Terry Gilliam: How to Use Storyboards for Film

Sometimes I was just enjoying drawing these things and they risked becoming illustrations rather than storyboards. But some scenes, say of the statue of the head with a horse in ‘Munchausen,’ that came out of drawing something. I actually started drawing an equestrian statue and thought, “oh, this looks better without the head on.” And then once you have the idea that the heads off the statue, “let’s have the head on the floor. And it’s got to be a big head, and people are living in the head.” So that’s something that came out of a drawing. 
The storyboard becomes my insurance policy — if I ever run out of ideas, I go back to the storyboard “just do that, and, I’ll have a film.” 

Oftentimes we put a billboard up on the set with the storyboard so that people on the crew can come by and say “Ah, that’s what’s going on.” And that’s what helps, again, showing people what we’re doing that day.

It’s often the easiest way to communicate with people. It’s accessible to everybody, and, anyone can come by and enter into dialogue with it. The more I can put out there for people to see, the better I am able to communicate. 

The way I work with a set-designer, I have a lot of paintings and I bring in photographs, and things I’ve spotted on location, and accumulate a lot of material, and then start drawing…. 
Well, I really want to encourage a kind of fantasy, a kind of magic. I love the term magic realism, whoever invented it – I do actually like it because it says certain things. It’s about expanding how you see the world. I think we live in an age where we’re just hammered, hammered to think this is what the world is. Television’s saying, everything’s saying ‘That’s the world.’ And it’s not the world. The world is a million possible things.
—Terry Gilliam: Salman Rushdie talks with Terry Gilliam