I was born with a pencil in my hand, or so the story goes! Ever since I can remember drawing has been a vital part of my life. It’s something I have been doing all my life. Drawing was the tool which helped me communicate with others. In 1977 when I stepped off the plane from Santo Domingo, I knew not a word of English and drawing was how I communicated. I was born here in the United States, but was raised in the island of Santo Domingo and did not speak English.
My family has stories of me drawing on walls; on the furniture and doodling on my father’s college books. In school, I was constantly in hot water because all I wanted to do was draw.
Today, I still draw. I am a Storyboard Artist. My job is to take a script and a story and illustrate it and bring it to life! I meet with the director and try to see what is in his head. A storyboard is similar to a Comic Book, where you have sequential images that tell a story. I love movies and I love to draw so I am very happy doing what I do.
For people interested in doing Storyboards, the first thing I would suggest is putting up an easy-to-navigate website that shows your best storyboard work. If you do not have any professional experience yet, just put up any samples that you do have. When a client calls, be honest with them if they ask you what project the sample work is from. If it is not from an actual job, then just say so. Do not let your lack of experience become an issue. Try to promote yourself and find an agent if you can. There are agencies like Storyboards Inc. or Famous Frames that are always looking for new talent. Storyboard agents are not absolutely necessary. It depends on what city you live in. If you are in a smaller market town, you may want to have an agent to see if it works for you.
Professional storyboard artists charge $600 per day and higher. It is up to you to know the value of your work. Rates are listed in The Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. It is published every year by the Graphic Artists Guild. When a client contacts you about your rates, get all the details you can and be able to tell the client how many frames you are able to do in a day or how long it will take you to complete the project. Negotiating the rate is something that you will have to get a personal feel for, and finally you have to draw well, so whenever you get a chance practice your story boarding skills. There are many books and videos out there full of useful information. Many DVDs also have special features, and of course the web is full of resources and examples.
Robert Castillo is a Storyboard Artist who lives in New Jersey and works in New York City. He graduated with honors from The Art Institute of Boston and has a Master’s Degree in Computer Arts from The School of Visual Arts.
As a storyboard artist, Robert has created boards for films including Lee Daniel’s “Precious”, the Christopher Reeve’s directed animation Everyone’s Hero, Queen Latifahs “The Cookout” and “Perfect Holiday” and the award-winning cable television programs The Sopranos, and Smash.
He has also done music videos for Alicia Keys, Ja Rule, Kid Rock, Lauren Hill and Don Omar; commercials for Phat Farm, Adidas, And 1; as well as promo work and music videos for MTV, Nickelodeon’s Ironman, Fuse, VH1, Court TV and ESPN.
His talent has been recognized with various awards and honors, including L. Ron Hubbard’s Illustrators of the Future and The Student Academy Awards in 2004 for his short film S.P.I.C. The Storyboard of My Life which has screened in fourteen festivals including Cannes and The Museum of Modern Art. In 2005, S.P.I.C. had a special screening at TIME Magazine in New York and at Walt Disney Studios. Robert has also lectured on “The Art of Storyboards” at NYU Tisch and Jersey City University.
Robert has given back by auctioning his artwork for The John Starks Foundation as well as Project Sunshine. He also volunteers his time with The Ghetto Film School in the Bronx, Mount Sinai Hospital and The Automotive High School of Brooklyn.
With the advancement of the digital age, combining multiple platforms and formats to tell a story is becoming a new and successful way to engage audiences. Often referred to as transmedia storytelling, it combines creative, technical and business qualities to create a new and unique experience for the viewer. The MediaShift article “How Transmedia Storytelling Could Revolutionize Documentary Filmmaking“, explains how this combination of media is an emerging avenue for documentary filmmakers. It allows them to enhance their documentary’s message, while providing ways to partner with companies that are able to help fund their film. Transmedia also helps reach new audiences by turning something that was once static, into something that is engaging and a fundamental experience.
Transmedia is ever evolving and embracing the digital allows for film and other media to reach its greatest potential.