Forsaken Short Film: Storyboarding

Written by James de Paula Hanika

Storyboarding is an important stage in pre-production. In fact, storyboarding is probably THE most important part of this initial creative stage. A script will indicate both staging and action. It describes the content of the scene, the characters in the scene, the dialogue, and the general atmosphere of the film. Storyboarding takes those elements and to them you add the audience’s point of view. Storyboarding allows you to plan each shot and each sequence in some detail. This stage is vital to work out camera angles and how to accomplish certain effects shots. For instance, the above mentioned car chase will require a ix of medium and close up shots, but the action and suspense of the sequence will require you to design the shots and how they go together. The action of the chase will be combined with the action between the characters, and the wrong edit will slow a scene down and render the sequence uninteresting.

Storyboarding does not require you to be a fabulous artist, only that you can sketch a reasonable image that your team can understand for the framing and angles required. A head can be an oval. A car can be a box. If you can find someone with the talent, a well drawn storyboard can be a vital addition. I began to storyboard the shots and to work out how we were going to film each one, what the treatment should be, and if there were any effects required. At times, you will have to go off and create a few test shots to make sure that a specific effect or staging will work, but this can be really good fun and put some energy into the project.

Storyboarding allows the low budget filmmaker the opportunity to mould the scenes to the restrictions in place, and to let creativity and ingenuity bridge the gap. I rewrote a number of scenes from the discussions we had over the staging of a scene during the storyboarding stage. This largely involved adding additional shots for more closeups or long shots. Sometimes, we added a very specific dolly shot to make a point or to get an important feel to the scene. Every shot is storyboarded. It is also a good place to start that important props list, location list and actors in a scene.

We started filming the opening scenes in April 2010. In the next article, we discuss cameras, dollies and the importance of a clapper.