The Elemental was written over a period of about eighteen months. Unusually Robert Sproul-Cran, the writer/director, drew storyboards right from the start. He felt the pictures were as important as the words, and had a very clear idea of how the film should unfold visually. This meant that the storyboard also went through many revisions.

Checking storyboards during the shoot
Robert, Amylia and DOP Jan Pester using the storyboards to set up the next shot.

Robert says: "'The Elemental' is a study in how fears planted in your mind can play havoc, particularly when guilt starts to take hold. The film explores Karen's worries about the fate of her parents, and how she blanks out the reality when it becomes unbearable. You can read it as a supernatural tale. But it might just be a description of a mental breakdown. Perhaps it's all in Karen's head - it's up to you to decide. But remember, the parents are dead by the time the kettle boils, so perhaps they were only still alive in Karen's memory."  

SPOILER - You may not want to look at this section until you've seen the film...

Storyboard 1
Robert drew the storyboards in black and white. He later coloured them to convey the atmosphere and lighting.

Storyboard 2

Storyboard 3
We'll include some black and white originals too..

Storyboard 4
Amazingly these drawings were made before casting took place. Compare them with the screen grabs to see how well the casting and performances brought the concept to life.

Storyboard 5
This isn't the complete set, but they should give some idea of the approach.

Storyboard 6
The script changed after some of these drawings were made. But fresh storyboards kept the visualisation up to date.

Storyboard 7

Storyboard 8

The Elemental was shot on the Red camera system at full 4K resolution by DOP Jan Pester. Robert was keen to get Jan on board because of his talent in shooting dark atmospheric scenes with mysterious shadows.

When Jan agreed to film the story that proved to be the key to getting a superb crew together. Let's face it, nobody did this for the money!

Robert already had an Edinburgh tenement stair in mind when writing the story. Edinburgh stairs have this strange design with a skylight in the roof but no windows on the way up. The result is a stair with deep shadows and pale light filtering down from stories above. You rely on the stair lights even in daytime. The exterior in Bruntsfield was a bit upmarket for the story, so a search took place in Glasgow for a good exterior. Summerfield Street was the answer. The last tenements to be demolished were flats where people had refused to move out.

The perfect tenement for the story
And the kind of place where the demolishers might discover some long-dead bodies...