The Initial Storyboard
Following discussion about the screenplay, we moved on to the storyboarding stage.
Below is my first dig at a storyboard (including several of Kharis’ frames). We were heavily inspired by The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and the classic shot/reverse-shot editing style. We incorporated many over-the-shoulder shots which helps enhance the tempo and build the tension. It was also important that we paid close attention to the 180-degree and 30-degree rules and this meant planning exactly where our characters would be in context to the environment. This is something that took time and revisions through pre-vis and animatic screenings.
We knew we wanted to open with a key establishing shot of the desert, then another establishing shot of the showdown. At this stage, our idea was to start out as a nature documentary (as a direct play on the theme), which then shifted into a cinematic narrative. This would also involve a shift in aspect ratio from 16:9 (TV Widescreen) to 2.35:1 (Theatrical Ultrawide). During our presentation, people suggested going in an even more ‘mockumentary’ direction which I thought was a very interesting idea. I could envision the different characters having Modern Family/00’s sit-com style interviews breaking the fourth wall throughout the showdown, comedically cutting the tension. However, upon discussion with the group, we agreed that the 30-second runtime would make it difficult to achieve this in a fluid manner.
The initial concept for our ending was to have the camera get hit by a ricocheted bullet and consequently cut to a ‘PLEASE STAND BY’ screen. This was received okay in our presentation, however, at this stage we found it was still slightly convoluted and lacking a more distinct closure. Also, it played back in a very confusing way in terms of camera, so we knew we had to work on this in revisions and heading into the pre-vis.
Revised Storyboard / Shot-list / The Animatic
Upon feedback from Alec and the class during our first presentation, we decided to align our storyboard even further to the classical Western style and drew out the shots longer. I looked further into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to improve this.
We also completely revised the ending during a creative discussion in class. We thought an interesting take on the macro idea was to have a human-sized foot squash all the bugs. This would tap on a theme of nature and the idea that humans often carelessly tread on wildlife – relating back to our armature in a more literal sense. It was also heavily comedic, in-turn making the 30-second run-time more appropriate and allowing the film to gain a sense of closure. We thought it would be interesting to make this the actual Clint Eastwood from TGTBaTU as a meta reference (basically suggesting these bugs are canon in that universe). This was an exciting moment as a group as we all felt strong about this idea and direction. In response, I drew up a revised storyboard/shot-list:
See animatic of storyboard here, with timing and pacing considered.