Who is Pablo Buratti, the man who watches Pedro Almodóvar’s films before they are shot?

He has been drawing what the filmmaker imagines for more than 10 years. In the book ‘Storyboarding Almodóvar’, by Dolmen Editorial, we enter the mind of the manchego thanks to an unknown trade, but key in filming.

Pablo Buratti He grew up watching movies projected on a wall large enough and white to be able to appreciate the images. They were copies that were in poor condition, so certain details were lost. The artist’s favorite game was to draw everything he had seen. Now he works drawing what will later be projected. Specifically, it gives life to what Pedro Almodóvar wants to be projected. She has worked with him on his last seven projects, including Parallel mothers, and knows perfectly what the manchego wants to be able to put it on paper.

The function of a ‘storyboard’ is to help the filmmaker to visualize the scene they are going to shoot, among many other things. They do this test and then arrive on set with the sequence in mind. That is why it is important that the artist gets along with the filmmaker, understands him and knows how to give shape to his requests. Pablo Buratti has been doing the same with Pedro Almodóvar for more than 10 years and now lets us peek into his creative process with the book Storyboarding Almodóvar, where he reviews his work with the director of the Movida and reveals how they plan the sequences.

Almodóvar is not the only director who has designed the ‘storyboards’. He has also done it with Álex de la Iglesia, JA Bayona, Terry Gilliam or Asghar Farhadi. His career has been growing through word of mouth and through a host of coincidences that have opened doors for him. A De la Iglesia, for example, met him while advertising and called him to do The witches of Zugarramurdi and 30 coins. What Buratti likes is to draw, something he has done for as long as he can remember. On his way he crossed the world of cinema and, after working in agencies, he decided to return to the classrooms and study a film career in Buenos Aires. He made his first ‘storyboards’ for short films and practices and, after landing in Madrid, he became one of the most sought-after of the moment. There weren’t many professionals in his field. The only one who could be a threat to was Víctor Monigote, the king of the storyboard, who immediately welcomed him into his world and they were passing jobs to each other while they made a name for themselves.

The ‘storyboardist’ does not usually visit the filming, but one day he went to the recording of a scene from Pain and glory. He saw firsthand how his drawings were transformed into blueprints following planning. At that moment an idea occurred to him. Driven by the desire to tell the ‘behind the scenes’ of Pedro Almodóvar, which never comes to light despite the fact that the filmmaker has hundreds of books that honor his work, Buratti began to design the book that Dolmen Editorial has published .

Its full-color pages offer a fascinating journey through Almodóvar’s imagination and show how Buratti manages to bring his ideas to light and translate them into the storyboard. It is a work that they have been polishing since 2009, when they collaborated for the first time in Broken Embraces, and a decade later they have achieved a close relationship until reaching an absolute understanding. Parallel mothers It has not been included in the book – he was working on it while he was writing it – but the numerous anecdotes from his previous shootings have. Here we collect the keys why the ‘storyboard’, or storyboard, is important for the good result of a film and how Almodóvar uses it to shape his art.

Dolmen Editorial

Fragments of the ‘storyboard’ of ‘Pain and glory’.

A tool at the service of the director

Those of us who are strangers to film shootings think of the ‘storyboard’ as something that looks beautiful and helps us imagine the scenes that, finally, were not shot. In the day-to-day life of workers in this sector, it is an element that serves two clear purposes: allows the director to preview his ideas and helps him better communicate with different areas of the production.

Juliet It has been the feature film where he has started to work sooner and later he has finished. In this way, it becomes a sample of how much the ‘storyboard’ contributes to the process of creating an Almodóvar film. In the words of the author, his work on the set resulted in an exciting journey that had two intentions. “On the one hand, that destined to specify the camera staging and communicate it to all production areas; on the other, the one conceived as visual notes by Almodóvar himself in order to define ideas and deepen them within a more personal context“explains the artist.

