Sunday, July 25, 2010

JAVCON Day 5: EL MUERTO movie storyboards

Hello Javcon attendees! 

I mentioned in the beginning that I'd share some never-before-seen artwork from my archives. Well, I think these qualify...

Back in 2003-2004, while the script for the EL MUERTO movie was being written, I asked my director, Brian Cox, if I could take a crack at storyboarding. This was during a very early draft of the script, so obviously things would change in  the story. But I really did it as an excercise for myself, as I'd never created storyboards for a movie.

First thing that struck me was the obvious similarity to drawing a comic, in that you're sequentially telling a story visually. Here though, I'm interpreting a story that's going to be filmed with actors, and all the limitations and advantages that conveys. At the time, we weren't considering any casting, so I basically drew the characters as they appeared in my comic. Diego/Muerto, girlfriend Maria, best friend Zack and the god of death, Miclantecuhtli.

The other thing that struck me was drawing certain sequences, like the car crash/sacrifice scene, as I was interpreting a scripted scene based on a sequence in a comic book I created a few years previously. It was deja vu on the drawing board!

As I got to the end of my storyboards, a new draft of the script was finished. Once I read it, I saw that the film was morphing from the original ending I was working from. So at that point, I decided to stop working on the storyboards, as it was just an exercise for myself. Brian actually worked with his cinematographer to block out the scenes themselves, so they didn't actually work from storyboards. I was really impressed with the way the film was shot, so I didn't have any regrets about not having mine used.

Here's the sequence where Diego heads out to the Dia de Los Muertos festival and gets in an accident, sending him to Mictlan, the Azted underworld. There he gets sacrificed and sent back to Earth. It ends as Diego walks into the cemetery and bumps into the 'Man in Costume' (the little cameo role I snagged for myself!). As surreal as it could be at times drawing my characters for a movie script, drawing myself into the film (literally and figuratively) was a total kick in the head!

One thing I found amusing was when I told my producer, Larry Rattner, that I was working on storyboarding. He commented that it's not the norm for the author of the source material to storyboard his own movie. Well, that's one of the many advantages of being a cartoonist!

As an extra bonus, here are three more pieces. I also created, at my director's request, the artwork for the title cards. Brian actually wanted the head shot of El Muerto, as he had seen a sketch of it on the cover of a limited edition preview book I printed up in 2004. Seeing these images up on movie screens was quite a thrill, I gotta tell you.


gonzalexx said...

Enjoyed this thoroughly. I've been thinking of storyboarding for a comic lately, and seeing your work is pure inspiration, Jav.
Thanks for sharing.

Javier Hernandez said...

Thanks. I think all of us as artists get some type of inspiration from one another. And it was nice to be able to share these, as the whole process of doing the storyboards was such a unique experience for me!