Ridley Scott Demystifies the Art of Storyboarding (and How to Jumpstart Your Creative Project)

Some film­mak­ers put sto­ry­boards, those com­ic book-look­ing shot plans you some­times glimpse in mak­ing-of doc­u­men­taries, at the cen­ter of their cre­ative process. Ter­ry Gilliam, he of Brazil and 12 Mon­keys, has described sto­ry­boards as the one thing he can safe­ly “lock onto” dur­ing the com­pli­cat­ed, ever-shift­ing shoot­ing process. Oth­er film­mak­ers, such as the hearti­ly impro­vi­sa­tion­al Wern­er Her­zog, have dis­missed sto­ry­boards as the tool of “cow­ards,” of “those who lack imag­i­na­tion,” of “those who are bureau­crat­ic and noth­ing else on the set.” Hav­ing spent sev­en for­ma­tive years in art school, Alien and Blade Run­ner direc­tor Rid­ley Scott devel­ops his films by think­ing as much through the frame­work of visu­al art as through that of cin­e­ma. In the video above, a laid-back Scott, cig­ar in hand, dis­cuss­es how sto­ry­boards, sketch­es, and oth­er pieces of hand-drawn imagery help him make movies.

Telling how he’s found loca­tions, envi­sioned scenes with­in them, and used draw­ings to build those scenes, Scott offers an insight into the look and feel of his own work and use­ful advice to fel­low cre­ators, whether or not they work in a visu­al medi­um. His inspi­ra­tion begins with an activ­i­ty as sim­ple — but nonethe­less a source of “great enjoy­ment” — as look­ing at indus­tri­al land­scapes out the win­dow of a car. Some­times he even begins thumb­nail sketch­es then and there, in tran­sit. Not only does his draft­ing back­ground enable him to do that, but it leads to clos­er work­ing rela­tion­ships with his pro­fes­sion­al sto­ry­board artists. Con­fer­ring with them men­tal­ly pre­pares him to “hit the floor” and shoot the scene. He reveals that, whether you’re direct­ing a $120 mil­lion motion pic­ture, paint­ing a paint­ing, or even writ­ing a blog post, you face the same chal­lenge: “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.” He notes that his meth­ods have led to some call­ing his films “overde­signed and over-thought out,” but admits that, at this point, “I’ll prob­a­bly just stay with the plan.”

via @webacion

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Mak­ing of Blade Run­ner

Rid­ley Scott Read­ies a Pre­quel to Alien; Guy Pearce Gives Its “TED Talk”

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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