Current projectsPosted by firstname.lastname@example.org Sat, December 03, 2016 14:53:27Storyboarding
First thing I should say before storyboarding anything.
Do you care enough about the subject matter to do it?
If you are NOT EMOTIONALLY INVESTED in the material, forget it. All directing is artistic vision/emotionally meaningful characters/gut passion. It is ethereal. In flux. Storyboarding begins to draw from this creative pool to turn words into moving images; storytelling your way. It is sublime, certainly for the best directors; they LOVE IT. It is exciting - like falling in love! - each time you come to a new project. As you dig deep into the flesh of your story, you hopefully will uncover your distinctive storytelling language using the camera as cipher.
For me, I storyboard because the story demands it. If it does not, I probably should drop the project. I am its servant for the period of the production. My storyboard displaces the real world. Intense, involving, invading my stream of conciousness and day to day life. If you have feelings like this then trust me you will make something to be proud of.
What is it?
An example is shown above, which I will discuss in more detail later.
It is the closest I'll ever get to being a comic book artist! I grew up on Steve Ditko and Stan Lee and spent my formative years leafing though piles of Marvel back issues.
A storyboard is a series of small drawings which describe the action of a story. As a director, the storyboard is an essential tool which enables you to take 2D story and begin shaping it in the real world.
Storyboarding is also a useful way to learn how to tell stories.
Not all directors use it to the same extent. Those who appear not to prefer a different style of directing, for example, directors like Wernor Herzog are renowned for their use of intuition on-set with actors. These guys have a lot of experience and storyboard in their head as they go along, for sure!
One way or another the storyboard is here to stay, so, if you are a budding director, get to it!
For those who are less experienced it is better to start with a one minute story to practice storyboarding. Be willing to leave it for day or two before going back to it. It is like shuffling cards. New cards appear. The old hand is discarded. Gradually, an efficient storyboard will appear which best shapes your story.
The storyboard I published in this blog is the opening sequence of my current short film project Invisible. It is about Homeless Man and Street Magician and their strange, surreal relationship, which unfolds in a world where rubbish and those who live among it are all too easily discarded.
I begin with images of their legs, as Homeless Man (HM) and Street Magician (SM) are contrasted: HM is plodding along pushing his laden shopping trolley and SM's body is animated as she performs her street show. Towards the end of this sequence, we see their relationship is converging. Both are in search of sustenance. HM from the nearby rubbish bin, SM as she peers inside her top hat looking for donations.
With any storyboard, start with the few pristine images. Others that appear later can serve to link the action to keep the story moving forward.
With my short film Invisible pristine images were of HM and SM and their personal connection with their bin and top hat, respectively.
Develop your images keeping in mind this rule: meaningfully connected action and reaction (not necessarily linear) makes a good story grow. Your storyboard should get artistically satisfying as you make adjustments between images.
I chose a closeup of HMs hand wiping his hungry mouth, and a wide shot of the SM magic show, and an emotional reaction by SM as her top hat is clumsily kicked over by a passer-by. This way the audience comes to identify with what is important to each character.
As you become more proficient you can introduce movement into your storyboarding.
Arrows can show direction of motion. An arrow can either follow the audience's gaze as the camera (which is your tool of translation, your chisel to stone) moves across the image, or it can indicate movement within the drawing of characters and objects.Self Help Rules
These are the basic requirements.
1. A decent story! A storyboard can enhance a rubbish story but, in the final analysis, your audience will know something isn't working. A meaningful connection between action and reaction is key.
In my working example for Invisible, Street Magician reacts to a passer-by who kicks over her top hat, which leads her to pick it up and look sadly inside to find it empty, just as Homeless Man finds his bin empty, too.
2. Locations. Vital. Really, you cannot storyboard properly until you know the limits of space and depth, such as the arrangement of corridors and doorways and walls. This is the world you are going to cram your story inside. Hopefully the location will inspire your storyboard to maximize the drama, while exploring its subtext and mood.
