective chasms of the crater city, they search through ancient star charts, hoping to find a way back through the depths of space, hoping to find a way home ... But for Plasmo and his friends, time was running out.
[cut to inside the building marked "Public Library", as Plasmo is trying to look at a chart for the Molfut system, but there is a big hole in the middle of it]
PLASMO: Parsty, I didn't know there was a black hole in the Monjotroldeclipdoc quadrant.
PARSTY: That's not a black hole, Plasmo. This star chart's been ... eaten away.
LIBRARIAN: [from off camera] And that's not the only one!
[cut to the librarian (an obese male creature with pale skin, glasses, no shirt, and blue shorts while rolling around in a mechanical chair) emerging from a room marked "Quiet Please!"]
PARSTY: It's the librarian!
[the librarian's robotic glasses automatically raise up on his face]
[he pushes a lever on his chair, and all of the star charts - each one with a hole in the middle - extend from the wall]
LIBRARIAN: On this shelf alone, a thousand years of priceless knowledge, destroyed!
[a bookshelf automatically scrolls in front of them, with shelves marked "Hectoplasmic Anatomy"; "Novels from the Zarbek Region"; "Anti Matter Weight Control"; "Bridge Building in Zero Gravity"; "Cotology 213"; and "Classical Holography"]
PLASMO: It's like something's burrowed into it!
LIBRARIAN: Well, whatever it is, it's got to be stopped before it destroys the whole library!
[cut to the two former bounty hunters emerging from the stacks]
COREDOR: Don't worry! Your problems are over!
BRUCHO: Brucho and Coredor, pest removalists, are here!
PARSTY: Brucho! Coredor! What do you two know about removing pests?
[Coredor takes a retractable "net" out of his pocket]
COREDOR: Hey! We didn't spend two years at bounty hunter school for nothing, y'know!
[Brucho (after some difficulty) activates his net, as Parsty whispers to Plasmo]
PARSTY: [whispers] Plasmo, they're activating their Astro Wands!
PLASMO: [whispers] Uh oh ...
COREDOR: Okay Brucho, set to stun! There's only one way to deal with vermin like this!
[he tries to use his Astro Wand to send a bolt of electricity through the stacks, but Plasmo stops him]
COREDOR: Hey! What's the big idea, Plasmo?
PLASMO: It might be a friendly creature, Coredor.
COREDOR: [pause] You do it your way, and we'll do it ours!
[Parsty gets a concerned look on her face, as their dog-like creature Nik Nik begins sniffing through the stacks]
COREDOR: Come on, Brucho ... We'll start over here!
BRUCHO: Yes, bwana!
[cut to Nik Nik as he watches a green tail disappear into one of the chewed-out holes in the Mynentenology section]
COREDOR: [from off camera] And don't call me "bwana!"
PARSTY: What's Nik Nik found?
[Plasmo takes a flashlight and looks into the hole]
PLASMO: There's something down there, alright.
PARSTY: Okay, Nik Nik, sniff it out ...
[Nik Nik jumps into the hole]
PARSTY: And be careful!
[cut to Coredor and Brucho making their way through the stacks (including one section labelled "The Art of Bounty Hunting") until they end up backing into one another and nearly scaring each other to death]
BRUCHO: Eee! Ahh! Oh!
[Brucho drops his Astro Wand, so he bends down to pick it up]
COREDOR: Brucho! Don't sneak up on me like that ... 'cause this might've happened!
[he strikes his partner in the backside with his Astro Wand, sending an electric current through him]
COREDOR: Enough games! Now, any sign of that creature?
BRUCHO: It could be anywhere! This library is like a maze!
[cut to a closeup of a "Warning! Do Not Climb Shelves" sign on one of the bookshelves]
COREDOR: Hmmm ... I've got an idea!
[cut back to Plasmo and his friends, as they watch a creature eating its way through the books in the Osteonariology section]
PARSTY: Stand back! Nik Nik's chasing it out of the bookshelf!
[the librarian has a stunned look on his face, as he watches a green worm-like creature eat it way through]
BOOKWORM: Oh, save me! Save me! Call him off! Call him off!
LIBRARIAN: Good heavens!
PARSTY: It's a bookworm!
[Nik Nik jumps out of the bookshelf]
PARSTY: It's alright, he won't hurt you ... will you, Nik Nik?
PLASMO: He's a good doggie!
[cut to Coredor and Brucho climbing one of the bookshelves]
COREDOR: We'll be able to get a good view from the top, then we'll be able to locate the creature's position!
[cut back to the Bookworm, as he is apologetically explaining his position to the librarian]
BOOKWORM: I thought books contained knowledge, but the only thing I get from eating them is indigestion! And now I got a big tummyache!
LIBRARIAN: There's a better way of getting the knowledge from books. In fact, it's the only way! It's called "reading!"
BOOKWORM: "Reading?"
[cut back to the two bounty hunters hanging precariously from the bookshelf]
BRUCHO: Any sign of it?
[Coredor, standing on top of the bookshelf, looks through his binoculars]
COREDOR: Not yet. I'll try infrared!
[Brucho starts slipping and causes the bookshelf to start rocking back and forth]
COREDOR: Careful, Brucho! You're rocking the shelves!
BRUCHO: Ahh! I'm falling! Save me, Coredor! Save me!
COREDOR: Here, grab the handle and hold on!
[he holds out his Astro Wand, but Brucho accidentally activates it and Coredor ends up getting electrocuted]
[cut back to the librarian showing the Bookworm his book "How to Read in 101 Easy Lessons"]
LIBRARIAN: This is called an alphabet, and it's one of the things you'll need to learn in order to read.
BOOKWORM: A ... B ... C ... D ... Oh, I can't learn from this book!
LIBRARIAN: Well, it would help if we didn't have the abridged version!
[he points to the hole in the middle of the book]
BOOKWORM: I'm sorry. From now on, I'll try reading books, instead of digesting them.
[the librarian turns toward Plasmo and his friends]
LIBRARIAN: Thank you Plasmo, Parsty, and Nik Nik. You've helped save the library.
[Plasmo notices that all of the bookshelves are starting to fall like dominoes at the other end of the library]
PLASMO: There's just one more problem ...
LIBRARIAN: What's that?
PLASMO: Saving the library from Brucho and Coredor!
[cut to the two bounty hunters "riding" the bookshelves as they continue to fall one by one]
[cut to an exterior shot of the library (the sounds of the bookshelves collapsing still audible), as the scene fades to black]

