Storyboards are a luxury that a lot of independent films don’t have the budget for. Creatively, storyboards help the crew understand what the director wants and helps to inspire them visually before a single frame has been shot. By far the most important benefit to storyboarding a film is that it helps with the planning and prepping, which will save your production valuable time and money, which is always a good thing for your indie size budget.
I know what you’re thinking; “Storyboards are just not possible for most indie films.” Every situation is different, but storyboards are another tool and an important part of the film making process – it’s a step you won’t want to ignore.
Sometimes to save money. a films may only choose to storyboard the complicated scenes or the big sequences that require the most planning and have the highest risk of costing the film the most money if not prepped properly. It’s also helpful to storyboard any scenes that have special effects and stunts.
So what makes storyboards so important to the film making process?
A storyboard is one of the best ways to share and explain the director’s vision for the film. You know the old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words!” That has never been more true than with a storyboard.
I’m sure most of us have had experiences where we were trying to explain a story or concept to someone and you couldn’t seem to properly explain it in a way where they could understand the vision.
With a storyboard, you can show people exactly what your vision is and what it will look like. This makes it so much simpler for them to understand the concept.
A storyboard saves time and money
Storyboarding your film helps to set up a plan for production, including all the shots, the shot order, how they will cut together and how the will interact with the script. Storyboards also help speed up the process of creating a shot list.
Storyboards also help your editor to create a rough edit based off the storyboard. This will help make sure that the original concept and sequence are constant from pre-production into production and finally to post production.
I can’t stress it enough! Pre production is one of the most important steps in the film making process. Especially when budget and time is tight. Anything you can do to prep your film and make decisions months before you get on set will help keep your production running efficiently.
So now that you have a firm understanding of how storyboards can help, let’s take a look at the process.
So what is a storyboard
A storyboard is a series of drawings that can represent a key moment in the film. It is a graphic representation of the film, shot by shot, scene by scene. A storyboard is the first visualization of the screenplay.
It is made up of a number of squares with illustrations, photos or other images that represent each shot. It will contain notes and directions regarding the scene during the shot.
A storyboard artist is one of the first few people who are typically hired by a production. The storyboard artist will work closely with the with the director to construct the storyboards. As with most jobs on smaller independent productions the storyboard artist may also take on the role of concept artist and work with the production designer to create some concept artwork if necessary.
Everyone has their own style when creating a storyboard. There are some good printable storyboard templates that can be used or to help you get started to create your own template.
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As with any job in the film industry, there are certain standards when it comes to storyboarding. It may be helpful to check out this article on storyboard abbreviations on indiefilm.org.
You should use one square for each shot or scene that will take place. Normally the artist will sketch the scenes by hand, create them on a computer with the help of software or from photographs taken at the actual locations.
Add any special notes and lines from the script beneath each frame. The goal is to be able to read through the storyboard like a comic book and understand exactly what will happen.
The storyboard doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed. Just provide enough visual information to give the overall impression, such as what characters are in the scene and how the shot will be framed. The script and notes can fill in the rest of the details. On some storyboards is may also be helpful to make notes about transitions, movements, camera angles, movement and other details that will be helpful during production and post production.
If you would like to see some examples of storyboards from other famous movies be sure to check out this article here.