3. Know your characters in terms of emotion and motivation. How you choose to place a character can be more informative than their dialogue. After all, this is primarily a visual medium.
4. Props are unsung heroes. They get a bit neglected. I am always looking for unexpected ways to recruit these tidbits on-set. Do not get me wrong. Props are used, sometimes brilliantly. I just do not think they have been fully explored in film.
5. You should have a keen sense of the unitary whole of your story, which you are reverse engineering through storyboarding.
You are chopping the whole up into manageable pieces, which means you as director have control over exactly how each piece (image) will look. A jigsaw piece is one image in your storyboard, and you will have so many choices to make in terms of its size and shape, focus and emphasis, format and content, that it will seem daunting.
So - take your time.
Do not try to storyboard the whole story at once. You need breaks. Rest. Time to sleep on it.
Storyboarding is an art form. Treat it with respect.
6. At some stage in your storyboarding your unconscious will take over.
I have woken up often in the middle of the night suddenly knowing what I must do in order to solve a storyboard block. A stilted moment of action which does not quite flow into the next image. New images and ways of crafting your jigsaw puzzle can arrive even while taking a shower! As your subconscious pours over your storyboard, which is a highly rewarding experience, it harmonizes your story. In surprising ways the jigsaw pieces move and accommodate, switch and swap, until they feel just right.
At this stage your script is becoming "real"!
8. It goes without saying, as with all art, rework your storyboard. The first version is
never right.Do you have a decent storyboard?
How will you know?
Instinct. You are a creative artist.
Your story should leap out from the first image. Then in every subsequent frame something important should demonstrate the theme, highlight the story's character, and show meaningful action, etc. It should startle you sometimes, and be visually clear so that you can now see the movie in your head.
Individual shots and camera positions will stop being vague. They will suddenly become naturally fixed. The best directors want one camera position for the shot as they believe this is the best way for their story to be told. Now what?
Having a decent storyboard under your belt is a powerful calling card.
You can get a creative team together, as they will hopefully be inspired to get involved.
Creative types know something good when it comes along. Your passion and inspiration can be conveyed far more convincingly with a good storyboard, which means you have more chance of success!
Armed with your storyboard, the script, and a bit of footage, you can try and get investment, perhaps a crowdfunding campaign off the ground, or go straight to producers who make this type of film.Downside
1.You need to be a decent drawer. I am not! My Director of Photography has to sit me down to go through my storyboard! A very important and professional approach to filmmaking anyway, so do not worry if you find yourself explaining your scrawled images to others.
2. Storyboarding is a valid learning tool. It will make you a better director so always try to do your best. If you are lucky enough to have a real budget then of course you can employ a professional storyboard artist.
3. Keep flexible. Once you get on-set things can and should change. A storyboard is your friend. Do not make it your inflexible enemy. Sticking to something that clearly is causing a lot of headaches should be avoided, unless you are 100 percent sure the sacrifice will be worth it. Events such as unpredictable weather can offer new ways of seeing the story. A good storyboard can adapt.
I hope this short tour of the storyboard will help in your directing film.
Current projectsPosted by email@example.com Wed, November 09, 2016 09:24:05
worked on film sets over the last three years and still find it incredibly
exciting, usually because I have been involved in the preparation. I can share
some thoughts in four areas: Intensity, Imagined Space, Pitfalls, Psychology.
You have been writing, producing and imagining
for a while and by the time you reach the
film set, you will be brimming with creativity, which will spill over into the creative space of others.
The experience is intense and everyone has something to
contribute, so keep listening, but stay with your vision.
film set is like a library, which intermittently
unleashes its story!
interrupted by intermittent noise. Sudden chases. Woodland trysts.
On average, I try to shoot approximately three pages a day and no matter what is written on the page, you finally get to
realize that intensity equals a
collision of action, drama and emotion on-set, oftentimes mirrored off-set. By the same token, sometimes drama that happens off-set, fuels what happens on-set.
is going on: DP going through his divorce, leading male's bust-up with the
love-of-his-life, may yet provide more grist to the mill. Actors draw on their
life experience; DPs have technical skills combined with creative emotions too.
