How to storyboard a short film.
I have started to storyboard my short film. I need to get a move on, I hope to start filming in as a little as a month. The more prep I do the easier the shoot with be, the more smoothly it will go and the less chance I have of messing up.
Storyboards are used in filmmaking, animations and theatre to help visualise a scene taking place. Storyboards are like the comic book version of the film, using them can help you see any problems that may occur during filming.
Storyboards show various camera angles that would be used on screen – close ups, mid shots, establishing shots etc. A white arrow is used to show a camera movement – zoom, pan, dolly etc. A black arrow is used to show an on screen movement such as a character walking off screen.
- White arrows – camera movement
- Black arrows – on screen/character movement
A lot of new filmmakers worry about their drawing skills.
It can look impressive to have well drawn storyboards (if only to show off with) but for practical purposes it doesn’t matter how good your drawings look. Stickmen still do the job.
When I made student films I storyboarded every single shot in the film. I was not great with communicating what I wanted with the cast and crew so I relied on storyboards. In the past I was mostly a one man crew, I felt a lack of experimentation during filming, I was afraid to mess up since I only had one chance.
These days I still have one chance but I am more confident. I am going to try and step away from storyboarding, be more relaxed, open to changes and spend more time with my actors.
I am only storyboarding special effects and complex transitions for my short film. I have also done a few location and character sketches since I will likely be art designer too. You don’t have to storyboard every scene in your film.
Some directors choose not to storyboard at all, they believe it stifles creativity during filming. Werner Herzog and David Cronenberg refuse storyboard. Directors such as the Coen brothers and Ben wheatley storyboard all of their films by the shot.
- Not every film is storyboarded
- Special effects and stunts are more likely to be storyboarded
I have made a video explaining how to storyboard a short film that can be watched on Vimeo. Let me know if it is OK this is my first filmmaking video and if wanted I will create more.
How to storyboard a short film video
It took some time to create the short film storyboard templates. I have made them downloadable via the resource library. Next time you are storyboarding you can download the templates here –