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