At its best, this intensity can feel like a very controlled accident, with just
enough uncertainty to allow spontaneity to reveal a deeper truth. Intensity
First and foremost, as in my case, Directors use their imaginations, taking written information and just shoving it into 3D, but there are many variable that need to be thought about.
Here is a list of crucial elements for this process.
happened before this scene?
Where is this scene going in terms of emotion and action?
Beginning, middle and end of the scene.
arc in scene.
Contrast with other scenes.
Heightened use of props.
Blocking actions to harmonize the story with the set. Is this
the best environment for this scene?
Guerilla-style. You have no idea how you will shoot it till you get there.
Sometimes this is best of all, especially if you have never visited the
Imagined Space is a shifting landscape, with the story at times held
captive and at other times, freefloating. When it floats free, it means you have not
visualized it on the set satisfactorily. It is looking for its home! A place
where the drama can best be conveyed.
In my last short film"Boxed In", I
had a key scene midway through the script, which was freefloating. Two charaters finally come
together in strange circumstances. After a few days at the location, I realized
I needed to adapt the scene to another set, the kitchen, as the planned location did not make the scene sparkle with truth.
the shots became clearer, sharper and
greater opportunities arose, which maximized the
environment, enhanced the drama and
created symbolism in the scene. By symbolism, I mean using less obvious images
to represent a deeper truth. In my scene, I managed to make a character look as
if she actually appeared magically from an old box.
Imagined Space (of drama) is for me, intoxicating. It is the
key moment between imagination and´film reality´ when your vision takes
shape. It requires adaptability as discussed and also a constant questioning: What am I trying to say? Why this way?
Why not stage it that way? I guess when you have satisfactorily answered these
questions, the scene is probably in
Practical stuff can clutter your Imagine Space.
Cables in the background. A dust sheet edge in the frame. Clutter can be left
behind as well. So, make a thorough technical
checklist of what is required to shoot on the set. Batteries get forgotten,
beware! Where is the nearest store if you have to buy provisions in
emergencies. Also, check that all your gear actually works. Clutter gets underfoot. I
have tripped on cables. I have blown lighting equipment. I have learnt to stay
still on set. Find the best vantage point, if you have a monitor, make it your nest and stay put.
A director has to be mindful that a film set is a controlled
collision of crew and actors, psychology will get in the
way and a director has to
be mindful of this.
should know his team as well as himself, and be aware that shooting is
tiring and stressful and at
times you will need to adapt.
people a break. Listen to a concern. Egos need to be massaged, yours as well!
people hate each other. Love affairs blossom. Whatever is going on, you should
be right there asking the question, "are we going to get the
coverage I need today? Is this going to enhance
or jeopordize all of our investment?" It
might be necessary to have quiet words with people, often times it make all
the difference. Actors get lost in their roles, so they forget other factors, which they need
creatives may feel no one listens to them. Maybe you have made a mistake and it needs pointing out??
Take time to provide what you think is needed to keep the wheels of the project turning. Personally, I think this is the
hardest part of directing.
Remember, you are never too old to learn
something new. Filmmaking is university for life, with other young-minded
creative students who are a bit crazy, passionate and childlike, so be open to
your education and above all, see your mistakes as
gifts, which will allow your
wisdom to grow.
About Steve Hunyi
Steve has several
screenplays listed on his website www.voodooheartproductions.com
He has been making
short films for two years and is currently in postproduction on his latest
short shot, in June 2016.
begin on his trilogy of shorts this coming Autumn. Steve's aim is to continue writing, and to start
working on his feature film projects after gaining experience of directing and
Current projectsPosted by firstname.lastname@example.org Thu, October 20, 2016 22:28:37
I am excited to say the end is in sight. Just sfx.
Here is the movie poster for those who are interested. A mysterious location where a woman in white kneels.
A mystery. A thriller. A ghost story. A drama. "Boxed In" has it all!
