This real job entailed designing three film posters for the independent film Fresh Out. The client is part of an independent distribution team at the National Film and Television School that is working on a marketing plan for Fresh Out which highlights three different genres and showcases various themes.
The client has explained that their goal for marketing the film is to explore various strategies and promote different genres. The film tells the story of Caz, who got out of jail and wants to begin a fresh start. However, his best friend, Luke, drags him on a tragic adventure that forces him to commit a crime and witness murder. The plot of the film revolves around a countdown of one hour and a half that reaches the end in the final scene. Tension, action and thrill drive the story, but other themes also play a vital role. Thus, the client wanted a poster that captured these main elements to communicate different genres.
Initially, the genres were; action, thriller and comedy, however upon learning the plot of the film and considering the sample of images supplied I have pitched for the third genre to be adventure instead of comedy. The client agreed that this would be more suitable and representative of the film as a whole and would not seem too distinct from the other two. For me, this has highlighted the importance of reflecting and suggesting alternative solutions. I researched different genres and looked into films that epitomize them to identify the appropriate genre and to present a well structured argument and a solution.
At the beginning, the client has asked for three film posters at one-sheet size and for one of the poster designs to be developed into a quad sized poster. However, after reflection upon the use of the posters and the fact that it will be displayed digitally, we agreed to create a mock-up as well since the posters will not be printed.
- One-sheet size (27 in x 40 in) poster highlighting action genre
- One-sheet size (27 in x 40 in) poster highlighting thriller genre
- One-sheet size (27 in x 40 in) poster highlighting adventure genre
- Quad size (30 in x 40 in) poster highlighting action genre
- Mock-up of posters
- Branding of the film title
The target audience is primarily limited to students and staff at NFT School. The client’s plan was to display the poster concepts as part of a pitch for marketing strategies. They will also share these designs with the director of the film who was enthusiastic to see their idea advertised. Nevertheless, it was important to create the posters to actual size to test typesize, image quality and impact. Additionally, I have taken into consideration the possibility for the director, cast and other people working on the film to want to print the posters in the future.
Genre and colour
An essential aspect that informs a film’s genre is colour. Since the images supplied were all similar and I had no control over them, I have worked to emphasize the genre through colour and texture. Before presenting the mood boards for each genre, I felt it was important to explain to the client the connection between colour and genres in film posters which led to an explanation of colour psychology or colour association. I achieved that through presenting sets of posters for each genre and immediately the similarity in colour came through. Establishing this connection between colour and genre impacted the client’s understanding of the mood board as they explained their understanding before I had a chance to speak.
As this is not my first real job, I learned that it is important to consider the client’s investment in the project and that could be initially determined by the amount of time they allocate for the meeting. This client was very interested to learn about film posters and the rationale behind the design. Hence, I took the opportunity to show my understanding and explain concepts which later contributed to the client’s satisfaction with the final design. It also made them feel involved in the design process.
Through the questions asked during the initial meeting about expectations, vision and inspirational examples, I was able to understand the client’s needs and overall style preference. The client has also expressed their interest in posters for films like The Italian Job, Bad Boys for Life, Baby Driver, and Death Proof. This made creating the sketches a much easier task, thus the important aspect at this stage was presenting concepts. The sketches showcase a range of concepts that each highlight one genre but still address the different themes in the film. Part of brainstorming these concepts was acknowledging that I had limited resources to work with as the client has provided the imagery. Hence, I have worked to present designs which would be possible to create. My supervisor has also encouraged me to communicate to the client how and which images I would be using to rationalise my decisions.
The main elements of the film were utilised to communicate different genres. The two main characters, the car and time; represented with the clock, have been scaled for emphasis, arranged and included in different combinations to either highlight the action, thriller or adventure aspect of the film.
The main challenge in this real job has been utilising the supplied stills. The collection of images were taken during filming. It included shots from scenes where the actors were in their characters, others where they were getting ready for the scenes or joking around and only a few with them posing for the shot. Nevertheless, my approach was to view and rate the images before developing the sketches.
I discussed with the client the potential of using royalty-free stock images from sites such as Pexels and Pixabay. It was also important to search for useful images on these sites before committing to a design. Despite the great number of images available, I had to ensure that it represented the setting of the film; season, colours, nature, etc, and most importantly the correct model of car. I established an organization system that allowed me to save files (stock images from online and images provided by the client) for each idea so that I could easily find it when we decide on a concept. The organisation was very beneficial and helped save time, and thus I plan to employ this system in my future projects especially ones that require sourcing and referencing from multiple platforms.
As the client and I envisioned the poster with the characters in specific poses, facial expressions and positions, I had to combine many of the images of the character to obtain the desired expression and position. For instance, the image of ‘Caz’ in the car is a combination of two images, as I wanted the shoulder and body to be against the chair while his head faces the audience. This real job had many limitations in resources and thus taught me how to utilise images effectively and come up with innovative solutions.
Photoshop and editing
Creating the posters though required basic Photoshop skills like assembling several images, editing, balancing colours and adding effects, yet I had to learn and improve many of my skills in order to create a professional-looking poster. One of the core skills I had to learn was managing ‘smart objects’ and ‘masks’. These two features were used excessively in the creation of all three posters as they included many large image in one single file. Additionally, due to the size of the poster, I had to pay extra attention to details especially when masking objects; ensuring the edges are clean and look realistic. This project helped me improve my Photoshop skills and learn many techniques useful for creating images on a larger scale. I also learned the importance of determining light sources and utilised my knowledge of shadow and light to create the posters. Tutorials online were very useful and often suggested different ways to create the same effect. Trying multiple ways and making a judgment on the most effective one contributed to creating these poster designs.
It was important for the client that the title, especially for the thriller genre poster, appears as a brand as they have plans to create merchandise. I worked to develop a title treatment that would be visually appealing on its own and layered on top of the image. This was an interesting challenge that forced me to examine the title treatment in different situations while ensuring it suits the concept and design of the poster.
“The fact that you used a font like the one printed on prison uniforms was brilliant!”
– The client, Afnan Linjawi
This real job was completed in one month, and the client was on sick leave for 5 days. The short turnaround time meant that I had to commit to ideas and begin designing immediately. Thus, I believe the final designs could be improved. Nevertheless, problem-solving was the core of this project and I learned many skills. My Photoshop skills have significantly improved, and I hope to showcase them in future projects. Moreover, the communication with the client made me more aware of the importance of sharing my own ideas and suggesting alternatives.
The final outcomes have shown positive feedback, however, further improvement in typeface treatment, such as the addition of effects onto the title, and a personalised typeface for the tagline, could have resulted in a more impactful film poster. Additionally, details which communicated a second level of meaning such as the time instead of a car plate number and the clock in the background could have been implemented more often. However, I believe I was able to achieve the main goal of creating three film posters highlighting different genres for the same film and from a limited set of images.
“It was a pleasure working with you. Thank you for being very attentive and cooperative. I was impressed with the various concepts you came up with for a poster of a film you haven’t watched and how you made use of the stills we provided to produce a theatrical poster fit for a theatrical release.”
– The client, Afnan Linjawi