WARNING: This blog will not give you the ability to draw, Neil Buchanan-esq magic will not flow through your finger tips to your HB pencil after reading this – SORRY! Hopefully what this blog will do is to draw your attention (see what I did there) to the benefits of storyboarding, regardless of ability or confidence.
1. Storyboarding makes you concentrate on the visuals.
“But film is a predominately a visual medium so aren’t I doing that already?” I hear you ask. No, you may not, or at least, not as much as you think you are. It’s exactly because film relies so heavily on visuals that you should do all you can to focus your attention on it. Storyboarding shows you how a film flows from shot to shot.
2. It can help Cinematographer/Director relationships
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic DOPs but none of them (and I think they’d agree with me) are mind readers. Don’t assume your DOP will just pluck the shots out of your head. Remember that they are bringing a lot of creativity to the set too and they may see the scene and/or shot in a slightly different way to you; don’t make your jobs more difficult than it already is. Storyboards can make sure you’re on the same page and help start some stimulating discussions about how to shoot a scene.
3. Storyboards can give you confidence
The same goes for any amount of planning you put into your film. As soon as I was happy with the script, I started storyboarding my film Time Lapse. I did it because I wanted people to see what I saw when they thought about the film. It gave me confidence and more importantly, it showed people I had put the time in, I was willing to agonise over the visuals.
It took me 3 months and over 100 panels but it was worth it, the whole thing was incredibly empowering. Storyboarding made me understand my film inside and out and I was confident. If you’re confident about you’re work, other people are willing to be confident about you, and that can get you a long way!
4. Storyboards highlight mistakes
As soon as I finished my 100 panels I was able to share my vision with the DOP, Make Up Artist, Costume Designer and with it there was a lot of discussion about which shots/scenes could be improved or altered. The ink had dried but the storyboards were forever changing; it was only from seeing it before shooting it I could save myself a MASSIVE headache and improve my film before we even picked up a camera. This brings me on to my final point.
5. Be prepared for change
You can imagine after 3 months of hand drawing each character, every background and photoshopping each panel, I was very precious over my work. I soon realised however that If I wasn’t adaptable, all of the hard work spent would be wasted because I’d be making the process about me and not about making a good film. Film is a very organic process; remember, you’re not the Messiah, you’re a very naughty boy (Monty Python). And by that I mean remember you’re constantly learning and your storyboard is just a step along the way, not the destination itself. Change your storyboard where possible because it will develop in some surprising ways if you keep your mind open…especially to criticism.