Ive been getting an influx of messages from students asking me what they can do to become a story artist. I decided to put together a list of a few basic things to get you started on the journey. There is much more that goes into making a good story artist but these are just some of my personal suggestions to start.

First, I always like to suggest some reading material. Here are  few books that really helped me wrap my head around a few ideas:

  1. Visual Story- Bruce Block
  2. Story- Robert Mckee
  3. The 5C’s of Cinematography- Joseph Mascelli
  4. Save the Cat-Blake Snyder
  5. On Filmmaking- Alexander Mackendrick 

Next i’d suggest watching as many movies as possible. Studies from the greats Kubrick, Spielberg, Hitchcock, Coen Brothers, Kurosawa, or whoever else you find yourself drawn to. When I say study, I mean really analyze the film from all angles. (camera, composition, Story telling, dialogue, acting.) Have a piece of paper nearby and draw small thumbnails of compositions. 

Check out the AFI Top 100 lists for starters:  http://www.afi.com/100years/movies10.aspx

Storyboarding involves a lot of drawing. Usually quick drawings that have clear reads. So to better your skills draw as much as possible! Draw everything! But not just mindless drawing really think about what you are drawing and why. Look for specific gestures, facial expressions, and designs. A great way to learn this is through life drawing. 

Lastly, Tell stories! The job of a story artist is to visually tell a story through drawings in order to inform others in the production. Great drawings are really second to great storytelling. A good way to improve on telling stories is to do it as much as possible no matter the medium.

Again these are just some of my personal suggestions and a place to start the journey. Hope its helpful! 

  • Sam Mendes:What is the most common phrase you use on set?
  • Joe Wright:"Beautiful. One more."
  • Christopher Nolan:"Moving on."
  • Steven Spielberg:"Cut." "That was brilliant." "Once more!"
  • Sofia Coppola:"Okay, great, let's do it again."
  • Rob Marshall:"Cut. That was great." I think it's always important to give immediate positive reinforcement.
  • David Fincher:"Shut the fuck up, please."

During the filming of Schindler’s List, Robin Williams called Steven Spielberg and told him jokes to cheer him up.

In an ‘Ask Me Anything’ thread from Reddit (which is super depressing and totally sucks you down a rabbit hole [and is so sad in hindsight, but even now his jokes still cheer you up!]), Robin Williams comments on this by saying:

“I think I only called him once, maybe twice. I called him when I was representing People for the Valdheimers Association. A society devoted to helping raise money to help older Germans who had forgotten everything before 1945. I remember him laughing and going 'thank you.’”