After scouting a location in Memphis, TN, I realized that the opening sequence for Quest would be extremely challenging. To keep production costs down, I decided to have the entire opening sequence storyboarded. The first person that came to mind was Mark Giambrone, who’s been in the advertising business for over twenty years. He’s created more than 135 television spots and I felt that if anyone could create storyboarding miracles, it’s Mark.
His Super Soaker squirt gun campaign made the product America’s #1 toy , the year it was introduced. Mark also launched Borden’s Big Cheese and rolled out Jeni Lee Cosmetics. He has won Clios, Addys, Mobius, Obies, and several New York Advertising Awards for his art direction and design. Mark’s creative work has been recognized in such prestigious advertising and design annuals as The One Show, Art Directors Club of New York, and British Design and Art Direction.
With top talent on board, Mark and I started discussing my shot list and the demands put on us by the story and its locations. Since the sequence required hundreds of boards, we decided to start with thumbnail sketches. While they are down and dirty, it quickly allows us to communicate composition, camera position, movement, action, stunt requirements, blocking, and good old fashion storytelling.
The film opens with a pastor bumping into a young teen that has had little time with his parents since their divorce. Their encounter is brief, but encouraging. Unfortunately, the teen jumps into his drunken brother’s mustang to ride shotgun in the street race. Toward the end of the fast and furious race, his brother loses control when sideswiped by the other car and flips his mustang into a field.
The second car also loses control and crashes into a power line pole, which falls and ignites the dry grass. The flames rage and move toward the young teen who is trapped inside of the upside down car. As the flames approach, he calls out to the pastor’s God for help and quickly finds himself in a storm. The deluge of rain puts out the fire, but makes flight difficult for the medevac helicopter speeding to his rescue. The boy loses consciousness as the chopper lands.
The images I’ve added to this article are the actual thumbnails. They meet my specifications and the Panavision cinemascope 2.40:1 frame ratio. By using these rough thumbnail sketches, I was able to have Mark make quick changes with far less effort. The only drawback at this stage is not being able to see the high quality, fully inked boards that he normally draws.
However, the quick turnaround time has allowed us to start cutting together the animatics, which will give us an opportunity to spot additional shots that need to be sketched before we get to the inking stage. It also helps us determine in advance, any additional drawing elements that are needed for the previz work.
A couple hundred thumbnails were created out of three short online meetings. I was amazed that 95% of the time we saw eye to eye on the shots. Most of the rework was due to changes in camera position, location requirements, and creative brainstorming that helped us find better ways to tell the story.
Once we get to the final inked drawings, I’ll make sure some of them appear on my blog so you can see the huge difference in definition, style, and tonal qualities. I’m also talking with Mark about publishing a small behind the scenes booklet that includes the various stages that we use in our storyboarding process.