Current projectsPosted by email@example.com Sun, October 09, 2016 13:59:25
I watched Peeping Tom again!
Thanks Mr Scorsese for rediscovering this British 1960 landmark film, which had been consigned to the garbage heap due to the condemnation of critics.
Watching this film is a master class. Where to begin?
An excellent original script by Leo Marks. Michael Powell directing at the height of his prowess, though ironically this film ruined his career, make it a blissfully lurid technicolor treat, a psychological foray into 1960s London just before the swinging 60s arrived. Layered in repression and fear of sex against the grim backdrop of postwar London, it literally peels away the grimy overcoat of the city to reveal its underbelly. To peek inside the mind of Mark, a serial killer who films his victims, is a remarkable study of voyeurism which clearly unsettled the critics for its docu-style realism. The film was overshadowed by Psycho which came out in the same year. Do not be fooled. Peeping Tom is every bit as good. British through and through, subtler and more complex psychologically, Psycho reeks of Pax America.
Creepy lead role of Mark is played brilliantly by actor Carl Boehm while the pseudo-love-interest is filled by the quintessentially prudish but inquisitive Anna Massey. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the film is its exploration of the nature of film itself and how it encourages us all into voyeurism. Mark makes us share in his Modus Operandi: he films his victims with his camera as he sets his lethal knife-tripod upon them. Thus, he films his victim´s terror at their moment of death, and even more heinous his mirror- mounted camera allows his victims to share in their experience!
A devilishly smart scene is staged on the film-set where Mark works as an Assistant Cameraman. He lures a B-move starlet played flirtatiously by Moira Shearer, and as she dances her way through their date in the silent film studio, Mark stages her to her death. Pure cinematic irony, and the best example I know. She has no clue what fate will befall her, but we do. And we want to know how! As we watch her dancing coquettishly with the painfully shy Mark, slowly but surely her confidence gives way to pure terror as he sets the scene to murder her.
I cannot praise this marvellous British movie enough. It surely belongs in the top ten of any serious movie buffs canon.
Current projectsPosted by firstname.lastname@example.org Sat, October 01, 2016 19:15:12
Final stages of postproduction on "Boxed In". We have a great poster, logo and a wonderful 30 minute short film.
For those who are interested, I have uploaded a synopsis of the story Boxed In.
My greatest experience working on film has to be so far choreographing the woodland labyrinth sequence in Boxed In. It was spontaneous and utilized the location to its full potential.
My favourite director - this week "David Lynch".
Watching "Mulholland Drive" is such a marvelous way to lose a day. Gorgeous imagery which leads you into layered nuances, peeling off the sheen of beauty overlying the rotten heart and bitter disappointment of the Hollywood film industry.
The film´s nonlinear narrative has been much discussed and analyzed. Essentially it can be read as an exploration of Diane´s (lead female played by Naomi Watts) mental world, from her sexually abused childhood which ruined her innocence to her frustrated wish fulfilment to become a film star. Her aunt represents her innocence, and the character Rita represents her dark alter ego, the fellow actor Camille. Camille gets the film role which Diane covets, so Diane hires a hitman to kill her.
Diane´s story is essentially a dream about events revolving around a mysterious blue box and key, the macguffin of the tale. When she finds the key to open the blue box this will indicate that Camille has indeed been murdered by the hitman. The dream-film narrative unravels Diane´s guilt, her love of Camille, (as she had a relationship with her), and her subsequent betrayal and revenge.
The wakeful part of the film reveals Diane´s despair when she discovers that Camille has left her for the director of the film; Diane kills herself.
One key scene - which is confusing - is Twinkie´s bar, where Diane meets a man called Dan who was present at the time when she contracted the hitman. The sequence in the bar with Dan and his subsequent discovery of the monster lurking behind the bar (which kills him) represents Diane´s awareness of her guilt. The monster lurking behind Twinkie´s is Diane´s repressed dark side set murderously free.
It is art blended as film synched to perfection. Not your average popcorn fare granted, but this is the stuff which sinks into your subconscious and hooks you on so many levels.