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the best film posters of 2018_010319


the objectiv section of this website contains a scan of an email that my business partner giles once wrote to his father. his father hated the designs we’d created for our business cards back in 2003 (in retrospect, they were pretty bad) and giles, who often stood by his father’s point of view on our various new business concerns, did me proud in telling his pa to “back off” on this particular occasion. in fact i was so moved at this gesture and felt it such a call to arms to everything we were trying to do together, that i posted it on our new website as an indication of our company’s modus operandi. it’s been there now for 15 years and reading it still moves me. without giles’s understanding and counterpoint to my idealism i wouldn’t still be here doing this today.

we recently made the decision to shift our focus as a company to almost exclusively producing design and artwork for films. we felt that the considerable paycut would be worth it for the job satisfaction — or karma if you like — that came with creating artwork that extended, supported and promoted other artwork. films were after all my first great passion.

in the last year it’s my belief that we’ve really hit our stride, particularly with regards to the posters we’ve been producing. in doing so we’ve noticed various design fashions come and go and have strived where possible to avoid producing work that looks or feels like anyone else’s. this is easier said than done, but in certain cases i do think we’ve succeeded.

we’ve noticed in this process that there’s often a great divide between the quality of posters made for festivals and those made for a film’s theatrical release. it seems that the reasons for this are twofold:

  1. sales, marketing and distribution types like to play it safe and rely upon the success of old marketing visual concepts in order to ensure their clients’ future success. there is of course no great logic to their point of view here, when what made the previous concepts successful was that they were once new. however they’d argue that it’s not always about talking about what’s new or different about a film so much as convincing audiences that they might enjoy this film as much as this or that great film from the past.

  2. it’s common knowledge in the design community that the posters we are asked to make for film festivals are, more often than not, the posters that the filmmakers themselves would be framing and putting on their walls at home. this is because these posters were made fresh off the back of the film’s completion and in such close collaboration with the filmmakers that they became an expression of the film’s very DNA. these posters are often unique, experimental and highlight explicitly what sets one film apart from others.

this year a large number of ‘best film posters of 2018’ lists have appeared and it’s saddened us greatly to see, in certain cases, the inclusion of a lot of particularly basic, derivative and often downright tiresome designs. designs that in our opinion do nothing to make us want to see the film, let alone credit poster-making as an art form. these works make a sham of the profession as they further train the general public to rely upon such substandard methods of communication. it is then of course no great fault of those humans making these lists when this is what they have to choose from.

the decision to select posters from an exclusively theatrical pool works very well from the point of view of the platform publishing the list — you know, the playlists, indiewires, rotten tomatoes and little white lies of this world — because when these filmmakers are given a shout out of this kind they’re likely to repost this list for their audiences, and theatrical films often have much bigger audiences. these are also films that the general public have already seen or can hope to see soon, and so members of the public are also likely to repost these lists as they likely contain one or two of their favourite films.

jean-luc godard once said that “the best way to criticize a film is to make a film.” so allow us, if you will, to make a list in order to criticize some of these other lists. be they festival, theatrical or even unused byproducts of an otherwise doomed creative process, these are the posters from 2018 that we feel really count:

distant constellation
i was once hired to create a poster for this film and failed, so it is with the utmost respect and admiration that i post this poster. it was created by shin-woo park for the jeonju film festival which takes special pride in commissioning its own set of posters for the films that it programs each year. shin-woo manages in ways i could not to touch on some of the complex ontological thoughts one has whilst watching this truly unique film.

the mountain
sam smyth did good here. the suggestive quality of this photograph combined with the film’s name and the typographic treatment of it, give this poster a cold but curious mystique. i’ve never seen the film, i know little about it and yet i’m delightfully curious to see it simply because of the level of nuanced restraint in this design. furthermore i imagine that the poster will mean even more to me after seeing it than it did before.

phantom thread
i have seen this film and enjoy this poster by brian vee not just because of its inventive delivery of the film’s narrative concepts, but also because making a poster with your own bare hands will always grant it a unique quality; a quality that computer software alone never will. adobe products tend to homogenize design aesthetics the world over, and the more we all learn to keep them at arm’s length, the better and more original our work will be.

cam
the fact that this poster was used for both the festival and theatrical releases of this film is testament not just to the design, but to the quality of the sales and distribution folks behind the project. i am biased as i work regularly with the poster’s creator, charlotte gosch, and so got to see it at several stages of its production, but that’s the limit of my influence on its genesis. it’s a striking, stand-out and brutal piece of work for a film i have not seen, but very much want to now.

