Back in another lifetime I used to create a fair number of storyboards for television commercials. One particular TV 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 wanted 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 guys like me 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 the next 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 lose. That was good, however. My storyboards always had energy and vitality. Then, I would usually use markers to complete the storyboards and the color punched things up and gave the work a finished look. 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 at the studio. I was always amazed at how closely the live-action directors followed my storyboards almost shot for shot. The same staging, composition and even the cutting. In many ways, I almost felt as if I had directed the commercial myself. It appears I was doing all the work while a “director” was being paid the big bucks. Oh, well. 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.

I had so much fun storyboarding television commercials when I was a much younger man. Of course, you had to be young to keep up this pace.

I had so much fun storyboarding television commercials when I was a much younger man. Of course, you had to be young to keep up this pace.

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AuthorFloyd Norman