We just wrapped up storyboadring The Dragon Wall this past Thursday, but I realized as I sat down to write this blog, some of you (and when I say “you”, I mean you, Mom, because you’re probably the only one reading this blog) might not really know what storyboarding means.
Storyboarding was originally brought into use back in the 1930’s by Disney to layout their animated movies. It has since become a fairly regular practice in film, both animated and live action, as a practice of visually organizing a script before shooting the film.
When storyboarding a script, illustrations are used to break down each shot of the film. Camera angles and Points of View are determined and blocked for each scene. Types of shots (dolly, hand held, crane, etc) are determined as well as whether the shot is a close up, medium, or wide view. It’s a long process, even for a short film, but well worth the time in terms of organization. By laying out every shot in every scene, production moves much more quickly because everyone on the crew can be on the same page and know what to expect for each day of shooting. Especially for a small project like ours, with a limited budget, shooting on a tight schedule, storyboarding is key in keeping us on task and schedule. We simply can’t afford not to know exactly what each shot looks like well before the day of shooting. Well laid plans and all that jazz…
What this means and looks like for Brandon and me is a lot of late nights acting out scenes and trying to demonstrate our thoughts and visions to our partner. The visualizing of the scene is then usually in the form of both of us leaning back in our chairs, faces toward the ceiling, eyes closed, and hands behind our heads. I have not doubt anyone watching us work through this process is now convinced we are totally off our rockers. Not that anyone needed anymore convincing.
Oh, and it also means lots, and lots, lots of Mountain Dew, Skittles, and Starburst. Yes, I feel like I’m twelve again, but it, surprisingly, works.
Storyboarding, for me at least, has also been lots and lots of fun. I know I mentioned it in a previous blog as being really “cool”, but it is, at least, for me. Partly, I think, because it’s an extension of telling the story I wrote. It’s another vehicle for me to explain these characters, plot, and adventure. But, it’s also some affirmation of my own vision of the short story. It’s an awesome experience for me as writer to have someone else take my words and sketch them out onto paper; to explain their own perception of the words on the page. That to me is one of the greatest rewards of being a writer. In other words, I know what I mean to say when I write a story, but for someone to take that story and illustrate it back to me, is total validation as a writer.
So, there are a lot of benefits to laying out the story in this illustrated fashion in terms of organization and planning, but as we wrapped up this process one benefit that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere on the interwebs came to me.
Momentum. That continued rolling of excitement that just by drawing simple sketches of our film builds. It’s a tremendous effect just this simple process has had, in my opinion, on moving this film forward.
I think it’s apparent most in the effect it has on my sleeping the nights we’ve finished a storyboarding session, when I lay awake in bed running through the script, scene by scene, shot by shot, that we just laid out into the early hours of the morning.
Then again, it could just be the Mountain Dew.
Nah, I’m sticking with excitement.