Briefly, the concept of Magic Realism has to do with the concept of "heightened reality" or the addition of another dimension of reality through a symbolic or metaphoric structure. It gives us a new way of preceiving the world, as if through a child looking at the world for the first time. The term is a derivation of "lo real maravilloso" which means literally, "The Marvelous Reality."


 - Bruce Taylor

Magical Realism will be used to enhance the sense of magic experienced by Ying Ying as she comes to experience and explore the world of the dog. In this concept art, the park takes on an almost fairy tale feel through the colour palette and the use of lighting. The addition of “floating elements” (spores, insects) adds to the sense of otherworldliness.

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"To live with a dog is to be constantly reminded of the far-off existence of a different world". Here Ying Ying stands at the doorway to Max's world.

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Set design – an old washed up shipwreck forms the ideal refuge for Ying Ying’s daughter, Ka-ching.

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“From this distance you looked like a wolf standing firmly in the wild, proudly part of it. Had I actually come close to seeing your real self? Caught a glimpse of you before domestication?”​​ Starting With Max by Ying Ying

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Ka-ching reads a bed-time story to Max. The story happens to tell of an imaginary first encounter between human and dog.

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In the book Starting With Max, Ying Ying describes how on hearing it was Max’s last day at the RSPCA shelter, she imagined hearing the Bell of Doom ringing and seeing him being lead down to the “Gate of Death”. This is another example of how we will use Magical Realism throughout the film – putting us inside the head of our main character as we bring her imagination to life.

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Exploring the idea of using the film’s aspect ratio (the black bars) to create the impression of entering a new world.


As Ying Ying first enters the world of Max, the bars pull apart and become smaller to create a more immersive experience for the audience and also symbolize a change in perception, a sense of freedom – an expansion of her horizons.

"Through my dog I have undergone an amazing transformation. I now find myself opening new windows that reveal life and all its beautiful mysteries".


Starting With Max by Ying Ying