An Exclusive Interview with Steve Werblun:
Storyboard Artist for "Because of Winn-Dixie"
Pictured above (left) storyboard artist Steve Werblun;
(right) Opal reading to her dog in a scene from "Because of Winn-Dixie"
For some time now, I have been enamored of the film "Because of
(Walden Media adapted
the novel into a wonderful film, which I hope you've seen.)
As a media educator, I teach teachers about media literacy and the language of
Understanding the language of film is important for both teachers and
I searched in vain for the name of the person who drew the storyboards for the
I wanted to show teachers and students what an actual movie storyboard looks
I finally sent an email to a list serve of artists and within a few days I had
from Steve Werblun, who told me about his
background and his involvement
in "Because of Winn-Dixie." The scene that I was interested in
(when Opal meets
Winn Dixie) was one of 4 scenes in the film he storyboarded. He agreed to an
and so this is it. I hope you enjoy it.
Interview: Part One
How did you learn about this particular project ("Because of Winn-Dixie")?
SW: This project...like all other projects...came to me through the Agency
represents me, Famous Frames, Inc. They are the #1 Agency in the world that
provides artists of all kinds to both the Advertising and Film communities,
the globe. You can log onto
www.famousframes.com for more information. They
have represented me since their inception in 1987.
In a typical situation, the Director will select 2 or 3 Artists from our
(and credits...), then they'll have their Producer contact our agent, Mitch
at Famous Frames, and request a meeting with each of the artists chosen. After
Director has met personally with each of the artists, he makes his
how it works. And that was exactly how it worked with "Because Of Winn-Dixie".
FB: Walk me through
the process, because as much as I think I may know about it, it's
probably different with every artist and film. What happens first? Do you sit
director and the screenplay and spend a lot of time in discussions?
SW: First of all, the Storyboard Artist is usually the very first member
of the creative
team to come on board and get to work. The first thing I do is read the
(you can never get the whole thing on just one reading...just exactly how much
may be involved...).
Then, if the Director has any specific instructions...I'll make notes
and then I begin to break down the scenes (as many as are requested...and
most Directors have been requesting that I storyboard EVERY scene in their
that's a lot of work for one artist. However, it seems to be the trend because
been the case on the last 6 movies that I've worked on...). And I create a
thumbnails (tiny drawings...) directly onto the script page, breaking the
into specific shots and camera moves. These tiny sketches are extremely
and in some situations...as in "Winn-Dixie"...that's what we used for the
boards...enlargements of my tiny thumbnails. But, once the Director reviews my
thumbnails and approves them...and they rarely have any changes to make...
then I take them to the next level.
And at that next level...if there's enough time (and money...), I'll take
thumbnails, and redraw them much larger and much more fully detailed. And
then, those pages are placed in sequence, and placed in a binder...and that
acts as a blueprint for the entire film...or for the specific scenes required.
In the past, filmmakers have always had the storyboard artists create
scenes, as well as all of the visual effects sequences. But as I mentioned
lately I've been asked to storyboard the ENTIRE movie! In fact, I'm not only
on one now (a boxing drama out of Ireland, entitled,
"Strength And Honor"...),
I've already been contracted to do another (entire...)film immediately
one (from the same Director in Ireland...). So, it appears as though this
See Steve Werblun's storyboards from "Because of Winn Dixie"
of my interview