The thumbnail image is from a Facebook post I made on June 25th, 2014, giving people a small "taste" of my next animation. I still haven't completed it over a year later.
I think a lot of artists are really good at starting pieces but never finishing them. In college, I met many animators and filmmakers that would start a piece but never finish it. (I often heard stories about many in the animation department that have never finished a project.)
I've generally had two "rules" for myself about my projects. The first pertains to animations (which was what most of my work consisted of in middle and high school), and the second pertains to films I made in college.
Rule 1: Once I've actually started drawing for an animation, the project must be completed. Animation takes way too long to waste time not finishing projects.
Rule 2: For any film made as a school assignment, don't treat it like an assignment. It's still my personal project. If it needs time beyond the due date, put that time into it.
For rule 1, I've rarely broken it. I can actually count the number of animations that I've "started" but haven't finished (it's 11.) Most only had a script and voice acting completed. Only two have had animation time put in. One had been entirely animatic-ed out, but was just too big to tackle. And the other one had a single background drawn, but was scrapped because of circumstances out of my control (it was addressing a current event in my high school, but the circumstances had changed enough by the time I had finished writing and voicing the script that the message was no longer relevant. Also, as a bonus, it had the chance to get me in a lot of trouble with school officials).
Funnily enough, there are two more animations on this list that I didn't include... because I'm still working on them. They've been in the works for about 5-6 years... One I've actually animated more than half of, and it's been picked back up so many times and even completely restarted on more than one occasion. I set it down the first time because of circumstances changing again that made the script more offensive in a way that I did not originally intend. A few weeks later, I rewrote the script and started working again, this time doing all of the voice work, but then I set it down because I wanted to take a break and work on a different project for a little while (It was Funny School Things 2). Then it took some 3ish years to pick it back up. Right before starting real animation work on it, I realized that the old voice work just wasn't up to par anymore, and I adjusted a script a bit again and spent some time redoing all of the voicework. Then I finally started animating it again.
During that process, I set it down another three times in favor of smaller animated projects (these were "It's Just Science", "Brother & Sister: Short 2," and "Leursen in the Library"). I hadn't "finished" something in so long that I wanted to make the small pieces just to get to finish something again. I needed to make sure I still knew how to make animations!
I also had to set it down another two times because of school taking over my priorities. Most recently, my senior thesis film took priority (but more on my senior thesis in a moment).
I still HAVE to finish this animation. I won't let myself leave it in its half-finished state. It's gonna happen soon, because I'm working on it again, and I'm in the home stretch now. It'll likely be my next animated release. I hope.
I also mentioned a second animation that I'm "still working on." This one is a little more up in the air... It's somewhat related to previous animation I'm talking about, so I can't even start to touch it until I finish the current one. And I also redid all of the voicework for it and changed the script up a bit. Unfortunately, I had meant to take a bunch of reference photography of the location that animation was going to be set in, but the location has since been completely taken down and turned into a construction zone. So it's going to take me a lot more research and planning that I had originally intended.
With both projects, I also forgot to ever make storyboards the first time around, and with some 4-6 years passing by, I've definitely forgotten exactly what I had in mind. I think I've actually come up with better ideas this time around, but they're also harder to animate for that reason. Bleh.
ALSO also, I have at least two projects on my list that aren't "really" projects so I didn't count them. It's because they're both re-releases of older work, just touched up. I have better tech and better skills these days than I used to. First of all, I can make very beautiful 1080p, or even 4k up-rezzes of my older work now (because all the Flash stuff is vector based! Thank god) with newer programs like Swivel (amazing Flash-to-video conversion program by the way. If you work with Flash for animation, look this tool up!). And I also just have a better handle on editing and sound design now, so I want to touch that up too... And also my older work was 4:3, but if I uprez it, I'd like to make it 16:9, which in many cases means drawing more content into the frame. I actually have an odd habit of drawing more of a background than I need to, so sometimes I really don't have to do anything at all, but there are also plenty of times that I do still need to draw more. So these re-releases of older projects have often occupied my free time when I had enough of it to animate for a few hours or even a day, but not enough time to try and really work on a larger project.
Okay, let's move on to my second rule finally! This one has only really applied with school assignments, but a variation of it will continue on beyond my school days.
In my experience as a Film Major, many students treated their films like assignments. They'd rush their films the night before they were due, and often produce questionable results that were good enough to allow them to pass. But then, the students would just leave the project be. It's understandable when the entire process was rushed and the piece just didn't have enough reason to return to it, but there were many pieces that had a lot of potential that were unfortunately rushed through editing and post and it made them weaker than they had to be. Somehow, most students still left these projects be. This never made sense to me.
Why would I pour so much of my time and effort into a project, only to forget about it and leave it in some half-finished state?
So I came up with the idea of "finishing" a project to a point that worked for it to be turned in, but then always continuing work on the project beyond its due date for at least a month, until I really felt like I brought it to the best place it could be. Then, beyond that even, I would produce a proper DVD of the work and submit it to festivals, so I could really feel like it was finished. A DVD of it exists, and it's sent off to film festivals. It's done now.
Two of my film projects are currently unfinished. One of them is my senior thesis, for which I want to run a crowdfunding campaign to help me get it to the best state that it can be. It's already been longer than my other films before I've "completed" it, but it's probably the most ambitious thing I've done so far (with the largest amount of people, time, and money that I've ever poured into anything), so it only makes sense.
My other film project was actually one I shot during the Summer right before my senior thesis. It was Jess & Nate 2. I was about to start editing it, but I realized that I had to switch tracks to working on my senior thesis if I wanted to do it right, so I put that project on hold. I've been very slowly getting the wheels turning on it again though, and as soon as I get my senior thesis finished up, I plan on switching tracks back to Jess & Nate 2. I'm not sure yet if that'll be in tandem with an animated project, or if I'm going to have to choose between one or the other. We'll see when I get there.
So, here's a list of projects that I am currently working on that I hope will be released. Maybe by letting you all know that they exist, it'll push me to get things together on finishing them?
The Last Summer - Film Short (my senior thesis)
Jess & Nate 2 - Film Short (Production is done, but no post production yet)
Untitled Animated Short (Half finished, 5ish years in the making)
Another Untitled Animated Short related to the above (Much less work completed on it, but also about 5 years in the making. Also it's the most likely one to slip into the ether, as I've never actually drawn a single line of it yet, so it doesn't even break my first rule if it's never finished.)
Two Re-releases of older animations
I hope you will all be able to see every single one of these one day. Hopefully one day not too far away. I just better stop myself from working on any new projects for a good many months... Let's see if I can actually do that.