Moon Town and what makes a story tick

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I want to talk about Moon Town for a bit.

Wayyyy back in 2005, wildly inspired by Brian Taylor’s Rustboy project (in which one guy was making a gorgeous animated film in his spare time) I decided to make an animated film… the adventures of a lunar miner and a rookie space cop who accidentally discover an alien race.

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I had fun designing and building spaceships and environments. I was planning on releasing it as a series of little one-minute episodes, and I was well on my way.

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But by 2007, I realized to my disappointment that at the rate I was going, it would have taken me decades to make even the first one minute segment in my spare time, after demands of a full time job and family. I set Moon Town aside and worked on some other stuff.

But then, in 2009, I saw the trailer for Duncan Jones’ MOON and it really kickstarted me, and I had Moon Town fever all over again.

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I knew I couldn’t do it as a film in my spare time, and the notion of getting signed to make it with a team for real seemed unlikely, so I began making it as a graphic novel online. It was well-received, and even won an award. But to me, it fell short of what I wanted to make.

I have had a lot of time to think about what bugged me about Moon Town, and it’s clarified by comparing it to Moon, which re-inspired me. MOON knew what it was. It speaks to isolation and the sometimes dubious value of a worker to a company. It’s horrifyingly relatable.

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MOON TOWN, on the other hand, did not know what it was. Alien, Star Wars, Flapjack, Secret Show. Where on that spectrum should Moon Town be? I had young kids, and leaned toward cartoony, both in presentation and idea. I worried people would dismiss it as silliness. What to do?

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I waffled, which is the worst thing you can do creatively. I wanted it all, something silly and fun, but something you could take seriously. Something with adventure and horror and cartoony jokes and yada yada. Even during production, I was spinning in circles, and it shows.

And I guess that’s my message to anyone thinking about trying to make something: They say “make something you want to see.” But how can you make what you want if you don’t know what it is? “I like everything” is a terrible answer. You have to edit. Be intentional. Disciplined.

As far as Moon Town goes, I’m proud of wide swaths of it, but I see now that I needed more discipline in creating it. In making something that knows what it is, it will have a better chance of being worthwhile. And of connecting with an audience.

If I dig into it again – and I sincerely want to – it will be with that in mind.

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