This photo was taken while I was mapping out the storylines for Killing Richard Glossip, a documentary series about a man on Oklahoma's Death Row. He claims he is innocent and the documentary sets out to prove it.
This was a complex story. There was a real-time investigation; the exposition of the crime and subsequent trials and efforts to execute Glossip. There were arguments for and against the death penalty. There was a character study of Glossip and his co-defendant, who exchanged testimony for a life sentence. Heavy stuff.
To make sense of it all I used index cards. It's old school, I know. But there's something wonderful about writing down the key elements of a scene on a card. It forces you to identify the utility and promise of each scene.
I color-coded the cards to represent the point of view of the main characters. Orange was for Glossip. Pink was the POV of the police and prosecutors. Yellow were verite scenes.
Then I arrange the cards into a narrative on a white board. I stick pins in the cards and build a story on paper. I chart out storylines and plot points. Then, I show it to an editor and we re-arrange them again and again.
It's a form of madness - the kind you need in order to build a great story. And it's serious fun. We can do this for your story and you'll be so happy that you'll make a trip to Staples to buy index cards, I promise.
Actual story boards for documentaries, l-r, Tony Robbins: I am Not Your Guru; The System with Joe Berlinger: False Confessions and Killing Richard Glossip.