Where did this crazy idea originate?
Some midway through my second year course on script writing, my class was taught about the value of a consistent image, theme or object in a story. A single, at-first inconspicuous item can really own the ebb and flow of a narrative, and it can do so in numerous ways.
Think of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, the ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz, or the phrase 'Rosebud' in Citizen Kane. They all mean different things to their respective films, but they alter and often define the path of the characters, plot and staging. The same can be said from a visual standpoint. All you have to do it draw three circles, link them together, and you get the immortal, all-powerful deity known as Mickey Mouse. Draw a M with curved edges and you've got the king of junk food that you can't stop going to no matter how hard you try.
To be honest, I can't remember what actually inspired Hatman, I just remember that I really liked hats that day. Maybe it was just that in itself; top hats have seen something of an odd resurgence these days, and while I look like someone's weird uncle when I wear one, you can't deny their style. So you're probably wondering, Ella, how on earth did you manage to fit your weird interest in vintage hats to a story about a guy and a dog? I don't bloody remember, but I can try to retrace my year-old footprints and make an educated guess. Knowing myself as well as anyone can, I probably wanted the theme of hats to mean something to the protagonist Felix, and it linked back to the theme of family. I've always been fascinated with the notion of having a large, eccentric family, and even more so by stories that revolve around them. Felix's family arguably play a small role onscreen, but their impact on the story is immense and without giving anything away, they are just as important as Felix himself.
Trilby, the puppy that features in the short, arguably becomes a part of Felix's family, to such an extent that on the first read, a few people interpreted Trilby as being a figment of Felix's imagination, or a metaphor for his love of his family. I was taken aback by these interpretations, because I totally, without a doubt, definitely planned that from the beginning. I swear. Regardless, Trilby is a bit of a love letter to the many animal-centred films I grew up with, and remember fondly. Plus, everyone loves dogs, don't they?
One aspect I am sure about is my inspirations for the setting. I love settings that blend modern technology with the dated quirks of centuries gone. I love steampunk even more, and I am constantly searching for media that feature it's industrial buzz. The Professor Layton series have given me years of fun (as well as occasional annoyance thanks to the maths puzzles), and Felix's design very much reflects that. Hatman's setting might confuse a few people, but I hope it's combination of phone, top hats and Victorian architecture please fellow admirers of the steampunk and industrial aesthetic. Morgan the shop owner's gothic outfit and shop have Tim Burton and Charles Dickens to blame.
All in all, the story of Hatman is many things, but coherent isn't one of them. It is a story of family, legacy and a dog; a rather cute dog.