hereditary
the lighting alone in this poster is unlike that in any film poster i’ve seen before. it’s reminiscent of the work of gregory crewdson. the predominance of shadows hint at the horrific quality of the film — which i have seen — whilst the glinting light emphasizes the facial structures of each of the characters. this second part is of particular importance given this film is about a family, one of whom is all the more striking in appearance than any of the others. the family’s arrangement in the frame echoes the small family tree motif which is further echoed in the film’s name and tagline. speculation as to the film’s nature and narrative fill the mind even before a screening, and afterwards you’re reminded of just how unique the film looked compared to other films (as much as you’re reminded of its dark, dark heart.)

john mcenroe — in the realm of perfection
french design team checkmorris created this poster. the relatively conventional ‘tennis court-esque’ typesetting is offset by the delightfully effective rotation and cropping of the photo of mcenroe. i have not seen the film so i can’t comment on how much john’s plummeting fall from the top of the frame is an echo of the film’s narrative, but it does make me wonder.

notes on an appearance
this poster is exceptionally interesting on a number of levels. first up the ‘spot the difference’ nature of its repeated imagery really grabs your attention. the moment i saw it i was left wondering what i was supposed to be looking for, which in turn made me keen to see the film. secondly, the poster was made by the film’s director ricky d’ambrose. this fact inherently makes me trust the work more; it’s a piece of direct communication from the film’s heart. whilst it’s not unusual for a director to design their own film poster, it is certainly not common for that poster to be quite this good.

shirkers
this poster by tomer hanuka is remarkably pleasing to look at. it feels unique in the realm of film poster design, particularly theatrical film poster design. i know very little about the film but something tells me its not an animation. this in turn makes me appreciate it all the more as this kind of ambiguity is usually a ‘no go’ with sales and distribution figureheads. i cannot say the poster gives me any great clues as to what the film is about, but certain aspects — like the ‘untruth’ license plate and the silhouetted motorcycle driver — make me very curious. in fact i’m sure that once you’ve seen the film the poster will become all the more valuable as a result of these mysterious little details.

first reformed
i suppose it’s no secret that this poster is a rip-off of the great italian poster for andrei tarkovsky’s film, stalker. that said my rule has always been that if you find yourself under the heavy influence of a previous work, then you simply must evolve it if you wish to preserve your integrity. in this case i think the conversion of the tarkovsky factory / war-scape into this more delicate fiery hellscape is not just welcome, but considerably more psychologically impactful. i have seen this film and what you see here in this poster is more of a feeling about the film’s narrative and its protagonist’s psychological condition than is necessarily depicted in the film. this in turn makes this work a respectful evolution of its predecessor.

phantom thread
this is, i believe, an unused poster from the alphaville design archives. that said i think it’s the best poster for phantom thread out there. it not only harnesses what alphaville are good at, but it makes a beautiful commentary on the film’s narrative. every time i think about posters for this film, this is the first one that comes to mind. simple, elegant and clever. i imagine it would be particularly beautiful printed on a nice, large piece of old cartridge paper.

the favourite
i’ve yet to see this film, but i remain a huge fan of yorgos lanthimos’ work and that of his poster designer, vasilis marmatakis. they, together, feel to me like one of the most vital forces in modern cinema. that said i’ve found most of the posters for this, his latest film, rather lackluster … until now. this poster below is lovely. everything from the typesetting that suggests ‘being separated out or split up or a-typical’, through to the small graphic picture frame that similarly splits the characters up, is great. on top of that you have a flat graphical element (the small frame) actually affecting a photographic element (olivia colman’s dress) to great optical effect. i’m sure this poster looks fantastic in the printed flesh, which is something i don’t necessarily feel with a lot of posters. these days whether film posters are actually going to be printed and how good they might look as a result, can often be a lowly afterthought.

the house that jack built
this is one of my favourite films of the year. this poster is, believe it or not, a shot from the film. having grown up — as the son of two painters — regularly looking at the paintings of géricault and caravaggio, i find the fact that this is a film still particularly stimulating. lars von trier’s films are often a cause for concern with some people and this poster reminds those that have seen it of the more philosophical and logical side of the film. much like with his previous nymphomaniac films, it’s this psychologically investigative narrative through-line that grants lars the ability to reach deeper into the dark heart of humanity without losing touch with his audiences. this is particularly important in today’s increasingly divided, politically-correct world.

self destructive boys
braulio amado is an excellent graphic designer. he doesn’t usually make film posters, but he seems to take to any new subject like a fish to water. i know nothing about this short film but the poster is both funny and mysterious. the day it came out i found myself sending it to other design friends, whilst at the same time i wrote to braulio himself to ask how he did that ever so beautiful blurring / disintegration of the text. the best work makes you want to be better at what you do.

