01 October 2009

There Are Two Types of People, Tuco...

... those who storyboard, and those who don't.

I happen to be one of those who does.  I profoundly enjoy the experience, and I find it extremely useful in the script re-writing process - I've found things that don't work visually while boarding that I wouldn't find in the script otherwise.  Perhaps that's inexperience on my part, perhaps it's a clue that I think visually.

I believe the most important part of any film is preparation.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Get it on the page before you get it on the stage.

By training, I'm not a filmmaker.  I'm a classically trained music composer.  That would lead one to think that I believe in the sanctity of what's written on the page.

Couldn't be further from the truth - in every piece I wrote, I always made the performer bring their own spin to it.  I always said that the notes on the page were only 50% of the equation.  The performer needs to finish it.

Though I'm trained classically, I went to a jazz/new music school - Bezerklee.  In spite of my opinion of that institution, I am extraordinarily grateful for the jazz training they brought to my temperament and working methods.

I treat storyboards as a jazz chart.  They are useful tools to get back to when you get lost.  You need to know where to go, the verses, the A's, the B's, the bridges - but you need to be free enough (and confident enough) to improvise.  Not only with actors, but with shot selection, inserts - all aspects.

And that storyboard is sitting there, ready for you to come back to if you go too far astray.  Sometimes you have to stick to them - budget concerns, shooting times, etc.  But you can't be afraid of walking off the beaten path. 

For me, by sticking to a storyboard, treating it as an orchestral score, where every nuance must be as read, lessens the collaborative experience.  I have a credo when it comes to collaboration - if it comes out exactly the way I planned it, I'm not happy.  The people I collaborate with should improve my vision, challenge it, and by doing so, make the final product better.  If they don't, I should have just written a novel, done Flash animation, or stuffed the script in a pile.

The boards are there so that you, the director, can look at them, and get your vision for the film in visual form on paper.  So you can see the whole film before shooting.  Not only is that an incredible asset - it's an invaluable one.  But - as film crews shrink from orchestral size to jazz combo size,  our attitudes towards the absolute adherence to the sheet music of a storyboard should evolve.


Michael said...

I story boarded for the first time with my collaborator for our book the other day. You're dead on about the usefulness of it and I think it helped us to work together in a true 50/50 sense. Good stuff Tyler.

Tyler Weaver said...

Thanks, Mike. I usually storyboard a few things while I'm writing the script - helps a lot. Glad you enjoyed the article!

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