The Sixth Sense could not have been made without storyboarding.
M. Night Shyamalan reveals that storyboarding is his favorite part of the film-making process because of the level of control that he has while storyboarding, which is interesting because so many directors hate it. It's one of the processes that I've always almost feared because I want to pursue a career in film-making, but I can't draw at all. But one of the things that I liked about this short documentary was that it showed how important the process is and erased a lot of my apprehension of the process because Shyamalan works with a man who specializes in storyboarding, and it is clearly an invaluable part of the film-making process.
Shyamalan points out that while you're on set, you just don't have time to ponder different angles or different ways to frame each shot, because you have 250 extras standing around, the stars waiting in their trailers, etc. The money is being spent at a tremendous rate in that situation, and the more decisions you can have already made, the better. The idea is to draw out every shot in the scene, to make a shooting script that is literally the very images that will be seen in the film.
This is, of course, nothing new, but the documentary starts out with a few wonderful dissolves from the storyboard to the corresponding scene in the film. It's not hard to understand the importance of storyboarding, because it allows a way to map out the entire movie before you have anyone standing around on the payroll; it clearly makes the shooting process, the most expensive process in film-making, go a lot faster.
At one point Shyamalan talks about how, during storyboarding, if they decide that a certain shot looks cool, they throw it out because they are not just going for a cool looking movie, they want more than that. Shallow focus, for example, is a beautiful thing to look at, but if they were to use it there had to be more reason to use it than just because of aesthetic appeal. When it is used in the film, it is used as what he calls a very specific human moment, which fits with their intention to make the movie as realistic as possible as far as the real world that Cole lives in.
Speaking of which, while he is explaining this he mentions that he's thinking of a specific director who makes movies in a way that when you watch them, you're really just watching acrobatics. Anyone have any thoughts about who that director might be? At any rate, this short documentary can be found on the Vista Series edition of The Sixth Sense, along with two other wonderful documentaries (Reflections from the Set and Between Two Worlds), all three of which have received astoundingly low user ratings on the IMDb, which I continue to be perplexed by. At the time of this writing, voters have limited their opinions to voting numerically and not writing reviews, so no explanation is given for such low votes, but my current theory is a simple lack of reason for backing them up because, along with the other short videos found on the original Sixth Sense DVD (with the exception of the two TV spots, which are foolishly scored by a Marilyn Manson cover of I Put A Spell On You. I'm the biggest Marilyn Manson fan you'll find, but the song was completely wrong for the movie), all of these documentaries give wonderful insight into the movie. If you manage to get your hands on the Vista Series, don't miss them.
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