Storyboards and Director's Vision Statement by Noel Day for a Short Film Contest

Throughout this past year I have been entering my short auto-biographical medical-documentary film My Aura's Echowhich I wrote and directed, into film festivals around the country. As of yet, I've only heard back from one, the LA Femme Festival, that it were not selected, boo-hoo. But it's okay, I've submitted to many, and the festival circuit is a hard game to play. You submit to a ton, you get into a few, if any. It doesn't mean your film isn't any good, it just means that festival wasn't right, at that time, for your film. There's a lot of rejection in this industry, it's good to remain positive. 

So on a positive note...another great festival I submitted my film to is the Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF) in Richmond, Virginia. I find out in December if my film is officially selected (so keep your fingers crossed!!) but in the meantime, I had another great opportunity given to me through this festival just because I submitted a film to it:

RIFF is putting on a short film contest for their festival, made possible by one of their sponsors Shamin Hotels. The contest is for both screenwriters and directors, the winning submissions will have their work produced in December and debuted at the Festival in March, along with access to the festival, IMDB credit, and a cash prize package. As a director, I knew this was a contest I would want to take part in.

The contest started with a call to all screenwriters to submit a short screenplay based on the given theme of "pay it forward" and a few other details, based on the the backstory of the Shamin family and business. Once the winning screenplay was selected (the winner is Kathryne Isabelle Easton for her script "The Hospitality Effect") RIFF then put out an announcement for director's to submit their vision of how they would tell this story. The requirement's for the director submission were storyboards illustrating how the story would be told, and a one page Director's Vision Statement, articulating the vision the storyboards conveyed, as well as any additional technical/sound/editing techniques. I had only 10 days to submit before the deadline, and boy was I nervous! 

Firstly, I have never done a storyboard before. I studied them in film school and why they are useful for filmmaking, but I am no artist, so I've never completed one personally. RIFF specified that they could be completed electronically or hand-drawn, and because I don't have any storyboard software, I drew out the entire 10-page script; which came out to be 6 pages of storyboards with 36 hand-drawn frames. This took me about 7 days to complete. Whew! Like I said, I'm no artist. But you don't have to be Michelangelo to draw storyboards, and I really started to enjoy the process, it was very helpful to begin drawing out my ideas rather then just trying to verbally explain them to someone (my usual process.) I could show what the shot should look like, camera angles and movement, character movement within a scene, even character, all within these small frames. It was amazing, and really convinced me of how necessary and beneficial storyboarding can be for a project; both for getting my ideas as a director out in a visual way, and in a way for others to visually see my inspiration. 

The second requirement for submission was the Director's Vision Statement. Again, this was not something I had formally ever been asked to do before. I've verbally given my vision statement many times before on a project to my cast and crew, but I had never been asked to write one out. I had to Google examples to first to make sure I was doing it correctly before I completed it. A Director's Vision Statement, written out, specifying your vision, identifying your protagonist/antagonist, your theme and when the story is taking place, then going into more specific details on how some of the technical aspects might be handled with camera and movement, and how you might like to see it edited/sound etc...is a very useful tool. Writing it out to present is so much more concise and efficient and productive then just having it bottled up in your head, to then blurt out to your cast and crew and hope they can comprehend it all. Usually it's all done within one page, so it's a lot to fit in but it helps you get everything across without saying too much. I found this incredibly helpful in sharing my vision, keeping it straightforward and concise, and again, a brilliant tool in directing that I think I will continue to use in my future projects.

Now everything has been submitted and I am eagerly awaiting the outcome. It would be wonderfully amazing if I was selected as the winning director for this contest, and was able to go to Richmond to shoot this short film in December, from my vision, to be premiered at the fest in March. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, as they promised to tell us within the next day or two the winning selection. 

If I am not the chosen director, then at least I learned to storyboard and writer a proper vision statement, which will undoubtedly help me on my future endeavors. Always look to the bright side of things, right?

-NDB

 Storyboard for "The Hospitality Effect", screenplay by Kathryne Isabelle Easton. For RIFF Short Film Contest, Director Submission.  October 2013_Noel Day Bishop

Storyboard for "The Hospitality Effect", screenplay by Kathryne Isabelle Easton. For RIFF Short Film Contest, Director Submission.

October 2013_Noel Day Bishop

 Director's Vision Statement for "The Hospitality Effect" for RIFF Short Film Contest  October 2013_Noel Day Bishop

Director's Vision Statement for "The Hospitality Effect" for RIFF Short Film Contest

October 2013_Noel Day Bishop

Documentary Research

Today I'm going to start diving into doing more research on how to get one of the two feature-length documentaries I'm writing and wanting to direct, made. I have the concept and idea, I have the crew at my fingertips, all I need is the funding (duh duh duhhhhhh). Like all films, and definitely with small, independent documentaries, funding is often the final frontier to conquer before bringing your brilliant idea to actuality. 