Plasmo ... Abbe Holmes
Parsty ... Pia Morley
Coredor ... Phillip Houghton
Brucho & Bookworm ... Paul McDermott
Librarian & Narrator ... Harold Baigent

Story & Script ... Anthony Lawrence
Script Editor ... Dennis Tupicoff
Story Consultant ... Fil Barlow
Storyboard Artist ... Darrel Merritt

Creature Designer ... Fil Barlow
Puppet Design & Construction ... Anthony Lawrence
Creature Sculptors ... Richard Mueck, Helen Maier
Mouthpart Sculptor ... Bruno Annetta
Foam Latex Technician ... Mike Logan
Creature Painter ... Rita Abbate-Kramer

(c) Plasmo Mega Studios Pty Ltd 1993
The characters Plasmo, Parsty, Nik Nik, Coredor & Brucho are copyright of Anthony Lawrence 1988



Plasmo and the Bookworm (1993)
Short film | Animation | 5mins | Completed

Director: Anthony Lawrence
Writer: Anthony Lawrence
Producer: Michael Agar

Production Company: Plasmo Mega Studios Pty Ltd
International Sales: Plasmo Mega Studios Pty Ltd
Australian Sales: Plasmo Mega Studios Pty Ltd

Searching through ancient holographic star charts, Plasmo discovers a destructive force at work in the library of MONJOTROLDECLIPDOC. Armed with nothing but his goodness, niceness and friendliness, the star-orphan Plasmo finds himself engaged in a race against time to find the source of the destruction and save centuries of knowledge from total ruin.

Animation, Children's, Science Fiction, Travel & Adventure

Adelaide International Children's Film & Video Festival (1994)
Annecy International Animated Film Festival (1997)



Plasmo was originally a character I developed in a short Super 8 film in 1981. It was called "Plasmo versus the Space Bullies" and was quite popular with the other College students.

