“It may actually be easier to make a movie than it is to make a movie poster, You have to create something from nothing.”
A film’s poster is considered one of the main key factors in promoting a film before its release. As film publicity designers we only have 3 seconds to hold your attention and convince you to watch the film. People with design literacy are not interested in bad Photoshop job which evokes nothing new. A good poster is an amalgamation of clear positioning and unique execution. KEY ART is a film industry term used for film posters.
People argue with me that when the film’s trailer drops, it takes all attention away from the poster. But based on my experience when the movie does commercially or critically well. People love to hang posters on the wall, not the trailers. And once they get to watch the whole film… they are not interested in trailers anymore.
The list of iconic posters is endless but lets have a look at the few:
ITS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS
Photoshop may have harmed the industry by making it easier for inexperienced designers to put together collage-style posters without the design skills to back them up. A skilled designer’s job is to focus on all poster elements with equal attention. He should be able to work on many projects simultaneously. Its crazy schedule. Any aspiring designer should have good visualization skills.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful posters you can make. What matters is how many posters can you make in a day.
The movie’s logo will usually be designed by the studio as well.
A finished poster contains around 1000 layers in photoshop.
To get everything right one has to keep himself updated about the industry standards. One must regularly browse http://www.impawards.com/ daily to check all updates on latest film or tv series posters across the globe. This website also features a list of all film posters agencies around the world.
A designer should maintain a film poster library to help him in creating unique designs otherwise he may end up creating posters very similar to other films. And if your similar or copied design, whatever people call it: gets media coverage, then it may cause some serious damage to reputation of your agency.
At the end you have to find a fine balance between face of a movie star vs artistic imagery.
Tomasz Opasinski is a very famous film publicity designer currently working in Hollywood. He has designed posters for over 300 movies. He puts some light on this subject precisely:
“People don't realize how much work goes into poster design, They think we have one image, we put the text on it, send it to the client, and they go: ‘Whoo, amazing! Here's $600,000.’ It isn’t like that at all. Poster-making has adopted a factory approach, It’s no longer one dude sitting at home; it's revision after revision and each design goes through a lot of people for approval. Young designers see the glamor, the superstars, and it's not like that,” he says. “For the first 10 years, you see no superstars: you just see your computer.”
A film publicity designer should know about the concept of film’s genre. Because the color schemes and visuals contrasts in each genre. He should watch films from around the globe regularly. You cant design a film poster if you don’t like movies.
Those days are gone when artists used to paint film posters. Now days Film poster designing process is a whole network between Photoshop artists, marketing heads, film director, actors, photographers, printers and copywriters. In Hollywood you should expect to be part of a big team: some agencies hire 80 or more designers. But in India, this scenario is completely opposite. Usually 2-3 designers work on a single project. The target audience is low on design literacy. If you pitching for a film, chances are that other agencies are competing against you. It is a competitive market, agencies are ready to slash their prices. And winning a pitch does not necessarily mean it will be your work that is used.
In Bollywood, the film poster design industry has started to grow lately. But Only 3-4 agencies are leading the game. H-ONE, JUMP DESIGN PVT LTD and MARCHING ANTS are very well-known agencies, primarily working for all big Bollywood production houses. The PAN india target audience play a big influence on marketing direction for each film. In Hollywood , design teams are supported by CGI setups and stock image websites. In India this kind of support system don’t exist everywhere. We still don’t have good design institute in india where they teach us photo manipulation on advanced level. Some institutes teaching vfx have photo manipulation classes available in their module.
But against all adversaries, all leading agencies are committed to provide best design solution possible. A prominent agency H-ONE hired international artist Grzegorz Domaradzki for ROCKSTAR film posters.
CREATING A SCENE VS CREATING ICONOGRAPHY
There are various type of design systems you get to learn in design school. But let me make it simple for you,
In Bollywood there are only two systems.
CREATING A SCENE vs CREATING A CONCEPT
In the end it all depends on you, how much you want to extend the limits of what is possible.
Creating an advertising concept based campaign is a real hard work. While to be on safer side without giving much thought designers just create floating heads or recreate scenes from the film.
Big budged movie producers are more concerned about showcasing their film’s scale. Bigger the better. That’s why sometimes designing a scene does more justice to film’s campaign.
For a big budget film, an agency works on 2-3 distinct design routes with having approx. 20 designs in each route. Along with various film title design options. In the end its totally marketing decision, what kind of design system will help sell the film. Because it’s the audience that matters.
A poster is a selling tool. It can be very beautiful but it's not a piece of art. If the audience don’t get it, it will never get to printing.
Understanding the film’s emotion plays big part in GETTING IT RIGHT.
Let's take an example of Spiderman Homecoming, In the first set of creative the positioning is so clear as it perfectly captures the film’s spirit. Spiderman chilling at various NYC spots.
Now let's have a look at this joyless, crowded, floating head creative. Its plain amateurish. Images don’t appear on same context. Without any form of narrative. A skilled artist can take all those disparate elements and weave them together into a beautiful composition (example: Harry Potter).
Generally the agency is blamed for a poster’s shoddy work. But frequently it is client’s decision from marketing point of view.
The positioning, copy or tagline as people call it, makes a huge difference in how a designer approaches a particular film. Positioning works like a guiding force where you can never go wrong while conceptualizing. But an incorrect positioning can project the film in wrong direction.
Other notables taglines:
Alien vs. Predator (2004): "Whoever wins, we lose."
Catch Me If You Can (2002): "The true story of a real fake."
Chicken Run (2000): "Escape or die frying."
Dazed and Confused (1993): "See it with a bud."
Jurassic Park (1993): "An adventure 65 million years in the making."
ALTERNATIVE FILM POSTERS
Alternative posters sound fun but they dont help sell the film. Alternative posters add value to a film once it releases and becomes a hit. Mondo is really famous artist for his alternative film poster work.
And if you are one of these lazy people then clearly you don’t need my advice.