I'm thinking most of my funding will come from grants (grants for women, grants for documentary films, grants for female filmmakers, grants for art), and maybe funding from historical societies that might be interested in what my documentary will unveil as we make our way across the United States and search within the history of its dilapidated remains (I'm being purposefully vague, I can't give away the whole film so someone with more money than me can steal my idea and actually go get it made now can I?!!)  

Today is all about getting on-line and starting what I know will be a lengthy research process in trying to find out where I can start finding this funding. Here are some of my ideas: 

HBO Inc. is known for it's ballsy and cutting edge programming, often in it's mini-series television, but also in its feature-length films, narratives as well as documentaries. Some of them they acquired for distribution from film festivals, and some of them they commission from the filmmakers themselves to be made specifically for their own programming. Could this be a possibility for me? It would be a dream for my film to be chosen to be featured as a documentary on HBO, and their diverse taste and respect to a variety of subjects makes me think that I have a fighting chance. I'm already taking a huge leap of faith trying to write and direct my first feature documentary at the age of 26, why not shoot for HBO as it's financier, distributor and eventual home? It would be a dream. Here's some of their recent documentaries I've watched from HBO's documentary section that have been amazing and inspirational:

Miss You Can Do It a documentary film showcasing young mentally and physically disabled girls competing in a beauty pageant hosted by Miss Iowa 2008, the first  winning beauty pageant star to have a disability. 

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer a documentary film chronicling the lives of three members of the Russian punk rock feminist art collective Pussy Riot. After they perform 40 seconds of one of their songs in a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow they are arrested and spend months in jail fighting for their rights as women, as performers, and for justice in the evidently unjust legal system that is plaguing Russia today. 

Okay...now back to researching....

Looking For Inspiration....

Today, all was slow on the casting front (a project I'm currently working on as an associate producer/casting director for local and national TV commercials in association with a production company in L.A, and one here in NYC for the client Wal-Mart) so I decided to watch some videos on good 'ole Vimeo to get some inspiration for my own projects I'm currently in pre-production for. I feel like I have writers block...but I'm not writing them...I just needed some visual, artistic, "this is why I want to make films" kind of inspiration. And as usual, Vimeo was a great resource. Here's some of what I watched that I loved today. 

Holocene by Bon Iver: Music Video

Great band, great song, beautiful music video. And a great example of a music video that tells a story without it going along exactly to what the lyrics in the song are about (not that you can understand anything lead singer Justin Vernon is saying anyways). I like music videos that think outside of the box like this. 

Gulp: World's Largest Stop-Motion Animation short, filmed on a Nokia N8 cell phone

Can't believe this was all shot on a cell-phone!!! 

Gulp: The Making Of

Self-explainatory I think, and so cool to see how they did it!! Amazing what talent, an idea, the guts to try to make it happen, and technology can do.  

 New Romance by Miles Fisher: Music Video

I'm a big fan of Miles Fisher, he is an unconventional artist that always has the most crazy but unique and ballsy music videos for his incredibly catchy songs. How is he not more famous??!! 

Hermanos Inglesos feat. MeMe-Wanderland

I remember seeing this video for the first time at Vimeo's first ever Fest + Awards a couple summers ago and just totally loving it. The song is awesome, the animation is great, the story is fantastic and cute and pushes boundaries at the same time as you basically follow a little robin on his acid-like trip after eating a wild berry. It has always stuck in my mind since that first viewing, and I was happy to come across it again today. Still as good as I remembered it. Give it a watch.  

Unlocking the Truth: Malcolm Brickhouse and Jarad Dawkins

This is a really great little documentary short about two kids from Brooklyn who are in a rock/metal band together, and I like this video because it showcases the band and their talents, as well as the kids and their personalities, which brings forth larger topics that can relate to a variety of people of all ages/ethnicities etc...so it's a likable film for almost anyone watching it. This was a great inspiration for a little project Graham, my boyfriend and co-collaborator/DP will soon be working on. Stay tuned for that..... :) (P.S: visit Graham's website here for more of his/our work: coolburns.com

 Storytelling the Stillmotion Way: Part 1

Storytelling the Stillmotion Way: Part 2

This is what I was really looking for all day, and where I'll end today's post. This series of videos, in two parts, is a fantastic how-to on pre-production for a film. I've done successful pre-production many times on several different projects of different types (media), lengths, budgets, cast and crew sizes etc...but after I watched this short series it really helped me see how to even better initially organize myself, my thoughts and ideas, and then my team so that we can be even more efficient and make sure that the time we're spending getting things done is on track with what we're looking to accomplish, and nothing is being wasted. This is what I wanted to watch, again, today, this time taking copious notes :) Have a watch for yourself, you filmmakers out there! It will make your workflow so much more streamlined and seem even, dare I say, easy. Or do-able at least. Which starting out on my first feature-length documentary, as I am in the process of doing now, doesn't immediately seem so "do-able". But it is. It will be. 

With love and good luck,  Noël Day Bishop  07.24.2013