Pre-Vis! You Magnificent Bastard!

I’ve started assembling an animatic to pre-visualize a new short film I’m developing. I’m using storyboards from Chuck Forsman, who turned my stick-figure scribbles into presentable artwork evoking the intended tone beautifully. I also have to thank the supremely gifted actors, John T. Woods and Ellie Araiza, for providing the characters’ voices.

This is a very revealing process. I can almost imagine my editor saying it’s bordering on essential for identifying pacing issues not made obvious on the page. Besides, if we’re accustomed to doing multiple drafts of a screenplay, and even multiple drafts of storyboards, why not also continue to revise with what is more or less an early rough cut, or sketch, of the movie?

Part of me wants to take it one step further and shoot each shot, quick and dirty on my iphone, in a black box theater. Then cut that together to see how it’s shaping up before committing money, resources, the cast and crew’s talent, and their valuable time to the production. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s a craft I enjoy at every stage. And forming a solid preliminary baseline for the movie makes it easier to deviate with confidence on set when everyone’s creative energy is buzzing and surprising us with what I can only describe as magic.

All that being said, I’d love to hear about how you prepare and communicate the movie you imagine in your head to cast and crew. Storyboards, look books, anyone else tried an animatic before?