A River Runs & Storyboards

Just a little nostalgia from the way-back days of my youth (well, when I was 21)…


As a few FF&W readers may know, I did a small portion of the fly-fishing-specific storyboard work on A River Runs Through It (especially some of the pick-up shots that needed to be acquired after principle photography was finished).

If you’re not familiar with storyboards, they are an illustrated shot-by-shot breakdown of a scene (or scenes), allowing the production crew to better visualize the shot set-ups. Storyboards often follow a quicker, “sketchier” style, versus precise drawing. Storyboards make it easier for everyone to literally see where things are going (or to make changes based on what’s shown). River was thoroughly storyboarded, and of course, that included the fly-fishing scenes.


The film’s key storyboard artist was Eric Ramsey, who spent significant time fleshing out the various scenes in Montana. Eric was kind enough to give me some direction and to pass along a few tricks of the trade. Watching Eric do his thing was a revelation. When I saw what a professional storyboard artist was capable of, I knew that my work in the field was going to be rather…limited (I took a stab at further storyboarding work post-movie, but quickly realized that I was well out of my illustration league). Eric’s speed, as well as his understanding of lenses, angles, and direction impressed upon me what that type of illustration was really all about (and it wasn’t about fussing around illustrating a few fly-fishing books from time to time).

In the end, I still had the opportunity to storyboard a small sheaf of pages, focusing on the angling scenes. A few of those illustrations are shown above (I’m sure you can guess which scenes they refer to). For me, the cool part of it wasn’t so much the illustrations themselves, but being in a position where I was also doubling some of the shots I had drawn. I’ll always be thankful to Eric for being so gracious, and to Patrick Markey (producer) and Robert Redford for giving me the chance to be involved in such a unique way.

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