This is, broadly speaking, what the ‘storyboard’ contributes to the process of creating a film. In fact, it is a very practical tool for the filmmaker and can provide the functions that it deems appropriate. For example in The passing lovers there was a scene whose shots would be defined on set alongside the actors, so the storyboard served narrative purposes. In these cases, Pedro Almodóvar focuses on transmitting the dramatic key and Buratti decodes his ideas to find concrete aspects. This can only be achieved with a lot of intuition and knowing very well the work of the filmmaker with whom you work.

Pedro Almodóvar in SensaCine: From Ennio Morricone’s “stingy”, to his first time with Penelope and the mythical scenes he improvised with Carmen Maura

Work ‘on the ground’, bringing the film to life live

On Storyboarding Almodóvar, Buratti explains that, until he met Almodóvar, he had always worked in his studio with the guidelines that the filmmakers told him. Once he joined the team from La Mancha, began to make his ‘storyboards’ ‘in situ’, letting the pencil fly over the paper while they talked about plans and characters at the conference table or, directly, on the set.

In the work of the ‘storyboard’ artist, the relationship with other departments is very important to be able to know first-hand what certain elements will be like, mainly the location. Are there trees in the street? What crosses are there? What is the environment like where the action takes place? All this information is important in the work of the artist of the ‘storyboard’ and it does not always happen. They begin to draw in the initial stages, when the director does not know what the actors or locations will be like.

You have to know how to adapt if, for production reasons, certain sets are yet to be determined. This is what happened, for example, in Juliet. The train where several scenes take place was not defined and Buratti had to redesign his drawings as the filming sets progressed. It was especially useful because they ran into a problem that forced them to change the plans they had thought of. The train could not move through the catenaries, so the team quickly thought of a solution to make sense of the plot, vignettes through.

Free ideas and bring the director and actors closer together

Pablo Buratti started working with the La Mancha filmmaker to help them shape a specific sequence. He felt grateful for being able to help someone of the stature of Pedro Almodóvar without knowing that, years later, it would be a fundamental piece of his creative journey. When it was time to roll Pain and glory they had such a worked relationship that the work consisted of “freeing up ideas in order to find ways to meet the challenges posed in the script.” In his own words, there were no complicated scenes from a technical point of view, but it was a creative exercise to help the director and the actors.

Buratti built a storyboard that served as a starting point to search for narrative solutions from the visual point of view. The artist likes to include dramatic nuances in his designs, rather than indications of movement. He started doing it at his first job, Broken Embraces. After seeing the rehearsal of a scene between Lena (Penélope Cruz) and Martel (José Luis Gómez), he indicated the friction between the gazes of the characters. Then it might be changed in the final recording, but Buratti’s storyboard has these kinds of details.

Dolmen Editorial

Detail of the book in the chapter dedicated to ‘Broken Embraces’.

Key piece in action scenes (or especially difficult ones)

The ‘storyboard’ is of great help to the director to imagine what a scene is going to be like before setting up the filming set and to involve all the members of the team. It is useful in many sequences, but especially in action sequences, where everything happens at high speed and they have to have the right shots so that the viewer does not lose detail.

Buratti started working with Pedro Almodovar because they needed a ‘storyboard’ for a scene from Broken Embraces where a car accident takes place and they realized that the role of the artist made things much easier for them, so they counted on him for the following productions. The fall of Lena – the character of Penelope Cruz – in that same film represents how much a good storyboard makes the job easier. “I drew the sequence including everything done and marked there: plans and cons for the previous dialogues, details of the body of the specialist during the fall, the front to receive her at ground level and the middle and general sides as masters of all the action“explains the artist in the book.

The chase in The Skin I Live In where Robert (Antonio Banderas) hunts Vicente (Jan Cornet) was the main claim for the ‘storyboard’. Buratti made the drawings knowing part of the locations and thus the team had help for the logistics of the scene. Ultimately, the action stayed pretty true to the artist’s designs.

If you want to know more about the exciting creative process of Pablo Buratti with Pedro Almodóvar, you can find the book Storyboarding Almodóvar on the Dolmen Editorial website, in large stores such as FNAC or Amazon and in many bookstores and small stores.

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