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much at stake these days at the box office, it is surprising that this costly mistake is ever made. But for storyboard artist Chris Buchinsky, it is one he has seen made all too often. Considered to be the blueprint for any film, in an

ideal world the storyboard is created long before filming commences. This helps the entire crew to visualise scenes as seen through the eyes of the director and identify any potential problems before they occur. Great directors swear by them. Inexperienced ones do not, and if a producer working with a first-time director knows what is good for their production, it is Buchinsky they turn to for help. “I often get calls from producers at two in the

morning saying, ‘Can you help me out? I’ve got a first-time director and we’re in trouble.’ If I agree to help, the very next morning I’ll be in an office with the director, who’s usually a young kid. He’s got people asking him if he needs anything and gophers running around after him. Forme this is like teaching film class on the job, with me walking the director,who has not directed one frame of filmever before in his life, through the process, so that he can come away with a great movie.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, Buchinsky

will also be called upon when a shoot is nearing completion and the often unstoppable creative force of the director meets the immovable budget of the producer. “This happened with Joel Schumacher, who I loved working with, for the filmDying Young starring Julia Roberts,” says Buchinsky. “Joel wouldn’t discuss scenes any more with the on-set producer, so they needed me to come in, sit down with Joel and pound out storyboards so they knew where their money was going. I then went on to work with Joel on Batman Forever.” In years gone by, storyboard artists were thought

of as the guardians of continuity – films are shot out of sequence and the boards they create are an invaluableway of checking that everythingmatches up. This role soon evolved into storytelling when studios realised what a great tool boards were and how much money could be saved simply by planning every shot ahead of time. This was especially true when special effects became a substantial feature in productions. “I once got a call a few years back from a friend

of mine, David Lowery, who is now the storyboard artist for Steven Spielberg. They had been drawing boards for a whole year for a movie they were planning, that’s how important drawings are to Spielberg. So if your film is not planned out on boards, drawn and redrawn like he does, then your film is not going to look like one of his films and God help you if you are opening the same weekend as him.” With this level of regard shown by a director as

successful as Steven Spielberg, it is incredible to think that there are directors who pay storyboards little or no attention. It is also curious that not so long ago, the trend in Hollywood was to use pre-viz artists instead of storyboard artists. Believing this to be a time-saving exercise, studios

hired computer operators to generate moving previews for directors incapable of reading storyboards. “Producers wanted to see things move because they had directors that couldn’t relay in their minds from storyboard frame to storyboard frame what the piece was going to look like,” says Buchinsky. “But the problem was these operators were being asked to be film makers and very few had that type of experience.” Recounting the times when he would be placed in a room with no windows with a computer operator, Buchinsky remembers fondly how he would race these operators to produce boards for the director. “Nothing is faster than a pencil. They also come

with this great editing tool on the other end, called an eraser. I can knock out a scene in 10minuteswith one of these and if the director doesn’t like it I can change it and have it back to themfiveminutes later. It’s crazy really because it takes just minutes to get a concept down on paper and can save everybody millions of dollars in the long run.” Although not as widespread as it should be, the

input storyboard artists can offer is regaining favour with directors and studios alike and Buchinsky is seeing a renewed respect for the work he and countless other artists do. “Last yearMartin Campbell, the director ofGreen

Lantern, asked me to do storyboards for the film’s post effects.Wewent frame by frame on that project because he wanted me to do storyboards for the pre-viz department and it became routine that they had to wait for me. I became their best friend, their


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