Bad Drawings Of Good Ideas

New Adventures in Storyboarding

Hello, Sternal Journalists!

As we know from my beefcake Ezra Klein project, I am pretty bad at drawing. But I take a real pleasure in boldly scribbling away over something that I know is going to wind up looking like an overachieving 6th grader drew as an extra credit title page for their first ever book report about a chapter book1.

However, drawing has always been so low-stakes because it’s never been connected to any of the creative fields in which I’m trying to make millions of dollars. It was purely a hobby.

But recently, I’ve been prepping a movie with my dear friend and collaborator, Matt Shapiro. You may remember our work from classics like Charles Schmidt Barbara Finishes LBJ

And while donning old man makeup to basically do a joke where Robert Caro is saying “El BJ” a lot is truthfully so near and dear to me heart, this next thing we’re working on has the potential to be even nearer and dearer.

So, to be as prepared as I can possibly be, I’ve started storyboarding. Storyboarding, if you don’t know, is basically drawing pictures of the way you want your movie to look before you ever pick up the camera.

And, Sternal Journalists, I was worried that this might ruin drawing for me! That this process could turn into a big ball of stress and make me wish I was actually good at drawing because if I was good at drawing, maybe I would be better at storyboarding, and then better prepared to make this thing that I plan and hope to be proud of.

But I trudged ahead. And sure enough, some drawings were very bad:

But, some I was a little bit proud of:

And some, I was even proud of while also thinking they were very bad!

But most importantly, at no point did I regret being bad at drawing. My confidence in my bad drawing is undefeated.

With that in mind, and the undefeated confidence in my heart, I wanted to share my favorite page of storyboarding so far.

Something you’ll oftener filmmakers obnoxiously say on screenwriting podcasts is “aspiring screenwriters need to remember that film is a visual medium.”

This is their obnoxious2 way of saying, “Hey, make sure you’re not writing a novel. We have to actually know what we’ll be looking at.” Which is fair enough advice, and it’s the skill I’m trying to strengthen the most on this project.

And this little segment is the one that has, so far in this project, made me most feel most like I’m at least attempting to make sure I’m making all those obnoxious screenwriting podcast guests happy.

While I don’t wanna give away the whole thing just yet (I’ll save that for when I’m trying to sell you on investing in it in a couple weeks), the project has a lot to do with a grandson and grandmother as they both reckon with her dementia.

It’s based on real experiences and not exactly a comedy, but not without comedy. This small scene is just a grandson trying to get his grandma’s wheelchair out of the trunk while the grandma has her own plans.

Here’s the scene in script form:

And then here are my storyboards:

(Literally) end scene! I always knew that I pictured this as a single shot with some slapstick vibes even for how sad of a topic it is, but I always had trouble describing it, and didn’t think it totally came off on the page. But voila! Storyboarding saves the day! Or at least gives me pictures I can point to that say “This is what I’m thinking. Does this look like anything to you? Can you read my drawing?”

So that’s all--as is the Sternal Journal way--a long way of saying that I highly recommend storyboarding, and generally shoehorning your mediums into other mediums to see what you learn.3

Recommendations

“Control.” Poem. My main boy Ben Kassoy is at it again with a poem published in One Sentence Poems. Click through and love and generally hop on his talent early, but to lure you, I particularly love “and I’ve stuffed my stocking/ with the delusion of control,/ like making the bed/ three hundred times a day.”

Officiating a Wedding. Life activity. I did it this weekend. It was a blast. Happy re-nuptials, F+J!

American Crime Story: Impeachment. Television. This new installment in the Ryan Murphy-produced anthology series, following seasons that covered the O.J. Simpson Trial and Gianni Versace’s assassination, is all about the impeachment surrounding Bill Clinton’s involvement with Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones in the 90s. Only one episode is out, but I’m a sucker for ACS and a sucker for anything that’s D.C.-nostalgic (even if the nostalgia points to ugly things that happened in D.C.), so I’m all in!

Until next week, much love!

Julian

1

relatable?

2

Is it actually that obnoxious? No. But it’s one of those answers people give when they don’t have a good answer, but don’t want to say nothing, and… cowardice in interviews is obnoxious.

3

(Even though we all know screenwriting is a visual medium anyway, of course.)