suspiria
there have been a wealth of promotional items produced for luca guadagnino’s suspiria remake. as a filmmaker i very much appreciate his work, however i’ve never seen him produce a good poster for his films until now. the poster below is part of a second or third wave of promotional materials for the film that caught me quite off guard. legendary title designer dan perri’s now famed suspira ‘S’, when coupled with these very simple, softly lit, full-frame images from the set of the film, carries more magic than it ever did before. i’ve yet to see the film but i’m certainly all the more curious because of the elegant and minimal constraint of these designs combined with all the lovely details in each photograph.

blackkklansman
kenny gravillis triumphant poster for spike lee’s latest joint has been a great pleasure to see on the walls of new york city during this particularly dark political time. the work needs no real analysis of course, but to me it represents what they call ‘design for social change’ and in every way is good in my book. whether you see the film or not, hopefully the image sets your mind on fire, whether that be about the past, the present or the days to come.

suspiria
last but not least i wanted to draw attention to this particularly beautiful, unused poster by my contemporary, midnight marauder. i remember the day he posted it on instagram and my jaw dropped a little. i then looked at it a little closer and my jaw dropped some more. just look at those confoundingly brilliant little red dots, let alone that utterly mysterious face. is it someone from the film? is it some strange amalgamation of dakota johnson and tilda swinton? i had not seen the film yet so i didn’t know, but good lord this image haunted me. as a friend once pointed out, the artworks that often most impress us are the ones we cannot deconstruct. the simple fact that i have no idea who this person is yet feel she is perfectly situated in the world of this film is a remarkable feat.

for the purposes of this article i did some research and discovered that the picture is actually of one helga testorf, who used to secretly model for her neighbour the artist andrew wyeth. in many ways i’m now sad to know this, as the mystery in that face was so perfectly aligned with this film i’d yet to see. this in turn is of course what makes the poster so unique to me. the free association of an entirely unrelated image to a film in this way is often what makes midnight marauder’s posters so strong.

cheers.

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film title sequence + motion graphics work_062117

memphis titles

it’s been a while since we updated this blog thing. it occurred to us that we really need to make a record of our gradual move into the world of film title sequences. unfortunately the way this website is constructed means that it’s hard to highlight this kind of work, and so we hope this article gives you an inkling of what we’ve done and hope yet to do in this field.

over the last few years we’ve been asked to do an increasing amount of motion graphics work for films, and whilst the work is often relatively rudimentary in terms of graphic design, the projects have certainly been respectable. in this regard it’s worth noting what kind of films we’ve worked on and observing the more subtle compliment a thing as simple as a typeface choice or type placement can offer a film. which isn’t to say we wouldn’t rather do something more explosive graphically, but more often than not a film doesn’t need that. not at all.

anyway, after a while in this business you realize that you need to just let the work speak for itself, rather than doing a whole lot of talking about your process or whatever. so here are a series of title cards and stills from various film productions, where you can see our motion graphic design work at play.

 

light up the night
co-directed by matt sundin and caspar newbolt. featuring drawings by john delucca and animation by josiah newbolt.

light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles
light up the night titles

 

entertainment
directed by rick alverson.

entertainment titles
entertainment titles
entertainment titles
entertainment titles
entertainment titles
entertainment titles
entertainment titles

 

dark night
directed by tim sutton. featuring in-film poster design and ‘google maps sequence’ compositing.

dark night titles
dark night titles
dark night titles
dark night titles
dark night titles
dark night titles
dark night titles
dark night titles

 

take what you can carry
directed by matthew porterfield.

take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles
take what you can carry titles

 

live cargo
directed by logan sandler.

live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles
live cargo titles

 

memphis
directed by tim sutton.

memphis titles
memphis titles
memphis titles
memphis titles
memphis titles
memphis titles
memphis titles
memphis titles

 

the convention
directed by jessica dimmock.

the convention titles
the convention titles
the convention titles
the convention titles
the convention titles

 

pavilion
directed by tim sutton.

pavilion titles
pavilion titles
pavilion titles
pavilion titles

 

muito romântico
directed by distruktur.

 

stay tuned for more work from us for jonas carpignano’s a ciambra, matthew porterfield’s sollers point and ari gold’s the song of sway lake.

cheers.

