Storyboarding 101 – Creating, Editing, and Presenting your Movie Pitch like a Pro


Storyboarding 101:

Creating, Editing and Presenting your Movie Pitch like a Pro

Nobody will ever notice that. Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture.

-Ed Wood

Storyboarding is an essential skill in filmmaking. Not only does it guide the actual creation of the film, but storyboarding also plays an integral role in presenting a movie pitch and garnering support for its creation. Here’s what goes into creating, editing, and presenting a storyboard.

Creating A Storyboard

1. List Your Shots

List out the shots from a given scene in your script. Think about how camera angles will play a role in presenting the story and actions of the characters. Ask yourself how camera angles can reveal aspects about the characters, traits, and motivations that make the scene meaningful. Roughly sketch the shot list.

2. Sketch the Sequence

Whether it’s a short film or a detailed animation, you should choose a more complex sequence and then think about the vision you have for the scene. List every shot you anticipate needing pre-editing (i.e., raw material) and then sketch it into the squares of one of your storyboarding templates. You can think of it like a comic strip.

It’s okay if the sketch starts out with basic shapes and figures. If you want something more elaborate, you can turn to a storyboard artist who can take your basic drawings and work with you to make them more detailed.

3. Add the Details

It’s important that your storyboard highlights each scene’s most important aspects. Although your storyboard is ultimately a static image, it will become a video or animation that flows in motion. Keep that in mind and make sure you indicate the motions you intend to happen.

Use arrows to denote the direction a person is moving. Draw in props that are critical to the scene’s actions. Note the framing and camera angle for every shot. At the same time, make sure you don’t go into too much detail. Focus on providing a general outline.

4. Write Notes

Your storyboard should be highly visual, but it’s okay to use words below each image to provide additional context when necessary. This is an excellent place to add things that your drawing cannot communicate, like the voice over you plan to include with the scene and other details.

Again, make sure you aren’t adding so many details that the storyboard becomes bogged down. The storyboard should be quickly and easily digested, especially by people who haven’t read your script.

Editing A Storyboard

There’s no right or wrong way to create a storyboard, but it is important that you edit your storyboard in a way that makes it interesting and keeps the focus on the action or meaning of the scene. Your storyboard will ultimately help your moving gain funding when you go to pitch the idea, so spending time editing it is crucial to the project’s overall success.

If you used stick figures for your storyboard, you may decide during editing that you would like to go back and add additional details. This is something you can do on your own or, if you feel like you lack artistic flair, you can call in a professional to help. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a stick figure storyboard either — as long as the storyboard conveys the motions, actions, and meanings of the scene.

As you’re editing, it could be helpful to get others’ input and constructive feedback. For instance, another person may find that you include just a bit too much detail, or maybe not enough. Someone who hasn’t read your script should look the storyboard over and let you know what they take away from it, so you can determine if there’s enough information there for them to follow along.

Presenting A Storyboard

When you get the opportunity to present your storyboard, you will undoubtedly be very excited. However, a lot goes into a successful movie pitch. Follow these tips:

  • Never try to explain the entire story.
  • Start by revealing how the idea came to fruition.
  • Focus on the story’s critical elements.
  • Don’t reveal the outcome. Leave them wanting more.
  • Finish with the movie title and a single-sentence summary (i.e., the “log line”).

By following these basic tips, you’ll be able to present your movie pitch like a pro. Once you’ve weaved a tale in 1-2 minutes using this advice, an interested buyer will dedicate some time to sit down with you and have a look at your storyboard. You can then talk about the movie idea in a bit more detail, but follow these same rules. Keep things short, sweet, and leave them in suspense.

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