I’ve recently been reading more about Stoic philosophy. I find it applies to living the freelance life and helps with the anxiety of that life.
Stoic philosophy tells us to always think what could be the negative aspect in any situation. If a thing doesn’t go as planned, what are the consequences and how will that affect my tranquility? This will inform our daily practice by acknowledging the impermanence of things. If an assignment seems to be all encompassing, we realize it will over soon, so we must enjoy the process. Stoicism tells us not get tied up in the outcomes of work- audience acceptance or success- but more the truth to intention.
I used to imagine what would happen if I failed a storyboard test or a job interview. I’d never work again? This proved unreasonable. By going through negative scenarios, I eased my anxiety and learned the value to putting one’s best effort in and abandoning “hope” of praise.
Gordon Willis, my favourite cinematographer, died the other day. He earned the sobriquet “The Prince of Darkness’ with his control of light. He emulated Rembrandt. But he also controlled composition like an Old Master.
I plan to re-watch some of his classics, Manhattan, All The President’s Men, And The Godfathers, as a celebration of his inspiring images.
All board artists are well advised to study his work.
And from Mr. A:
“Bob Fawcett always simplified form in his drawings. He once said, “Economy in drawing is essentially the shorthand which develops in the excitement of the fleeting moment. It is the thing seen subjected to editorial exclusion.” However, he tried to avoid slipping into superficiality: “One’s study can be admired for it’s beautiful line, but if that line is not expressing an understanding of the form itself it remains mildly interesting, but empty of content.””
Storyboarding is about economy of drawing. Fawcett would have been a great board artist.
Reference to Fawcett’s drawing methods, HERE
JW: When there’s an action sequence in Indy and your other movies, you always have clarity. You never wonder, “Who’s that guy punching that guy?” But in recent action movies, there’s more confusion on purpose, on the part of the director, to create a feeling of chaos on-screen. You don’t seem to go for that.
SS: No, I don’t go for that. I go for geography. I want the audience to know not only which side the good guy’s on and the bad guy’s on, but which side of the screen they’re in, and I want the audience to be able to edit as quickly as they want in a shot that I am loath to cut away from. And that’s been my style with all four of these Indiana Jones pictures. Quick-cutting is very effective in some movies, like the Bourne pictures, but you sacrifice geography when you go for quick-cutting. Which is fine, because audiences get a huge adrenaline rush from a cut every second and a half on The Bourne Ultimatum, and there’s just enough geography for the audience never to be lost, especially in the last Bourne film, which I thought was the best of the three. But, by the same token, Indy is a little more old-fashioned than the modern-day action adventure. I tried very hard, and I hope I succeeded, in not re-inventing the genre, because that would not make it an Indy movie. I just didn’t want to re-invent Indy in a way that would deny that these movies are more based on 1930s Hollywood pictures than anything else.
Remember your geography.
Speilberg Interview: Jim Windolf
Vanity Fair, January 8, 2008
“A lot of director’s like to store things away in their heads, becoming the secret force of their own battle plans. They leave the crew high and dry, wondering what they’re up to and then they don’t get involved. I’ve always felt that the people who make direct contributions to what goes on the screen need to have, at least in my movies, a firm idea of what we’re collaborating towards, and storyboarding is a way to communicate, before one frame of footage is exposed, what the director is thinking about. It’s a way to draw the play on the chalkboard before the ball is snapped.”
Share your boards with the crew.
Notes on Boarding from Steven Spielberg
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
American Cinematographer, July 1984