I'm taking a year off to make a feature-length video storyboard for a film called Gordon and the Stareater. This blog has been set up so that friends can track my progress over the coming year.
In 1998, while attending art school, I began to fantasize about writing a graphic novel. It was called "Gordon and the Stareater," and it followed the adventures of a gigantic sentient alien space probe and its only friend, a lowly employee of the Pan Galactic Postal Service. Over the next ten years, I made sporadic attempts to write a book, but it never really took shape. I began to realize that as long as I had a full-time job, I wouldn't be able to muster the energy or time to make serious headway on such a big project.
A few months ago, I began to feel the tug of something new. My wife, Jiyoung, got me a book of storyboards for Spirited Away. Flipping through the pages, I saw that Miyazaki's drawings contained everything that was great about the finished film. The key creative act had taken place in the mind of one person! Until that moment, I had thought of movies as big-team enterprises, not as something that could grow from such a small-scale, organic process. Spirited Away came from a guy, some pencils, and a whole lot of paper. That made my head spin.
After talking a little bit with my friend Steve Thompson (the cinematics director at Gas Powered Games), it became more and more difficult to think of reasons why I shouldn't try to storyboard Gordon and the Stareater. Even better, I could collect and edit those storyboards into a sequential animatic, supplying my own voice-overs and sound effects. I got so excited about the idea, I could barely sit still.
All I needed was a decent span of undistracted working time. After talking it over with Jiyoung and agreeing that we had enough savings to stay afloat for awhile, I resigned from my job. Yesterday was my last day.
I feel both exhilirated and terrified. I know almost nothing about filmmaking or screenwriting. I have little in the way of a plan for what to do when the animatic is complete. I have jumped from the plane, and I've got a year to figure out how to make a parachute.
Steve Thompson has recommended two books: "The Five C's of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques" and "Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen." I ordered these, as well as "Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting." The next two weeks will be a crash-course in the fundamentals of filmmaking.
I'll have to learn by doing, however, because I've promised Steve a rough-draft feature-length animatic by April 1. We did some back-of-the-envelope math on that one, and it translates to a pace of about 6 minutes per drawing. I'm really glad I've got Steve as a spotter -- without someone breathing down my neck, I'd be tempted to turn this year into one long summer vacation.
I'll be using the following tools: the storyboards will be made in Adobe Photoshop CS3. I'll be using a Wacom Cintiq tablet monitor, which makes the drawing process much faster and more manageable than if I were drawing on paper. The drawings will be strung together in video form using Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum. Jiyoung and I (and anybody else who wants to participate) will be doing the temp voice over -- we'll probably just record it into the headphone mic that she uses for Skype video chatting.
I'll be posting as much material as I can to this blog, in the hope that interested readers will be willing to provide comments, critique, and advice. I feel like a student again. My eyes and ears are wide open.
Here we go!