Storyboarding for Television

Back in another lifetime I used to create a fair number of storyboards for television commercials. One particular production house in Hollywood seemed to like my storyboards and continually sent work my way. The producers and directors were great to work with and they even paid me in a timely manner. There was one drawback, however. They seemed to want every job at the last minute.

Why should I be surprised, eh? That's the television business, after all. Even more so when it comes to advertising. Clients have the habit of making up their minds at the last minute and they want everything done as if the staffers were miracle workers. So, there was nothing left for us to do except work miracles. Lucky for me I was a young man back then with boundless energy. Energy I knew I would need to complete the impossible deadlines.

Here's how it works. I get a phone call early evening from my producer, Chuck who would always need a storyboard by morning. Sometimes I would rush to the Hollywood office, but in time we simply went over the script on the telephone. After going over Chuck's notes, I would begin my series of rough storyboards. Since the boards had to be done quickly I would work rough and loose. I always used magic markers to complete the storyboards and the color usually gave the work a finished look. No computers in those days. Everything was drawn on paper. After my all nighter I would begin pasting up the storyboards at dawn and by eight o'clock I would begin my long drive to Hollywood to deliver the boards so the client could view them that morning.

Weeks later, I would view the finished television commercial in one of the screening rooms of the studio. I was always amazed at how closely the directors followed my storyboards almost shot by shot. The same staging, composition and even the cutting. In many ways, I almost felt as if I had directed the commercial myself. Doing television commercials is not as glamorous as working on big time Hollywood feature films and the hours were not always the best. But, looking back on that time I can sure say I had a pretty good time.