As a storyboard artist you are responsible for creating the ‘first look’ of a film, and by way of simply drawing out the scenes you become a kind of film director in your own right.
This transformation is most readily apparent if you leave nothing open to interpretation. Your work should be rock solid and include every bit of necessary detail before it is handed off to other departments.
Signs Your Artwork is Production-Ready
So how do you know if you’ve reached this level? And how do you know if you are ready to assume the arduous responsibility of directing a film?
You are ready if:
• Your characters are positioned well and stay on model
• Your framing and camera movements are well established
• Your character poses are fluid and capture the action of the script
• Most importantly, your illustrations hit every story point and beat.
This is not a comprehensive list, but you are able to demonstrate this body of knowledge in your storyboards, you are definitely on the right track.
Transferable Skills of the Artist/Director
If there is one thing that would allow a seasoned storyboard artist to make the leap to directing it would be the ability to establish mood through lighting as it makes illustrations and film sets come alive.
That said, the mood of a scene is not solely established through lighting alone. Your choice of shot selection adds considerable emotional weight to a scene, as does camera movement.
Storyboard artists go about their work with such things always in the back of their minds — not to mention that the success or failure of a scene is quite literally in their hands. But if you use it to your advantage it will be a great asset to you as a director.
Creating a Unified Artistic Vision
Sequential art does its job well if it tells a story. And by following the storyboarding process from conceptualisation through to complete, the artist invariably asks important story questions.
Questions such as:
• How do character motivations manifest themselves?
• How do the characters interact with their environment?
• What elements does a scene need for it to be interesting?
• What is the optimal number of shots needed to sell the action?
In answer, the storyboard artist creates a unified artistic vision that resembles the creative vision of the director and shares in the experience of framing the story for the audience.
Finding and Solving Unique Visual Solutions
Developing a critical eye is the key to creating good conceptual work that translates onto the screen and the best story artists are usually those who can routinely come up with new and unique visual solutions for troublesome or technically challenging scenes.
This type of development is achievable but it is a long process that can take years. Be prepared to put in the hours and remember, all the story skills mentioned thus far can be learned and they are in very high demand.
If you are currently a storyboard artist with dreams of one day directing your own film project, know that this reality might actually be much closer than you think.
Some of the best directors in the world are story artists themselves — Ridley Scott and James Cameron for example — and if you want my opinion, the world needs more of them.
Whenever you are working away at conceptualising a script, never leave anything out and let your passion for storytelling lead you on to bigger and better things.