Updated: Dec 15, 2019
The week of Thanksgiving, my husband and I attended Film Bar Mondays, in Decatur. Film Bar Mondays is “a weekly gathering of crew, filmmakers, animators, actors, film lovers and those who want to hang with creative folk at local bars. Film Bar Mondays is foremost about connecting and creating community and the goal is about building relationships.” While we were there, we had the chance to chat with several industry professionals including the storyboard artist for the hit Netflix Series, Raising Dion.
Below, is an interview conducted by Atlanta Film and TV with Storyboard Artist, Michael Gable Marynell!
Atlanta Film and TV: What interested you in becoming a storyboard artist?
Michael Gable Marynell: I went to Ringling College of Art and Design for computer animation and they taught us about story and storyboarding sophomore year. We were required to come up with our own stories, then storyboard them, then put those into an animatic with sound. In this area, I noticed a lot of kids struggled with it but I found that I had a bit of a knack for it and started helping the other students. Once I started getting more into the computer animation degree I disliked it more and more but I still liked the storytelling aspect and drawing the boards. The concept of being able to create the first visual representation of a story was extremely exciting to me. Developing shots, designing camera moves, controlling almost every aspect of content was a lot of and close to the zenith of the creative process. I knew by the end of my junior year that I wanted to pursue a career in storyboarding, specifically in live-action. Storyboarding is a very underrated and incredibly important part of the industry. It’s the essential visual blueprint for a script.
Atlanta Film and TV: How did you break into the industry?
Michael Gable Marynell: I’m not sure I would consider it a “break” into the industry, more of a slow bend, haha. Once I graduated, I had to decide on whether I was going to go straight to LA or give this Atlanta thing a shot. While I was in Sarasota at Ringling, I started watching The Walking Dead, my senior year, and I knew absolutely nothing about it, except that it was about zombies. During the first episode when Rick was driving down a remote highway, I kept asking myself “Why does this area look so familiar?” These look like Georgia roads.” So I researched the show, and sure enough, not only did the show take place in and around Atlanta, but also it was filmed there. It was around that moment that I saw an opportunity to try my hand in this up and coming film capital of the South. So I moved to Atlanta after graduating in 2011. I started making calls, doing Internet searches and going to networking events as much as possible. However, what got me in I guess was I responded to a Craigslist ad for an extra role and I got it. Turns out it was for Robert Zemeckis’ Flight starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman. I ended up being the photo double for Brian Geraghty who played the Co-Pilot. Long story short, while I was there I met Bill Johnson, a local special effects make-up artist, and I started training with him which led me to become an apprentice with Andre Freitas at AFX Studios. During my time with Andre, he started a production company called Bug Out Bag Studios. He picked up an independent film called Remnants starring Tom Sizemore and he needed storyboards for it. I ended up hand-drawing all of the boards pulling late nights at his studio in Marietta. It was my first IMDB credit.
Atlanta Film and TV: What was the first animation you worked on as a storyboard artist and did you draw by hand or computer?
Michael Gable Marynell: Hard to say technically, I haven’t done much animation related stuff since college. I had to storyboard and produce an animatic with sound for my senior thesis, which was a 3 min 3d animated short film. Since then I have just done some small things, mostly prepro work and producing material to help promote and sell individuals IPs to be animated.
Atlanta Film and TV: How did you get involved with the Netflix series Raising Dion and what is your involvement with the series now?
Michael Gable Marynell: In 2018, after working on a film Through the Glass Darkly, starring Robyn Lively (Blake Lively’s aunt and Shanola Hampton (Vee from Shameless), I submitted the work I did on that film to Storyboard Inc. and was accepted into their roster. Storyboard Inc. is a female owned and operated company in California that represents Storyboard Artists around the world. My representative, Michelle, contacted me one day about a Netflix show filming in Atlanta and the next thing I know I’m doing 8 out of the 9 episodes. It was a wonderful and exciting experience with lovely and talented people. I’m very grateful to the production and Storyboard Inc.
Atlanta Film and TV: I’ve only watched a few episodes of Raising Dion, and loved the animation! How were those scenes filmed?
Michael Gable Marynell: Well, Raising Dion is a live-action series but because it surrounds a kid with superpowers, there are A LOT of visual effects and VFX almost always has to be storyboarded just like animation. The biggest difference in boards for animation vs. live action is mainly that the boards for animation have a greater amount of breakdowns to visualize and map out the motion and action for the animators to make sure it serves the story… Because story is king and always will/should be. It’s a lot more work and usually focuses more on the action in the frame. So the storyboard artist also has to do a large amount of the acting/animation so it’s laid out nicely for when it gets approved and sent to the animators.
Atlanta Film and TV: What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone who wants to break into the industry as a Storyboard Artist?
Michael Gable Marynell: Good question. First I would go and buy a book called Shot by Shot, which is the storyboard artist’s bible. Then I would network like crazy, get a website or social media platform just for your art. Start drawing scenes from your favorite or critically acclaimed films and retro engineer them to figure out why they work. Start looking at other artist’s work. I personally love Joe Johnston, Dan Milligan, Jonathan Gesinski (AKA Goose Keeper), and David Hogan just to name a few. You should build a well- rounded portfolio that's easily accessible. Find events that you know Directors, Line Producers, Art Department, and DPs will be attending, go... And just network... Get good at talking to people about what you do, what they do, and learn how to sell yourself and your work. It's half the job if not more. It's not going to happen overnight and you have to want it. I always tell myself, "Time + Effort = Success".
Atlanta Film and TV: Where do you see the Atlanta Film Industry in the next five years?
Michael Gable Marynell: In the past, the industry here was on a steady incline but now having worked in it for almost a decade, I'd call it more finicky. Hollywood is not Atlanta, Atlanta is not Hollywood and a lot of the times they do NOT see eye to eye and it causes issues with the work. Political, regional, and sometimes even religious points get in the way. In my opinion, if Atlanta wants to push past just being a workstation for Hollywood, the city really must find a way to create proprietary content that is nationally and internationally recognized. In other words, we will always be a slave to La-La Land unless we get funding to our local directors and writers so they can produce fresh content HERE, using our own people and crews. Local residents in the industry like Tyler Perry who know the industry and how to invest money could very easily fund a few low budget or independent productions to help the state's industry to become self-sustaining (especially with his impressive new studio). The more success our writers and directors have HERE, the more money comes in; the more money comes in, the more productions can be produced here. It seems simple to me, but what do I know? This is a brutal business and in just a few wrong moves, it will eat you alive, but with the amount of talent in this city and some RIGHT moves then Atlanta could help change that. This is my personal opinion of course but again, what do I know?
For more information on Michael Gable Marynell, be sure to check out his website!