Storyboarding my short film

 
how to storyboard a short film storyboarding a student film
 

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 to 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. L

How to storyboard a short film video

I also created the E-book ‘Find Work In Film’ which explains step-by-step how to find and apply to film industry jobs.

It took some time to create the short film storyboard templates. So I have made them downloadable so you can use them too. Next time you are storyboarding you can download the templates here –

How to Line a Film Script

This is something I learnt in my days of Script Supervision – how to line a film script.

It is a technique to show visually what coverage has been shot for each scene. One day you may find yourself on a film set and see someone drawing wiggly lines on a script, no need to be confused it’s a very simple system that has been used in filmmaking since screenwriting began.

To make things easier I have also made a video here

Why should I know how to line a film script?

Because it is easy! If you’re a Screenwriter, Script Supervisor, Director, Editor or Producer you should know this.  Some directors like to line their script during filming so that they know what shots they have filmed in each scene (Ridley Scott does). You don’t need to use it as a director but some directors do like to line their scripts up during filming.

So what do these lines on film scripts mean?

A Straight Perpendicular line on a film script means that coverage for the action it crosses has been shot. That could mean either action or dialogue has been captured on screen. The line begins at the start of a shot and the line ends when the shot ends. In the script example below we see a conversation between Matt and John.

The-marked-up-script-example.jpg

At the top of each line the slate number and the amount of takes are written down. The first line above is slate 23, there were 5 takes for this slate. It is a Close Up of John so the line goes straight through John’s dialogue.

What is the significance of a wiggly line?

Wiggly lines on film scripts indicate action that has been recorded off camera. So in the example above the first line has a wiggly line on Matt’s dialogue because it is a close up of John and only he appeared on camera. The second line is Matt’s close up and so there is a wiggly line through John’s dialogue. These days Lined scripts can also be carried out in digital format. See an example below of a digital lined film script. In this example the green lines are being used to indicate sound files to the editor. The sound files 080 and 009 are wildtracks of the location.

How do lined scripts help the director?

It is hard to remember during a long day on set what you have covered. I have had directors before stand up and announce to the crew that we have finished filming the scene. Only for the Script Supervisor to quickly prompt them that a piece of dialogue has no coverage on camera (we know this because only wiggly lines pass through that dialogue)

If a straight line is not covering a piece of dialogue then you have no coverage of this dialogue on camera. The lines on a script are just a visual way of letting you know what coverage you have per scene.

How do lined scripts help the editor?

The lined script is used by the film editor as a reference to what coverage was shot and to changes made to the script during production. Lined scripts give editors a quick view of all available coverage at a glance, so that he or she can make quick editing decisions without having to sort through all the footage repeatedly.

The Script Supervisor at the end of every day will pass on a Marked Up Script to the editor containing the lined script and any changes to dialogue or action.  I have had editors shun the lined script, then beg to see it when a tough edit comes along, it is an easy visual way of getting your head around a scene and what shots are available for the cut.

Does that sum it up?

I hope this sums up the basis of lined screenplays and now you know how to line a film script. Any questions please ask below. There is hardly any writing on this online but I guarantee you will start to see people drawing wiggly lines on scripts now that you know this. 

Notes

  • You draw your lines left to right in shooting order.

  • Red is the standard colour used for a lined script

  • Sometimes multiply colours are used to indicate different shots i.e. –blue ink for single shots, green ink for cutaways, wild tracks taken by sound etc

  • If a shot continues to another page an arrow is placed below the line and continues onto the next page.

  • Lined scripts are also called Marked Up Scripts or MUS.

If you are interested in learning more about film continuity I highly recommend the book Script Supervising and Film Continuity by Pat P. Miller - Find Here

I have also written an E-book called ‘ Find Work In Film’ which shows you step by step details on how to work in the Film Industry - Find Here

You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms

5 of the best CV Writing Tips for Filmmakers

CV writing and resume tips for filmmakers

I have worked on a lot of film sets. It even got the point where I would send a CV off for a job and I could pretty much guarantee I would be working on that film.

In time credits build up, people recommend you, finding work on film sets is not impossible.

have had a look at some CVs student filmmakers are sending off to film jobs recently. I always got compliments on my own CV when I worked in film from producers. I have worked on 10 feature films and 40 or so other types of film productions by now, so I think it is justifiable to say that I know what I’m doing when it comes to CV writing for filmmakers. 

And you can download my own CV below to see what I am doing that has been working so well for me. I also have a 1-1 filmmaker CV design service you can read more about here. 

I also created the E-book 'Find Work In Film' which goes into detail on how to find and apply to film jobs - More Info Here

1. Make it clear what you do and what job you want

At the top of your CV have your name in bold followed by what your job title is. Make this text big. If you’re after a runner job but don’t have runner experience still put the job title 'Runner' at the top of your CV.      

If a producer is looking at 20 CVs your CV needs to stand out so make them remember your name and know what job you are applying for.

A lot of people send CVs off and don’t make it obvious what job they are looking for. This is the biggest mistake you can make on your filmmaker CV. 

2.  Don’t make it wordy. a very short biography is best

Don’t make your CV wordy, the producer needs to be able to scan your CV and get the jist within 10 seconds. I have three sentences at the top of my script supervisor CV that says it all.

My biography says what I have done, what I do and what type of person I am. I wouldn’t include more than a short paragraph about you. If you’re applying for your first film job then say you’re looking for a runner or for an assistant position (even if you don’t have experience yet). Say that you have experience on student films and are passionate and want to learn more. If you are a runner with a car you’ll probably get the job. 

3. Keep everything relevant at the top of your CV

In this business your work at the supermarket is not so relevant. Put you film work at the top of your CV. Put any film experience you have at the top of your CV even student films, keep all other jobs right at the bottom. I have never put any normal jobs on my film CV- after all why would my job as a waitress convince a producer to hire me as a script supervisor. Keep your CV relevant as much as you can.

