Dermalian, the Storyboard 

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy: The Storyboard, Part One (Copyright 2018; Copyright Registration pending) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy+Michael Lewis is a movie in pre-production about an alien race long after humans that discovers the ruins of the NYPL (New York Public Library) and establishes it as a major archaeological site.


The DERMALIAN storyboard is being created through a process of improvisation. During this story development phase, I create and play all the characters including voiceovers in the storyboard. I have developed story by improvising directly on camera since 2010, benefiting greatly from my almost 20 years of experience as a solo theatre artist performing four or five characters in the same room at the same time. Though in its raw, unpolished state improvised dialogue often is stiff, awkward and sometimes longwinded, I trust and believe in this character-acting story development process. Who better to tell a character’s story and backstory than the character their self?

While the characters make up their stories, I improvise environments, costumes, makeup; and even the special effects are developed through improvisation as well.

This is my first movie with a sizeable cast of animated characters, one of whom, Captain George Méliès, is a central character. I have had to improvise the animations, particularly in regard to figuring out how the Dermalians would speak, move, interact with each other, adapt to human language and develop protocols for immersion into the human culture that they were studying.

Once the DERMALIAN Storyboard is complete and there is a written script, DERMALIAN will undergo dramaturgy by my collaborator, Michael Lewis. Michael studied dramatic writing with the Edgar award winning novelist, James N. Frey, and was founding Technical Director of Jump! Theatre in San Francisco. He also directed my critically acclaimed, nationally touring solo play, JUMP.

This first part of the Storyboard is 48 minutes long. I anticipate that the completed Storyboard will be approximately two hours long. However, I anticipate that the movie itself will be under 90 minutes.

Because the Storyboard is improvised from scene, there is some lack of continuity as well as a few redundancies. The design, the special effects and the animation have evolved during the process of improvisation.

It is likely that not all of the scenes that have been or will be created will be part of the final Storyboard.

In addition to using the Storyboard to attract funding, I also hope to interest actors in the live action roles: Sub-Commander Jacqueline Pearce (female); The Shakespearean ReEnactor (male); Captain Barack (male); Doctor Jane; Lieutenant Blondie (trans). I am taking the role of Dottoressa Giulia Verne for myself.


The story begins when Dr. Jane, during her routine checkup on The Reenactor, is alarmed by the readings on the medical monitor. She follows him from section to section of the Space Bubble, as he wanders in a zombie-like state reciting monologues from Macbeth. The Reenactor eventually disappears, merging through the Plasma covering an entryway at the of a hall.

The doctor studies the readings for a moment, shakes her head and puts her instruments, gloves, mask and head covering into her pockets. She removes her jacket and begins to merge into Dermalian form. She comingles with the Plasma as the scene ends.

In the meantime, Captain Barack is at the helm piloting the Space Bubble. Dr. Jane enters the cockpit to make her routine checkups on Captain Barack and Plasma in the cockpit. Dr. Jane reports to Captain Barack that The Reenactor’s endless wandering is stressing the Plasma throughout the Space Bubble and possibly creating a life-threatening situation.

Captain Barack is in his ready room watching his IntraSpace screen. Sub-Commander Pearce appears on the screen. Capt. Barack reports Dr. Jane’s concerns about the potentially dangerous effect that The Shakespearean ReEnactor is having on the Space Bubble.

THE OFFICE OF SUB-COMMANDER JACQUELINE PEARCE. Sub-Commander Pearce is in her office watching her IntraSpace screen. Captain Méliés appears on the screen. The Sub-Commander grants him permission to communicate empathically. She informs him that his team is ordered to extend their time on Earth by eight weeks in order to assist Captain Barack’s team in their transition. She senses alarm in Captain Méliés’ reaction. He explains that Dr. Verne has become increasingly difficult. The Sub-Commander assures him that she will assist him any way she can in mitigating his difficulty.

THE SOUL. (Backstory: though Dermalian culture is atheistic, true to the Dermalian love of history and culture, the Dermalians value and revere their origins, the symbol of which is the large cave named The Soul, an ancient habitat of early Dermalian ancestors. High Command was constructed over The Soul and The Soul was adapted to become the office of the Committee that governs High Command.) Sub-Commander Pearce enters The Soul, where the Committee is waiting for her. She tells them about the problem that The Reenactor’s roaming is causing on the Space Bubble. They tell her they will need to consult The Reenactor’s Guardian, since freedom of movement was at the heart of the Guardian’s granting permission for The Reenactor to go to Earth.

THE GREETING ROOM. The Guardian meets with Sub-Commander Pearce. He proposes a solution based on recent research and discoveries about Human exercise practices, i.e., the treadmill.

A STAFF MEETING. Capt. Méliés informs his team that they have been ordered to remain on Earth. Dra. Verne becomes very agitated, suddenly screams and abruptly leaves the room.

THE LABORATORY OF LA DOTTORESSA GIULIA VERNE. Dra. Giulia Verne, the science expert assigned to the ruins of the NYPL is conducted unauthorized, secret experiments on Plasma in her spare time - i.e., the middle of the night. Lt. Blondie, who in reality is an undercover investigator for High Command, has been trying to find out what Verne is up to.

LIEUTENANT BLONDIE’S LABORATORY. Lt. Blondie i an undercover state cop assigned to Capt. Méliés’ team to keep surveillance on la Dottoressa Giulia Verne, who’s suspected of conducting unregistered experiments on Plasma, an organic, sentient substance that is the basis for Dermalian technology.

Dr. Jane monitors The Shakespearean ReEnactor while he is on the rolling track of Plasma based on a treadmill that she has custom made for him in the medical section of the Space Bubble.
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