“Storyboards are the first ‘look’ of the film. With them, you can just trace the drawing down the board, and ‘see’ the film.” –Ridley Scott, Director
Storyboards: Such a simple idea, but what a concept! For me, it’s the core of the visual presentation of a film. Without storyboards as a pre-visualization tool, I’m pretty much lost– being a visually oriented person. Sure, a shot list, script breakdown et al are key to getting things done, but the pre-production phase minus some form of storyboarding process…? I wither to think of it. Evidently, I’m not alone in this. Despite storyboards being generally thrown off the table by some heartily improvisational sorts like directors Werner Herzog and David Cronenberg, others such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam and of course, Ridley Scott, live by ’em. Yeah! I’m in good company.
In the spirit of enlightenment and inspiration, I thought I might add a little bit of Director Ridley Scott’s take on storyboards and their place in his filmmaking process. You can be sure storyboards played a big part in visualizing PROMETHEUS, and as much so as GLADIATOR and ALIEN, as well. Visual Effects Supervisor (Gladiator) John Nelson once told me over beers that Ridley, while on-set whips up these little, detailed “ridleygrams”, a sort of on the fly conceptualization drawing or short series of storyboards to describe a scene, some action or set-up while scouting a location. Great form of communication, and as John says, those little gems saved a lot of time and effort– everyone got on the same page, fast.
According to Ridley, whether you’re directing a $120 million motion picture, painting a painting, or even writing a blog post, we all face the same challenge: creating something from nothing. Ridley shares his insight; “Get rid of the white canvas. Get something right across the canvas. Otherwise you’re always looking at that area of white, which is like a blank sheet.” -M