One Eighty One Animation Challenge

One Eighty One Animation Challenge

July 4 to Sept 22, 2021

Can a lone animator write, direct, animate, voice a feature-length film over the course of eighty days?

Sure. If you believe…

Now, we’re not talking about hand-drawn animation; it’s gonna have to be digital, vector, cut-out, something or other. Maybe a little limited, a little minimalist. Maybe a little UPA, a little South Park.

Personally, I’ll be using Moho 13.5 animation software.

Join us, won’t you. Let’s see how many animated features we can make between July 4 and September 22, 2021 (Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere).

Different folks have different designations for ‘Feature’. SAG likes 80 minutes. Sundance likes 50. The Academy says anything over 40 minutes is a feature.

I’m shooting for 75 minutes. Including the credits. Which probably won’t be that extensive. Unless…

First off, of course, you need a script. Maybe not a fully developed script, but you’ll need something to guide you, keep you on track.

You just need a story you want to tell. Which will probably involve some character who is trying to do something. And either this thing is accomplished or not. And maybe said character learns something along the way. And that’s the end.

How does it all unfold? You need structure. Beginning, Middle, End. That’s your story.

And this bit about breaking your story into parts goes way back to Aristotle’s Poetics around 335 BCE.

Aristotle says the purpose of Drama is to arouse in the audience feelings of PITY and FEAR, and to purge these emotions – CATHARSIS – thereby making people stronger emotionally.

Aristotle identifies the “parts” of tragedy:

PLOT – Refers to the “organization of incidents”. It should imitate an action evoking pity and fear. The plot involves a change from bad towards good, or good towards bad. Complex plots have reversals and recognitions. These and suffering (or violence) are used to evoke the tragic emotions.

CHARACTER – The moral or ethical character of the agents. It is revealed when the agent makes moral choices. In a perfect tragedy, the character will support the plot, which means personal motivations and traits will somehow connect parts of the cause-and-effect chain of actions producing pity and fear.

And he pegged plot as the driver.

Story Structure

So, Aristotle gave us Beginning, Middle, End, which we still use, but over the years, various other folks have given us more detailed steps.

3-PART Story Structure – Setup, Confrontation, Resolution

4-PART – A little known fact about 3-Act stories: they’re actually kinda 4-Act stories.

5-PART – apparently the 3-Act stories were, way back when, actually done as 5-Acts.

But there are configurations specifically laid out for stories with 5 parts – or milestones – that goes something like…

1. Setup

2. Inciting Incident

3. 1st Slap

4. 2nd Slap

5. Climax

6-PART – Basically dividing each of the three acts in two. There’s a website about it.

And this is what the rest are all about – just putting finer detail on a 3-Act structure.

7-PART Story Structure – Brought to us by Dan Wells, who encourages everyone to start at the end. And to start using Pinch Points.


  1. The Hook. The protagonist’s current situation. Their state of being at the beginning should be in direct contrast to what it will be at the end of the story.
  2. Plot Point 1. Whether it’s a person, an idea, an inciting incident, or something else — there should be a “Call to Adventure” of sorts that sets the narrative and character development in motion.
  3. Pinch Point 1. Something goes wrong here that applies pressure to the main character, forcing them to step up and solve the problem.
  4. Midpoint. Turning Point where the main character changes from a passive force to an active force, meeting the problem head on.
  5. Pinch Point 2. Another blow to the protagonist — things go even more wonky than they did during the first pinch point. Maybe the passing of a mentor, the failure of a plan, the reveal of a traitor, and such.
  6. Plot Point 2. After the extreme wonkyness of Pinch Point 2, the protagonist learns they’ve actually had the key to solving the problem the entire time.
  7. Resolution. Story’s primary conflict is solved. And the protagonist goes through the final bit of development, transforming them from who they were at the start.

8-PART – Dan Harmon style.

9-PART – brought to us by David Siegel.

12-PART Story Structure – your basic Hero’s Journey by way of Vogler.

15-PART – this one comes to us via Blake Snyder of ‘Save the Cat’ fame.

17-PART – Hero’s Journey with more parts, laid out by Campbell.

But still working with the overall 3 Acts (4).

Each one of these breakdowns has something to say about storytelling, and each one is worth some study.

I’m partial to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat 15-beat approach.

So, the process starts with the script. Which has begun. (Updates to be ongoing.)

Project Snowcap (working title)


Delving into folklore and mythological stories of the elemental past to celebrate the essential forces abiding in the mysteries of the Turning of the Year, and the Return of the Sun.

The seed of the premise:

The Oak King and the Holly King. A sort of re-imagined North Pole.

Traditions: Keep them alive, or give them life?

Starring Dewey the elf.

Production Partners Needed for Animated Holiday Feature

You can be a Production Partner on this.

Because without your help, this fantasy tale, steeped in ancient traditions of the winter solstice, may have a woeful lack of names in its credits.

Partners: You will see your name in the credits of the finished film, and receive exclusive emailed updates. Plus some digital artwork from Fae Folk Gallery.

Another way to achieve Production Partner is by purchasing some Alpha Rockwell Gallery NFTs over at

Act now and you become one of the few to empower this unique holiday film.

181 Animation Challenge

Give it a shot, all you digital animators. Let’s see how many animated features we can make between July 4 and September 22, 2021.


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