Techniques for getting your crew and yourself on the same page ahead of production.
Film is a visual language – and expressing yourself in that language is not just about what you say, but how you say it. Collecting references is a great way to articulate what you want to express – for you, and for the people you’re working with.
Examples can help to both nourish your vision and communicate that vision to your collaborators – not necessarily literal images from your story, but more general elements: colours, aesthetics, textures, props, costumes, lighting…
Stills and Scenes
Many of the best-known films steal from films before them. A great way to prepare is to collect stills and specific scenes from movies that have done things you want to do – or want to do differently:
Theme, Character, Tone
- Theme – informs choices such as locations, production design and overall style
- Character – personality and past (“who”, outside the story) inform action, dialogue, performance, wardrobe and more (“why”, inside the story)
- Tone – a playlist to listen to, and a lookbook to look at, to help create a feeling during writing, which in turn informs the other two boards, Theme and Character
What’s the difference between taking inspiration from, stealing from, and adding to the conversation about other movies? We look at ways famous directors reference other films:
When your visuals are in service of a story, it helps to clarify the beats of the story by putting together a beat sheet: