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Cinematheque Francaise: Master Class

Directing on Paper - the Art of the Storyboard

 by David Russell

     "A true director is a master of numerous disciplines, of which storytelling ability is certainly the most important. To evoke awe, tension, fear, love and longing through the fragile medium of film is an act of magic -- but it is a practical magic, wielded by visual magicians with keen insight and great sympathy for humanity. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to work with directors of startlingly diverse styles. Each has deepened my own knowledge of filmmaking; I can only hope that I enriched their cinematic visions through the art of storyboarding.
 
     As a functional discipline, storyboarding provides the first look at the proposed film, which previously has existed only in text form.  So then, is the storyboard a complete and accurate representation of the film, or segments of it? No; but it does provide a visual road map, from which the director can veer into new and inspirational side roads that always manifest during production. In addition, the storyboard can serve as a reminder of the filmmaker's original vision, and even as a precise shooting guide.  Such was the case with many of Alfred Hitchcock films, which were essentially directed on paper by the eminent American illustrators Mentor Huebner and Harold Michaelson with relatively little guidance from Hitchcock himself.  I have had many similar experiences. This sharing of responsibility only highlights the critical role the storyboard artist can play in the design of a film, and the trust many directors are willing to extend to such artists who are often described as auxiliary directors."
 

Master and Commander

storyboards by D. Russell