Why are storyboards so important for planning a film?
Storyboarding is important because it allows a filmmaker to communicate their vision precisely as they see it to the rest of the cast/crew. Also, it can ensure that no shots are missed or forgotten when filming on location or on set.
Experience as a sketch artist is not necessary. As long as the general points you want to address when filming are present in the storyboard; it will be useful.
How does the script relate to the storyboards?
Storyboards are a visual representation of the script. Also, storyboards can offer more insight and clarification to vague actions, details or emotions described in the script.
Almost every successful story can be summed up into three acts (not to be confused with the beginning middle and end), creating a full story arch that captivates an audience.
Summarize each act of the three-act structure and explain what its role in the story is.
Act 1: The Confrontation
This act introduces the characters, their setting, and the conflict. It must also present a sharp hook, an exciting scene that draws the audience in early into the movie.
Act 1 can be broken into four stages:
Act 2: The Initiation
This act is the longest and can be the hardest to write. This is because, after the rush of producing the story in act 1, the screenwriter is left feeling like they are without plot elements to introduce.
Act 2 can be broken into five stages:
Act 3: The Return
Act 3 is the shortest of the three acts. It presents the final confrontation and introduces a denouncement. The conclusion will usually follow shortly after.
Act 3 can be broken into two stages:
What are the differences between an outline, synopsis, and treatment?
What is an outline?
An outline is usually the first step of the process, establishing the structure of the story that the writer is creating. The specifics of the story typically haven't been thought of yet, so the outline should only include the essential story elements. In television, the outline is often referred to as a "beat sheet." In this format, scenes are broken down as "beats," or significant moments of the particular scene.
What is a synopsis?
Essentially an extended log-line, a synopsis is a three-sentence to a one-page description of the overall premise of the story. The sweeter and straight to the point the synopsis is, the more effective it will be.
What is a treatment?
A treatment is the short story version of the script. It can be written anywhere from two to thirty pages, although there is no real limit. It is rare that a producer will ask for a treatment, but if one does, it is crucial that it is written excellently. It is also good practice to write the treatment in present tense and in the active voice, similar to how a script is written.
When pitching an idea, there may be as little as 60 seconds to get everything you can about your screenplay across before your potential agent, producer or executive has decided to read your work. Because of this, you'll want to pitch your project in a way that maximizes the listener's interest in the shortest amount of time.
What are three major tips to create a great pitch?
1. Begin by revealing how you came up with the idea
Beginning with the thought process behind your ideas can be much more interesting, whether it comes from a personal experience, is based on a true story or comes from a novel (that you have rights to), as opposed to beginning with the title, which can often be confusing and irrelevant without context.
2. Never tell the whole story
Instead, reveal essential elements of the story. Who is the hero? What is their call to adventure? Why will we feel empathy for them? What about the apotheosis? Also, why will the story be successful both emotionally and commercially? Include important details of the screenplay, but remember, you only have 60-90 seconds, there will not be time for a full story breakdown.
In addition to only revealing the important elements, leave your listener in suspense. Don't reveal the outcome of the screenplay in the pitch. Create a cliffhanger by finishing your summary at Act 2.
3. Follow your pitch (log line) with a question
After you finish your summary, ask the listener a question, preferably a question that gives them options. For example, asking if they have any questions, or if they would like to be sent the whole screenplay -- both options work for you.
Last, but certainly not least, answer any questions you receive in a clear and brief way, lasting no more than 10 seconds. If there's anything else that they'd want to know, they will ask another question.
What is pre-production?
Pre-production is the steps filmmakers take before the physical production of the film.
What are the steps that a filmmaker must take to transfer an idea in their head into a form that is ready to be filmed on camera?
After learning framing, angles, and composition, how has it improved the appreciation of watching films and television?
After gaining a full understanding of these visual aspects, watching films and television is a different experience. I notice the medium close-ups, the dutch tilts, the rule of thirds and the golden rule.
What are examples of how you've seen these principles in play out in the world?
I recently rewatched Tom Shadyac's silly but entertaining "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," and was able to recognize the composition immediately.
The medium close-up, close up and extreme close-up were all used countlessly throughout the film to encompass the various facial expressions that Jim Carry would make entirely. The repetition of these shots alone helps to establish the unique nature of this film.
Also, I noticed that low angles and high angles were frequently used throughout the movie. Whenever Jim Carry was made to look like a fool, a high angle was used to belittle his character. Whenever he won an argument, however, a low angle would accentuate his character and give him a powerful appearance.
The third aspect of composition that I noticed in the film was the frequency of establishing shots. As the investigation led them all over the city, or one of the characters traveled to a new location, an establishing shot would be used to give context to that setting change.
What are things that I've recently learned about camera and composition?
1. The relationship between composition/angles and emotion
I was astonished at the direct correlation between composition/angles and emotion. A high angle conveying weakness and violence or an extreme close up creating drama, awkwardness, and intimacy.
2. The relationship between size and importance
I was surprised by a number of filmmakers in the industry who implement the Hitchcock rule into their films. More significant things in the story having a larger scale on screen was a detail I hadn't ever noticed previously.
What are questions that I still have?
One question that I still have is about lenses in combination with composition. I understand that same shots can all be achieved regardless of the focal length, but that the different focal length does have different effects on how the shot appears, but what is that differentiating impact they have?
What is one thing I want to learn more about?
I want to spend more time learning, practicing and getting comfortable with configuring ISO, shutter speed, aperture and color temperature to the best settings. Camera settings can be tricky, so I will be spending lots of time improving my abilities in this area.
Alfred Hitchcock was famously known for his specific and attentive techniques that he used in his films. While many of his techniques were relatively simple, many of them -- such as the Hitchcock rule -- have become essential vocabulary in the cinematic language.
What is the Hitchcock rule?
The Hitchcock rule states, "The size of any object in your frame should be proportional to its importance to the story at that moment." (1) Essentially, subjects of greater importance should be permitted a larger scale while items of little importance should be restricted to smaller sizes.
How does it apply to filmmaking?
This rule comes into play when deciding the composition of shots, and can be applied both on set or while editing. It is a technique used to enhance the story, and thus, should be kept in thought when creating a shot list or filming a scene.
What is one example of when you put a close up of detail in your film? Why did you choose it?
One example of when I put a close up of detail is when I had a shot of the phone of my subject in my film "Blacklisted." By showing the website that she was viewing on her phone, (crime reports), and then a shot of her pulling out pepper spray, the audience can make the connection that she is afraid of encountering trouble, and for her life.
(1) Lee Watanabe Crockett. "10 Powerful Visual Storytelling Techniques to Remember." Global Digital Citizen Foundation. 12 Feb. 2017. Web. 19 Oct. 2017.