We love nothing better than butter-smothered popcorn, a $5 watered-down soda and a movie screen the size of a billboard. We’ve seen the same Amazing Spider-Man movie remade 10 times and we’re OK with that. Going to the movies is just part of who we are.
For Clay Chastain, a 2006 Gordon Central graduate, going to the movies was not enough. He wanted to be a part of them, which led him to a career as a movie storyboard artist. He takes scripts and turns them into images, drawing and coloring concepts into life.
“There is something about the universality of film and its visual nature,” said Chastain, who now makes his home in Athens. “It can be as impenetrable and as simple (as you want). I love how it can be purely fun and that it also allows for deep introspection.”
Before his career in the movie industry began, Chastain was like a lot of other college students, forever looking for something in which to major. After a couple of years at Dalton State College, Chastain transferred to The University of Georgia where he set out to major in English Literature. In the process, he began taking film courses on the side and eventually found himself spending more time in those classes than he’d expected.
“I’d always watched films growing up, but it got to the point that where I realized it was what I wanted to do,” he said. “I decided, with one semester left before graduating, that I was going to stay in school and get a degree in film.”
The decision paid off. After graduating, Chastain helped a friend on a film and his work caught the eye of a director in Hollywood. Chastain flew out and met with the director and then took a position on the crew of an independent film called Nocturnal Errands. The film is an action thriller about a media spy who seems to be foiled at every turn, Chastain said. Chastain is in charge of the storyboard.
“The storyboard artist is the first word on what everything looks like,” he said. “You sit with the director talking about camera angles and perspectives on how you shoot the shot. You read the script over and over and draw different things, scan and doctor them up, and bring in other elements.”
Though it might seem risky to get involved in a profession known for its hard-knocks and cut-throat mentality, Chastain said he went in with open eyes and has discovered that plenty of work can be found with his particular skill-set.
“A lot of films are being produced in Atlanta right now. It’s sort of the hub of filmmaking on the East Coast,” he said. “It is very competitive business, but a lot of it is so dependent upon knowing the right people.”
Being in Hollywood is not a requirement for the job, but being there can make a difference, he said. He spends time there and keeps in contact with those he’s met along the way.
“It can be a more fluid experience if you have friends who you know can get things done. So much of how a production runs depends on if the crew is familiar with one another.”
At one time Chastain had aspirations of becoming a director, he said, but his experiences have confirmed his calling as a storyboard artist.
“I always wanted to be a director,” he said. “I wrote my first screenplay at (age)15. But now I see directors and I know what goes into it; it’s stressful. It’s also a very clinical type thing. I love doing what I’m doing now.”
Though you may never see Chastain’s face on the jumbo screen, stay a little longer and look for his name in the credits. For more information on Chastain and his work, visit his Web site at www.williamchastain.com.