Storyboard Process for Indie Film Producers 

Black Angels by screenwriter Bari Demers
The Storyboard process in any INDIE FILM is a smaller cost effective adventure in comparison to the big film production companies. We buy according to our budget. 

Here’s the complete layout of hiring work for Storyboards. 

The final presentation of our Storyboards showcasing illustrations of each scene are coloured A5 size (21x15cm / 6″ X 8″) format cards. They are typically ACTION scenes describing frame by frame of our film. 

The overall process is long for Indie Film Producers and Screenwriters.

In the beginning, filming of each scene we have the illustrator to draw us up smaller quick action scenes, just like you see with CELTX SHOTS ( an App by CELTX whose main purpose is providing us screenwriters screenwriting formats ). 

BUT, the final coloured cards are from 4-6 action scenes per ACT.

If you’re not familiar with screenplays or films, here’s an example of how it works, with ACTS 1 2 and 3.

See more at CELTX

Screenwriting - tell a story
With the final colourful illustration cards, we’ll use these for MARKETING and PROMOTION of our Film without giving away the full story. They are used to entice the viewer to share with their friends on social media. They are also used in the production film credits at the end of a film. A really good example is the movie RED or RED 2. At the end of their films they showcase the storyboard cards. 

The BIG GUYS like DC Comics, Paramount, Marvel Studios or Dreamworks Studio (DreamWorks began in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen), get the option to have a large staff of full time illustration employees. 

WE, (the smaller guy) don’t have the funds, as our projects ( even though it still takes the same kind of effort to do one film) are independently run. Which means we are strapped for funds. That said, we pay “Quick Sketches” of storyboards frames by a group of 10-20 depending. These quick storyboards are NOT coloured and simple but dynamic sketches. To put it into better prospective, a film can have as many as 110 scenes. 

INDIE FILM PRODUCERS ( aka screenwriters – we wear many hats!) pay for greyscale or b/w, A5 size (21x15cm / 6″ X 8″) from $10 to $20 per Storyboard. 

Professional Storyboard Illustrators ask from $45 – $110 per board, plus a $300 Starter Fee.  

For us Indie Film Producers (where funding is extremely tight) we can’t afford these kind of prices. Some will even ask for traveling time and so on. SO – we either do it ourselves or look for up and coming new illustrators, eager to showcase their art and get paid.  

There are three stages of artwork that each have a different pay scale. 

Storyboard examples
STAGE ONE – The Quick Sketch Storyboards 

In QUICK Storyboards requiring a quick sketch of each scene we break it down into 10 frames. WE group Storyboards into 10 frames with 30 frames per ACT. Remember there’s ACT ONE, ACT TWO and ACT THREE. Overall,( in a 90 page screenplay) that’s 90 plus storyboards.  

Each 10 frame Storyboard is $100 CA. We’re talking about quick pencil (preferably ink) sketches. Each sketch should take only 15 minutes to produce for any good illustrator. $10 for 15 minutes work is really not that bad of payment. On an hourly wage, that would $60 per hour. Four frames per hour is (in my opinion) fair for new upcoming illustrators. 

In STAGE ONE we don’t do Crowdfunding. And our timeline is a lot more relax then the BIG BOYS.  

STAGE TWO – The Coloured Cards

The coloured cards are much more elaborate, (requiring sometime to produce a creative artist piece ) used for PROMOTIONS of our INDIE FILM. Because of the time factor we expect to pay $100 – $120 CA per COLOURED CARD.  

Every detail is important in these promotional cards. 

In STAGE TWO we do require Crowdfunding sources. But, of course, we proceed with the crowdfunding first and then hire our prospective illustration artist. We usually work with the same illustrator who spent the time doing our quick sketches, unless during the STAGE ONE process we found the artist to be difficult to work with. 

Trust me when I say, I have personally fired a couple. 

In this business, an artist can NOT be arrogant or have any kind of attitude. They must be able to work within the guidelines of FILM PRODUCERS. In any filming process, it’s SO IMPORTANT we all work together (without any headaches) with a general goal of producing the best film ever. We require ACTORS, ILLUSTRATOR and CAMERA CREW (Remember the many hats ? Each camera crew will also set up rigging too. We are not the BIG BOYS) who are all easy to get along with. 

STAGE THREE – The Storyboard Film Book

In this stage, we are committed to producing the most colourful Storyboard Film Book for purchase after the film has been released. It’s imperative the coffee-table Storyboard Film Book is ready for purchasing on-line as our film is released in, lets say at SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. 

The cost per coloured illustration can be from $125 – $500 US per 8 X 11 format with the quick sketches within from $45 – $80 US ( all these smaller sketches must be inked format). The full cost of producing the Storyboard Film Book can be from $10,000 – $18,000 US.  

We like to sell each book around $45 each.

STAGE THREE of producing a Storyboard Film Book is only if we feel it will add to the hype to our film. In other words, if we already have 100,000 fans waiting for our film to be released. 


Making a film along with Storyboards require the artist sign a wavier to make sure he or she keeps our project in complete secrecy. They can NOT show their friends and family or can they freely talk about the ongoing filming project.  

Essential, IT IS TOP SECRET.   

Can you imagine social media talking about the whole storyline of your film ? It would surely be a disaster! Like all Film Producers we keep everything under wraps until we release our film in a popular film festival.   

Today I’m working on a big project BLACK ANGELS requiring 200 million dollars to produce. This project isn’t any small adventure or would it be said to be an INDIE FILM.  


Drug addict war hero seeks revenge for brother’s death, risking his crew in a mining expedition on planet ALPHA XL-420 for the priceless Red Crystal, essential to saving their species from a deadly virus.​


This project must prepare it in stages, in order to catch the BIG BOYS attention. 

  • FIRST STAGE : Produce the Final Draft Screenplay – DONE ! 
  • SECOND STAGE : Produce quick Storyboard illustrations. 
  • FOUTH STAGE: Release a short-story film about BLACK ANGELS at Sundance Film Festival.
  • FIVE STAGE : The BIG BOYS finally catch wind of my project, offering a substantial timeline in the pre-production of the film BLACK ANGELS. 
  • SIXTH STAGE : Full Production of the science-fiction horror genre BLACK ANGELS. 
  • SEVENTH STAGE : Release of BLACK ANGELS in Theatres on DECEMBER 2021 ? Also release a coffee-book Storyboard Film Book across the web. Red carpet film premiere of BLACK ANGELS with adjoining actors, director and producers. 

Checkout BLACK ANGELS website and if your require more information or a full Treatment of my film, CONTACT ME.  

Serious inquiries only please. 

Final convection : If anyone is asking an artist illustrator to produce illustrations for free through a contest or whatever, then it’s certainly a scam. As a screenwriter for smaller INDIE FILMS we buy illustrations for our storyboards.  

Are you an upcoming illustration artist looking to produce quick illustrations, please send examples by contacting me with your rate.  

By Bari Demers – screenwriter and freelance writer 

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