Sunday, February 28, 2016

How I Made a Movie (Part 2 of ?): Wait, does directing mean I can make storyboards?


Previously on Part 1....
I had written a script for another short film. (watch it here)
Our director dropped out
We had no options
So I had to direct.

I had no idea what directing a film meant. But once I committed to it in my head, I wasn't going to back out. Not knowing something had never stopped me before and it wouldn't stop me again. There was a right way to do this. Hopefully. I made a list in my head of the things I needed.

Casting confirmations
Shot List
Shooting Schedules
Storyboards (!!!)

I was pretty excited about the last one and it was one of the major reasons why I decided to direct the short. After we finalized the script, which was done before I was ever marked as director, I started creating storyboards. This was the fun part.

Basically, I read the script and thought about what I would want the film to look like in my head. It sounds simple enough and it kind of is, but then you realize that movies and shorts have a lot of different frames per script page. Our script was 13 pages and I had about 40 storyboards total, which was not a number I thought I would end up with.

Things I had to keep in mind while making the storyboard was practicality. Nick had a friend who was a camera operator who committed to helping us and he also had a friend who might have been able to have helped with his camera. I also had to keep in mind that this was a comedic script and timing was very important. While it make for more cuts between scenes and lines than I would've liked to have drawn, it was important to make sure I had that in mind while shooting the film.

Quick aside: This made me watch 30 Rock and the show Wilfred semi-nonstop as an excuse to pay attention to how the comedies were directed. Did I learn anything from doing that? Maybe. Did I laugh a whole bunch? Hell yes.

I broke down the script into three acts and created the storyboards. However there was a slight hangup. Here is one of my attempts.

Can you tell what's going on?

Yeah, I could barely tell either.

While that's not an issue - I did a little bit of research on storyboarding and the consensus was 'everyone does it differently. Some are legible, some are beautiful, and some are literally scribbles only the director a can decipher', I realized two things.

1) This is way too small. Even for me.
2) If I were to try to explain my thinking (difficult given my lack of complete knowledge) to my camera operator(s), having a near-illegible storyboard wouldn't help anyone.
Also -

Did I mention I took a storyboarding class in college? I didn't? Oh. Well. I don't know if I had some knowledge applied to what I eventually did, but I'm sure whether it was conscious or not, it helped.
Anyway. The little research I did helped in making some technical markings on my storyboard frames to denote camera movement. Here is where I ended up.



You can see these are not only larger, but also cleaner in terms of being darker, so they were easy to see and I started to mark movement and other specifics with my red pen, which made it much easier to follow.

Having a storyboard was hugely helpful. Seeing the layout of the movie all at once allowed me to understand what felt repetitive, how I could vary frames, and how the camera should be placed. By this point, we had our cast, we had some shooting days, and we had people involved. Whether I was ready (mentally or otherwise) or not, this thing had to happen. The storyboards gave me some relief but I knew that there was SO much I didn't know.

Day 1 of shooting began....
(Part 3 coming soon)