The biggest question newcomers have is, do I need a shot list and storyboards? The short answer is yes. A shot list is a checklist of the coverage you need of a scene (a medium, a close-up, etc) and it’s a good place to start, but that’s all it is, a list.
It’s something your Assistant Director uses to create a schedule and it helps them keep track of the footage throughout the day. It also helps the editorial department keep track of footage. But creatively, you haven’t explained what’s in the shots.
So once you know what shots you need to cover a scene, you need to demonstrate how you, as the Director, visualize each shot. This is where the storyboards come in. They explain your vision, shot-by-shot and hopefully inspire your team.
John Badham, in his book On Directing1 reminds us, “Every shot must add to the overall story and can never be random. . . . it ought to convey the mood of the film and contribute to the story.” This is the time you hash out what you are trying to communicate with each shot.
It will help the Production Designer know how to decorate the set, it will help the Director of Photography know where to put the camera and how to light the shot, what lenses to use, and so it is with all departments.