In 1983 I made a sequel, also on Super 8 , called "Plasmo and the Space Party.

But Super 8 has limitations, particularly with quality and what can be done with the final product. So I bought a second hand 16mm Bolex and in 1986 started to create a new Plasmo film to be called "Happy Hatchday to Plasmo".

Three times I applied to the Australian Film Commission for funding to help me make the film, and three times I got knocked back. All the time I continued working on the film and began updating the ABC on my intentions to create a childrens animation which hopefully they would be interested in buying upon completion.

Finally, two years later, the film was complete and I sent a copy up to Sydney for the ABC to view. While I was waiting I got to know other animators and continued with emergency teaching and part time work for Melbourne University Plant Sciences field research station out at Derrimut.

A few months into 1989 I finally heard back from the ABC. They wanted to buy it. That pleased me greatly although the price they were offering was way under what I was expecting. I managed to haggle them up just enough to cover some additional post production expenses I had yet to incur in getting the film put to videotape.

The ABC broadcast "Happy Hatchday to Plasmo " played on numerous occassions for the next five years. Following that I put it to the ABC that were I to create a series, would they be interested? They said they would be interested in seeing something, but were not able, or willing to put the money into it at this early stage.

So in 1990 I applied for script development from the Australian Childrens Television Foundation and got started. But two years later, the project was stalled. A new pilot was needed to show investors and buyers what a new episode would look like. Film Victoria put up the money to create a pilot episode. In 1993 Plasmo and the Bookworm was shot over a 4 month period.

The new pilot won an award at the Adelaide Childrens Television Festival, but still took another two years, and a fresh producer, to finally get a series funded. FFC funding guidelines precluded any animation under half an hour, despite the series having a running time of sixty five minutes. Several appeals and 10BA documents later, the money finally came from Film Victoria, an ABC pre-sale, a BBC pre-sale, and a distribution guarantee from Beyond Distribution. The 12 additional episodes for the 13 part series were shot between 1996 and 1997. The series was broadcast on numerous occassions between 1997 and 2002.



SMM: How did Plasmo develop into a television show?

Tony: I originally made up the character of Plasmo in 1981. I was studying Film and Television at a Teachers College at the time and the first Super 8 Plasmo film I shot proved popular with the other students. So I got around to making a second, short Plasmo super 8 film a couple of years later. But I really craved for the professional look of 16mm with its invisible splices and better options for sound and visual quality. I really wanted to have a go at making a professional looking short film using the Plasmo characters. So I saved up, bought a second hand clockwork Bolex and worked part time as an emergency teacher for two years while I made "Happy Hatchday to Plasmo". Along the way I applied for film grants but was unsuccessful each time, so I ended up paying for the whole 26 minute film myself. When it was completed I contacted the Australian Broadcasting Commission to see if they would be interested in showing it on television. In 1989 and after a three month wait I finally got the great news that they would agree to licence it! That inspired me to think of making a Plasmo Series.

I asked the Commissioning Editor at the time, Peter Jackson, if I were to create a series, how many episodes would they like and what duration. He said five minutes duration, as "interstials" between other programs, and that 13 episodes was the standard. It was still up to me however to find the money to make this happen. In 1990 I managed to get a script writing investment from The Australian Childrens Television Foundation, and began fine tuning the series scripts. I found a producer and together we convinced Film Victoria, to funded a new pilot to use as a marketing tool.

That pilot "Plasmo and the Bookworm" was incorporated into the final series, and is why it has a slightly different look to it. It was shot in 1993, on a budget of $50,000. To get any more funding for a series, several things had to be in place. Firstly, a domestic pre-sale. Next, an overseas presale, and also a distribution guarantee from a distributor. It took two years to get all those in place. The ABC agreed to licence it in Australia, The BBC pre-bought it for the UK, Beyond Distribution provided the Distribution Guarantee, and Film Victoria supplied the outstanding amount to make up the budget. In 1996 with the full budget available, the series production commenced. It took about five months of pre production, and eleven months to animate. The core crew was only six, however the art department expanded and contracted as required with many talented sculptors and artists. We had three animation units working simultaneously so we had replicas of all the main characters. At the end of 1997 the series was completed, and broadcast. It was sold into about 24 countries.

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