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memphis amongst best film posters of 2014_121614

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MUBI and slate have put together a list of their best film posters of 2014. we’re honoured to say that our poster for memphis came in 7th place, and must again thank adrian curry who put the list together for the recognition. it goes without saying that such an accolade would have been impossible without the belief and support of?tim sutton and the rest of the film’s crew. it’s not often that a relationship?of this kind allows such a level of artistic?freedom, and furthermore that this is one particular collaboration that’s only just getting started.

cheers,

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memphis awarded movie poster of the day_082914

memphis_poster_layered_v2_resized

our poster for tim sutton’s memphis was kindly selected as movie poster of the day by adrian curry on his blog of the same name. adrian writes for film comment, MUBI?and is the design director for zeitgeist films. we’re thrilled to have made the cut ? thank you, adrian.

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film posters (part 3)_060414

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here’s another selection of film poster work from us. once again, some of these pieces were used whilst?others ended up hitting the cutting room floor.?either way they all offer an insight into our working process with our collaborators,?and consequently the?overall climate of film poster design today.

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once again a huge thank you to all the filmmakers who’ve given us the chance to work on their films. the process is always as thrilling as it is educational.

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call girl_031114

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in the last days of 2013 whilst on a longish trip back to england, i sat down with my brother to watch a film called call girl. we didn’t know anything about it – in fact i’d picked it up because i liked the typography used for the film’s logo. it was close to midnight, we filled our whiskey glasses and slung the disc into the playstation. i said one word during the entire viewing. in fact i said that one word twice. the word was ‘fuck.’

call girl came out in 2012. it’s basically unheard of here in the US, and even harder to get a physical copy of. heck it was tough enough to find a pressing of the soundtrack that anyone would ship to england, let alone new york. whether this is to do with the controversy that surrounds the film, or simply because for some reason it failed to pickup a good distribution deal, is unclear.

call girl documents a political catastrophe in the 1970s that is still such a sore matter for those involved in sweden, that the film had to be heavily edited after it’s festival screenings in order for it to make the public domain. without going into the story, i’ll add that it’s one of the most beautifully written, shot, edited, scored, acted and packaged films i’ve seen in a long time. after watching it i immediately picked up a copy for a friend in england, and have since screened my copy for as many friends as i can in new york.

soon after returning from england i began to steal an hour here or there amongst my regular projects, to piece together notes, take screen snapshots and cut together various layouts. a day or so ago a much larger film related project landed – one that would truly require every second i had left in each day – and i had to save the files, export them and put this particular aside to rest.

there’s no real need to go into why the posters turned out the way they did, but they certainly follow my long-running ethos that the artwork supporting a film or record should in every capacity echo the tone, message and overall aesthetic value of that work. i hope you enjoy each of the 10 editions i’ve put together in different ways, and ultimately take the time to see the film (and buy the soundtrack) as soon as you can.

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my gratitude to daniel carlsten who’s typographic work on the film drew me to it. my congratulations to ?for such masterful directing, to hoyte van hoytema (let the right one in) for a level of cinematography the likes of which i wish every film could be blessed with, and lastly to mattias b?rjed for an incendiary soundtrack. one i am?still trying to get on vinyl.

for more information about the film click here.

cheers,

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memphis_011414

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.51.03 AM

tim sutton’s new feature film MEMPHIS is having it’s US premiere at the sundance film festival this week. the film stars the incendiary singer willis earl beal and chases, in the form of a filmic essay, the ever-fleeting soul of the creative process. as some of you know we have had the great honour of working on this film and you can read more about that in an interview we did with black book magazine here.

since putting together the posters for the film, we’ve created a small teaser site to celebrate the sundance acceptance. additionally the film has since been written up in dazed & confused magazine. to say that it’s a thrill to see the film (not to mention one of our photographs) in that legendary periodical would be an understatement.

here’s wishing the whole memphis film team all the success at sundance and beyond. it’s not often enough that films as experimental and searching as this get this sort of recognition.

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thanks to indiewire you can view a brand new trailer for the film below. do please immerse yourself for a moment. to paraphrase one of my favourite songs – nothing quite like the feel of something new.


lastly, if you have the means – see willis earl beal perform live. he’s touring europe in february and i can honestly say that there are very few out there of his caliber. lyrically, musically and performance-wise, he will most assuredly smash you to pieces.