4. List and bullet point all credits

Keep your CV streamline and clear. Lists and bullet points are great for this. List all the film jobs you have done going down the page with most recent at the top. I have a feature film list, short film list and television list on my CV. If you’re new to film work, then list any relevant jobs at the top. If you’re after a runner job then put any runner jobs you’ve done at the top of the CV (even if it was just that one short film you helped out on in University – include that, put it right at the top). 

I include the title of the film, the date of production, director and producer names, production company and any famous people I have worked with.  Not everyone will put this information down but you need to make yourself look good. I heard that Quentin Tarantino lied about acting roles he got on his early CV to make himself appear more important. Once again you can check out my own CV below.

Name dropping does work (it is show business). The film industry works in circles of contacts, the last job I got worked out because the director noticed on my CV that I worked with a producer a few years back who he met at a networking event. What are the chances, quite likely in an industry where everyone knows one another.

5. Keep your CV 2 pages max and keep your education short

A clear to the point one page CV is better than 2 pages of filler. What GCSE’s (high school grades) you got are not that important, credits and experience outweigh education.  I include that I studied film at university right at the bottom of my CV. Don’t include things like I got a B in science A-level. Just Like the rest of your CV keep your education relevant. You might want to say – I’ve studied media since high school and studied production at university.

So to conclude CVs are an important part in getting your film job (especially at first when you have no contacts). Credits and contacts is what it’s all about. Don’t make your CV wordy keep it streamlined and clear. For those starting out once you’ve got those first 3 professional credits you’ll be flying.

6 Examples of Color Theory in film. Red is the color of power, lust and love

 
Colour Theory in Cinema color theory in film
 

I would love to make a film and focus on every shot with obsessive detail. Indie filmmakers have so much to focus on (often the director taking on multiple roles) that there is no time to put the effort into every shot.

The basics of color theory in film for cinematography was something I first read about many years ago in this fantastic book If It’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling which looks at many scenes within films to show how color has been used to enhance every shot.

I will be using this book as reference for the examples used below. Color Theory technique for cinematography, color can be used as a technique to bring more layers into a story. Different shades of color can provoke different responses and emotions within humans.

Although noted in the book filmmakers should avoid using color theory in film purely as an abstract notion. Some colors can be planned to be placed into films prior to weeks of pre-production, other time colors are chosen to be introduced into a film on the day by gut feeling. I have referenced 6 main studio films as examples of their use of color below.

1. Red American Beauty 

americna-beauty-color-theory-e1448308114694-1024x469.png

Red is like visual caffeine, it can give power, create desire- lust and love. The colours of red, white and blue are used throughout American Beauty. The family is portrayed as the traditional happy American suburban family, complete with white picket fence. Then there are the dark red petals that surround Angela in Lester’s hyper-delusional lust filled fantasies. American Beauty has a color pallet of red, white and blue throughout. I have created a Pinterest board of the use of red in cinema here.

2. Yellow Dick Tracy

dick-tracy-use-of-colour-in-cinema-e1448309818276.jpg

Yellow is the colour of caution, it brings power, energy and anxiety. Dick Tracy wears a bright yellow coat and hat, the screen becomes energised whenever Tracy enters. The color is brash, daring, it is the color of obsession (according to scientists the colour a person sees first and forgets the least ) , there is a reason poisonous reptiles have yellow skin. Tracy is the obsessive detective caught up in his case . Yellow being a perfectly symbolic color for Taxi Driver’s obsessive Travis Bickle.

3. Blue Shawshank redemption

Blue can be a tranquil pond or a soft blanket of sadness. Throughout Shawshank the film is surrounded by the color of blue. A smog of grey blue surrounds the film. Shawshank is a film of sadness, and is this emotion that cinematographer Roger Deakins wanted the audience to feel throughout the film. That we are amongst the prisons. When Andy escapes the prison he finds his friend Red on an island, with vibrant green land – the first time vivid colours have been used throughout the film.  I have created a Pinterest board of the use of blue in cinema here.

4. Orange The Godfather

Orange is the welcoming color, warm sunsets and Halloween pumpkins.  In the opening scene of The Godfather the Don’s office is lit with an amber and orange light. The film is lit romantically with pastel orange shades. Throughout the film the orange shades turn more red as more is revealed within the crime underworld. Not to mention the use of physical orange props used throughout the Godfather movies.

5. Green Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Green can signal health, danger or decay. It is the colour of fresh vegetables and spoiled meat. In Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Jen and her master Li Mu Bai are about to have a fight in a green vibrant bamboo forest. The fight is non-violent Jen’s master is afraid that Jen is turning evil, he chases her through the forest, she disappears diving into a green lake.

The oppositional nature of green plays a significant part in the story. The sword’s name is Green Destiny, and the villain’s name is Jade Fox. Li Mu Bai’s concern that Jen can become a poison dragon is his primary motivation in wanting to teach her

6. Purple Chicago

Purple the colour of mystery, the paranormal and death. In Chicago purple is used to show both death and delusion. Roxy stands on stage she looks out into the crowd purple light covers her and the piano player. Roxy is imagining that she is a famous singer, the story is about the glamorization of criminals. Purple is consistent throughout the deaths that take place in the film.

I enjoy using color in my films, I feel that by putting a color gel on a light a film could be made to stand out against the majority of indie films being created. The master's use color theory in film as a deliberate device in their films, every little detail is helping to tell the story.

Resources

Link to a great book on color theory in cinema,  Article What’s with all the Oranges in the Godfather? , Lots of good reads  on cinematography and color theory in film Stephen Murphy DOP Documents, You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms