Mark Lambert Bristol has been storyboarding for Christopher McQuarrie since The Way of the Gun; he's also the storyboard artist on films like Memento, Dazed and Confused, The Thin Red Line and Edge of Tomorrow. We were thrilled when he offered some of his gorgeous Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation storyboards to be exclusively published in the August issue of Birth.Movies.Death. magazine, as well as some behind the boards commentary.
"Every sequence in ROGUE NATION had its own unique complications. In every case, their execution relied heavily on Mark Bristol's artwork. His understanding of what I see in my head borders on an invasion of privacy." — Christopher McQuarrie, Director
Take it away, Mark!
Writer Director Chris McQuarrie and I have been friends for twenty years. I have storyboarded many of his projects over the years. He invited me to help him visualize MI:V and it became the highlight of my career. I spent fourteen months on the film and traveled to London, Vienna and Morocco. A true life adventure!
This scene was heavily choreographed by the amazing stunt team and Tom Cruise. I sketched the shots based on their reference video and rehearsals that I attended. We worked on the Vienna Opera action for four to five months. I even traveled to Vienna twice.
Here you can see the aspect ratio has changed to 2:35:1. By this point I walked through each shot with director Chris McQuarrie in Vienna, so I had a tremendous amount of reference photos to sample from. As you can see the storyboard and the final shot in the film are nearly exact. That is always a thrill.
We worked on Ilsa and Ethan's extraction from the Opera House for a long time. I was literally drawing the revisions here in Austin while they were shooting in Vienna. Fan photos of Tom Cruise on the roof of the opera house helped me with the details.
I traveled with the crew to Morocco where we spent a week planning all the amazing chase sequences. Simon Pegg was screaming for real as Tom Cruise tore down those narrow streets. Intense!
Huge stunts of an SUV exploding in the streets of Vienna require intricate planning. Storyboards are a major communication tool for the crew.
One of many storyboards depicting the underwater sequence I worked on for four months alone.
Chris and I explored many different versions of this sequence until we arrived at the final one you will see on screen.
This shot is from a sequence ultimately not used in the film. An early version of Benji's arrival to Vienna. I just like the drawings.
I was in a meeting with Tom Cruise and all the department heads to discuss this amazing stunt. Tom kept saying he wanted his feet to fly off the plane. I did a quick sketch and handed it to him. He showed it to the crew and said, "Yeah, like this!" This storyboard represents the final frame.
One of many storyboards depicting Tom Cruise's absolutely remarkable stunt. Yes, he really did hang onto the side of that massive plane. They took off and landed 5 times with him strapped on. Amazing.
Chris really liked this shot. He knows exactly what he wants and is able to perfectly articulate his vision. Within that structure I would sometimes deliver additional shots for him to consider. Thankfully he was often thrilled with the contribution.