Last year, I put out a call through Craigslist to find new artists to collaborate with on creating cover art for the erotic fiction on my site. This lead to me connecting with three outstanding and diverse artists, the first two--Hector Gomez and Matt Gold--my readers are already familiar with. I´m excited to introduce the other, Anthony Sturmas, who has began showing his art with my stories Weird Eden, The Drowned Kingdom, and The Lonely City.
A storyboard artist based in Los Angeles, I was fortunate to get this interview when I did. Anthony works tirelessly on a number of projects, and when we spoke, he had just finished working on the upcoming action-thriller Wages of Sin, directed by Victor Rios and starring Danny Trejo. Below is a little bit more about Anthony and his dynamic art. Enjoy!
Christian Pan: You´ve been working as a storyboard artist for many years, an art form that maybe not everyone is familiar with. Can you tell us what you do?
Anthony Sturmas: I started out as a graffiti artist in the early eighties, then got into film making through concept art and storyboarding. Most of the work I do is for feature films and commercials, and have been doing this for about 23 years.
Storyboarding is a representation of various shots of how your film will unfold, shot by shot. It’s made up of squares with illustrations from fifty of them to 5000 or more depending on the film.
CP: Cool! How did you first break into doing storyboards for films. Were you always a visual artist? How did your first job come into place?
AS: Since I was a kid, I always played around with art did not get serious until high school when graffiti exploded in the early 80’s. I jumped on to this new wave of art and excelled in my art and went off to Art Center in Pasadena and studied advanced illustration.
My first job was doing logos for t-shirts based on surfers and the west coast vibe. Didn’t like it because it was controlled, the designs sucked, and I didn’t like being how to design my illustrations. You hired me to what I do best so let me create and execute my part.
After several years doing logos and illustrations, I was interested in storytelling, but just did not know how to get into it. So, I went to the Art Institute in California. There I got my BFS in multimedia animation and graduated early with a short film underneath my belt called The Red Storm. This was my first film, a 2d, 3d animated film based on tyranny in politics.
CP: What´s your creative process when making a storyboard? Do you communicate with the writer, the director, both? What´s the collaboration like?
AS: The process at first can be overwhelming because it´s a lot to take in within a brief period of time. But basically, it´s talking to the director, reading the script ,and reviewing the materials. I like to do a lot of prepping prior to storyboarding, so my storyboards are authentic to the time period of the movie. The majority of the times when I am working, I only deal with the director.
Rarely do I have any issues, but sometimes the director will have his doodles to certain scenes that he wants to shoot. I will take those, incorporate them into the storyboards, and add my own twist to them.
AS: Masterful! I adored him, and he had an incredible impact on my career as a storyboard artist. One thing I took away from studying with Bill was to pay attention to the direction of the camera and the details. Details like, if you draw a shoot-out in the city, make sure the next scene has the same background. He frequently emphasized the importance of being consistent in the background settings, so that you don’t get things confused. People in this industry are short fused and don’t have allot time for being patient.
CP: In your experience, what is the key to creating a successful storyboard for a film?
AS: It´s simple, but for some odd reason people tend to take short cuts, and then it shows in their films. It should start out like this:
1. Shot list—take a scene a supply a shot list;
2. Have visual references pertaining to certain scenes of how you want it shot;
3. Add directional arrows, motion of the camera; and then
4. Add text for camera movement or special effects that are needed in the scenes.
Also, I think it´s important to do my part as the storyboard artist in understanding the time- period. If you storyboard something, it´s your job to know what you’re storyboarding.
CP: You´ve worked with a wide variety of entertainment companies and artists over the past twenty years. What was one of the most challenging collaborations you did? What was one of the most rewarding?
AS: One of the most difficult gigs I had was working on this hockey game, a film about faith. The director had some sort of point to prove to me, though, quoting famous directors and trying to show me how to storyboard. Anyhow, I´ve never played hockey, nor do I even know all the rules; I just know how they score. But storyboarding that was a challenge. I mean, there’s a lot to know about this game—especially when you’re boarding. In the end I took it as an experience, and you learn something new.
CP: How has the covid-19 pandemic affected your ability to do your work? Has it opened any new possibilities?
AS: It didn´t disrupt my work at all because 99% of my work is done remotely. Unless I’m called to storyboard on set for some special effect scenes, or something; but other then that, for me, the past two-three years went smoothly.
CP: What projects or collaborations do you have coming up?
AS: I just finished working on two films, one can be seen on Amazon Prime called The Inhabitant, directed by Jerren Lauder; and Wages of Sin with Danny Trejo and directed by Victor Rios. I also have a feature film pending, which will film in Dubai.
CP: That´s awesome! Is there anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?
AS: Not at all. I give all glory to God for allowing me to enjoy this gift of creativity, and to inspire those around me to never settle in life. Do what you absolutely love. Life is short. Give it all you´ve got, and strive to improve yourself to your higher levels.
CP: Amen to that!