If you love comics and moving pictures, then being a storyboard artist—a storyboard artist for
The man with that job is William Simpson, a comic artist from Northern Ireland who has worked on huge projects like Batman, Judge Dredd, Transformers and Hellblazer. William has drawn King’s Landing hundreds, perhaps thousands of times, and recently the Herceg Novi comic strip festival brought him to Dubrovnik—the shooting location that commonly stands in for King’s Landing—as a guest. For Simpson, who has drawn the place intimately and inside-out for so many seasons, the opportunity to see the ramparts for real was truly exciting.
Simpson has been storyboarding Dubrovnik locations since Season 2, and though he had never visited Dubrovnik until recently, the
directors gave him plenty of photographs of the locations and his imagination took off from there.
I remember having to create the Red Keep and I received some great photos of the Lovrijenac Fortress so it wasn’t too hard to imagine. What
does so well with Dubrovnik is they use the beauty of the city and then just add onto that with computer generated graphics. When you see Dubrovnik in the series it seems like you are looking at a whole different place, and yet at the same time Dubrovnik is clearly recognizable.
Some sequences don’t need storyboards, while others require titanic amounts of creative effort.
I must say that the directors of the series have been in this business for years and have a wealth of experience. So some scenes I am asked to storyboard and some not. For example the Red Wedding scene that was shot in Dubrovnik wasn’t storyboarded at all. This was a very elaborate scene, the director asked me to storyboard scenes before and after the Red Wedding, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do and didn’t ask me for a storyboard. And in comparison to that the drawing of the Black Water Bay battle scene took up a solid month of my life.
Simpson will begin working on the storyboards for Season 7 in June or July of 2016. He spends a lot of time with the show’s directors and staff so he hears a lot of whispers about the future of the series, but he seems to be as much in the dark about what might be coming after Season 7 as the rest of us, though he has heard rumors of Seasons 9 and 10, and 2 HBO movies:
The simple answer is that I don’t know if the seventh season will be the last season. Season six will be broadcast in April on this year and I will start working on the storyboards of season seven in June or July. Although I start with my drawings at that time of the year the production starts much earlier, sometime in March. I guess the two producers, David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss, know what way they want the series to end, they are in constant contact with the author George RR Martin. There are so many rumours floating around, but I will only find out when they tell me. I have heard rumours of seasons nine and seasons ten and even two films, but until HBO come out and state that officially we will have to wait.
has always been more hands-off on the television series than many people might expect:
George has very little to do with the TV series. He’s much more of an advisor. The series is definitely David and Dan’s work. My ideas are usually dictated by the directors of the episodes, except when I’ve been asked to conceptualise something. Then it goes through the producers or the production designer. Nothing’s been banned yet!
Simpson also offers a bit of advice for anyone wanting to become a storyboard artist:
Basically, my job requires you to be a bit of a psychologist, a hypnotist and a clairvoyant, with a great ability to listen and also generate ideas out of the craziest of scenarios!
Simpson’s GoT storyboards collection has been published as a book, and he talks more about the storyboard artist’s life here, where he also recalls his awestruck moment during the opening shot of the first season of
…for me it will always be the opening shot of the first season where the white walkers first appear. That was worked out meticulously with Tim Van Patten, because it had to work. It was going to be shown to executives, and it needed to show how the show could work, that everything was right and it could be done. I was watching it with a friend, and we were flipping through my copies and saying ‘God, this is this, and this is this …’ That was pretty right on.
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Loved this article Richard!! Such a great read!! Never knew William existed or his job! What a fun job and yet totally exhausting I’m sure!!! And to design a storyboard without having visited the places is even more amazing! Thanks!
And in the Q&A Martin said his involvement in the upcoming season was even lower.
Though that probably won’t stop the producers from trying to hide behind Martin.
This season will only be Half of the new book. If we take his “season 9-10” into account which would give him time to complete the books and not spoil the whole thing for both sullied and unsullied and maybe. Just maybe provide time for the last novel … The movies would be prequels
True, season 6 looks to be a blend of unused parts of books 4 and 5, book 6 material and obviously new material for the show as well. It probably won’t even get that far into WoW territory. Season 7 will be full on WoW, book 6 may be out by then… and then it seems like they’re still figuring out where to go from there.
Thanks for the article. Never thought about story boards for this type of show. I guess I thought that story boards were used mainly for cartoons. I can only imagine how difficult to never see a place except for photos and other people’s memories. It does sound possible that we will get more years of the show.
They’re actually widely used in the filming industry. From what I’ve seen, it can help a lot in setting up scenes.
One of the big issues with the Hobbit movies, particularly the last one, was that Peter Jackson didn’t have enough time to set up proper storyboards due to the director change and the company wanting quick results.
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