Storyboards for a Short Film About Dualities

It was my pleasure to create these concept images for a short film that explores the lives of two men from very different circumstances, brought together by one luxury condo.

concept artist noir film architecture

The film follows a young real estate broker who is just about to make his big break in the industry by selling this fantastic, light-filled property. Unbeknownst to him, another man may interrupt his fate. A columbian immigrant without papers finds refuge in the apartment, living there at night while disappearing during the day. Their two lives collide.

The Client had simply asked me to show the two men in a luxury apartment. The 1st man in day time, surrounded by guests, while the 2nd man stood alone in the apartment at night.

initial storyboard sketch
This was my first storyboard sketch. It was wide and meant to show how overpowering/dominating the space was compared with the two men. The Client decided they wanted the characters to be larger.

What came to mind initially was for me to draw a wide shot– showing the men in full body in the center of the space. But as I thought about it more, I liked the idea of orienting the viewer’s position behind the two men instead of having the viewer looking directly at them. By placing the viewer behind the actors, it feels more like the viewer is being “put in their shoes” so that they are looking at these two characters’ differing worldviews. Two very different perspectives of the same situation. The film was really all about perspective, and I wanted to capture the spirit of the film by going a little deeper with this illustration.

storyboard in progress
This was the second draft, where I simply reframed the two men. After approval, I went in with the details.

The behind-the-head angle has a kind of “Enter the Void” vibe, a movie that was also ALL about perspective, though perhaps in a much darker sense.

When drawing in the guests for the top image, I wanted to keep them vague, like a memory. They were meant to be shadow-like, impressions of people instead of solid, detailed representations. It represents the passage of time, and shows that the character’s mind is elsewhere.

storyboard with details or an apartment
Here, you can see a work in progress. I actually went in and colored the entire space as it would look in balanced light before overlaying the lighting effects on top. Drawing this apartment interior shot was really like becoming an architect and interior designer.

Below, I played around with dramatic lighting, and intentionally added in these ominous “searchlight” lights in the room. The man lurks in the shadows, avoiding the light– afraid of being found out and deported. The lighting is reminiscent of stories of immigrants crossing the border between the United States and Mexico, running in the pitch darkness in the middle of the night, hoping to get across without being seen. I wanted the second image to be a stark contrast to the first, even though it’s the same space. If you look at the ceiling in the top image, you can see that the conical lights are already in place, and angled in the same direction that the lighting originates in the second image. It’s important to be consistent with the logic of a space or setting.

The hunched body language of the 2nd man displays how unsure and cautious he is. The upright posture of the 1st man shows his eagerness and by-the-book attitude. With illustration and storyboarding, just as much characterization can be conveyed with body language and mannerism as it can with facial expression. It amazes me how many scripts include facial ticks to show emotion, and exclude the rest of the body as if the audience will only be looking at the actor’s head. The way an actor walks can convey as much as a smile or a smirk, and I enjoy showing that in my storyboard and illustration works for film.

Need storyboards, beat boards, key frames, or concept art? Contact Lee at lee.milby@gmail.com for a quote.

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