Film School: Storyboards and ‘Parasite’

Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Storyboards Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Storyboards

A look at how blueprints can work for a film – and for us as filmmakers.

“If Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho is anxious about the work he does,” opines Thomas Flight, “then you and I can take comfort in the fact that having anxiety about our work doesn’t mean we lack the skill.”

Bong Joon Ho’s detailed storyboards were a fundamental part of the meticulousness of his film, Parasite (2019). Thomas Flight takes lessons – and comfort – from the director’s process:

  1. You can always simplify – storyboards may contain more detail, only to be streamlined once on set
  2. Focus on the key elements – actor position, actor movement, camera movement. Other details need only be established in one panel
  3. No detail is too subtle to include – especially if it’s important to story or character
  4. The storyboards are the crew’s playbook – diagram both the what and how of every camera movement, and every character’s position
  5. You don’t have to draw everything – use photographs of actual locations where scenes will be shot
  6. Think like an editor – “storyboars [are] essentially pre-editing the film”; be careful not to storyboard things that are impossible to shoot
  7. Have fun while you storyboard – Bong Joon Ho draws devil horns on his characters “when they’re being bad”
  8. Storyboard to relieve your anxiety – I’d add that: production costs money, but planning is free

Further Viewing

Kevin from RocketJump Film School offers an introduction to the language and possibilities of storyboarding:

More examples from other movies, from Storyboard to Film:

There’s so much more great commentary on Parasite – here are roundups of the mini film school that Parasite inspired and a bunch more video responses: