How Satoshi Kon Storyboarded 'Millennium Actress'
Ambition on a tight budget.
Welcome back! In this Thursday issue of the Animation Obsessive newsletter, we’re looking at how Satoshi Kon storyboarded his film Millennium Actress (2001).
Kon is famous for “editing space and time.” There’s an old Every Frame a Painting video with that exact title — it’s helped to spread understanding of Kon’s style. But editing is a different process in animation than it is in live-action movies. As Kon said, “In the case of animation, editing is done first.”1 It happens at the storyboard stage.
Millennium Actress is one of Kon’s experiments in cutting apart and reassembling time, space and story. He took on the task of storyboarding the thing himself — over 400 pages, usually with five drawings per page. The final product sticks close to this first pass. Kon was, in some ways, conjuring Millennium Actress out of thin air and putting it down on paper.
It was a wild process that reveals a lot about this film, and about filmmaking in general. That’s what we’re exploring today. Here we go!