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the east_060113

the east poster 8

fans of hard working, thought provoking science fiction would do well to tune into the work of brit marling, zal batmanglij and mike cahill. collectively through their films sound of my voice and??another earth?they are pushing for a return to the lo-fi, conceptual science fiction that andrei tarkovsky and his ilk brought to our shores in the 1970s. these days watching a film that presents a challenging alternative and forward thinking perspective, in which most complex visual effect is a tattoo or another planet in the sky, you can’t help but smile. the world has fallen so hard to its knees at the shrine of multi-million dollar visual effects that we’ve had to pretend it’s the only entertaining solution we have left for fear of revealing our broken knee-caps. fortunately this new crop of angry young directors, including shane carruth, seem out to prove that we don’t need a great deal of money to take you on a hard and fast trip into the vortex of psychological imbalances our future clearly holds.

i was fortunate enough to catch an early screening of director zal batmanglij’s new film?the east in new york a couple of weeks ago. whilst zal has steered away from science-fiction for this outing, its anger for change is still achingly present and once again i raised my proverbial glass to the immense power of a relatively low-budget production and how loud it can scream when in the right hands.

of course i had an inkling that once i’d seen the film i’d end up in front of my computer carving out some visual bits and pieces just to help myself calm down. i’d come very close with?sound of my voice and another earth, and as some will have noted?could not be held back when it came to?beyond the black rainbow. so what you see here, both above and below, are a series of posters i made as the images, sounds and ideas that?the east presented to me lingered in my head.

the east poster 6
the east poster 3
the east poster 4
the east poster 7
the east poster 5
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not fade away (part 2)_012913

not fade away website

our website for david chase’s rock ‘n’ roll, coming-of-age feature?not fade away, is now live. as hinted at in our previous post?the site represents our first public foray into hollywood studio design work.?paramount pictures came to us upon the recommendation of jon reiss, and requested that we create an award-winning website for them for a forthcoming feature film. they then provided us with some examples of the kinds of websites they felt were truly successful on a number of levels – their choices were excellent and we were excited by their expectations. in fact it was in every way one of the more exciting moments in our now-10 year life as a company, as we’d dreamed about such an opportunity since the moment we saw hi-res! flaunting their talents in a similar fashion 10 years earlier.

as is our usual way, we conceived of three differing, strong and complex approaches that we felt would capture at the very least the tonal nature of the film, as best we could determine from their words about the film alone. they were excited by our suggestions and not long after this we were given a chance to see the film at press screening in new york.

of all our ideas, paramount wanted to move forward with our suggestion of a a series of location-aware, fully soundtracked, living photographs that would be tailored to each of the site’s sections. to achieve this we first pitched the relatively new technique of creating PNG animations as a more compatible and controllable form of GIF animation ? in essence, canvas-based video. it was a technique that we’d first noticed being used by jon skinner on the website for?sublime text, and later, the apple website, and one that we knew we could adapt in order to bring the site comfortably to the iphone and ipad.

on top of this, because we could not use music from the film, we had approval on the creation of supporting soundscapes, custom radio recordings and also a full musical score in support of each animation. our trick, of course, being that each soundscape would be different depending on where you were looking at the site within the USA, and the weather outside at that time. each radio news report would be native to your location, should you have been alive in the 60s, and all the songs you heard on the radio would be imitations tracks of bands?from the so-called british invasion of the US. in essence, we were striving to conjure up a disarmingly fragile series of moments in an otherwise rather raucous film, and these looping visual tangents would allow us to illustrate the various tonal elements of the film without having to seriously spoil any of it.

not fade away website, filmmaker page

after making notes during the screening of the scenes we felt would be most suited to this idea, we were sent a quicktime reel of the scenes to produce compositions from.

we then started in earnest to create the soundscapes, radio recordings and music. gavin singleton, who runs our studio in london, headed up the audio production. he created a series of soundscape beds for each scene, and also cut up and mixed the other elements together as they were passed over to him. zach barocas, who manages our studio here in new york and who’s had previous work as a voiceover artist, recorded hundreds of custom, historical radio news and weather reports. adam shaw and pete newton, two trusted commercial composers from england, set about recording a series of rock ‘n’ roll songs in differing styles. giles and i then set about vetting the various elements, offering feedback where possible, in order to harmonize the audio with the visuals we were developing.?it was perhaps the most exciting, unified team effort we’d invested our time in to date – a real showcase of all our various talents.

towards the end of production we found out it was in fact possible to use the music from the film, as long as we used only 30 second clips of it. this meant we had to replace our custom sound work with a player featuring short loops much like itunes does in its track previews.

the site is an unusual and beautiful site in many respects, and we are proud of it.?we hope you enjoy the experience we’ve created. if you’re interested in taking a look at the site with the original sound engine still present (including locale-based news reports, custom rock songs and louder soundscapes), you can do so by clicking here. we’re calling it our director’s cut. we’re thankful to have been commissioned to build such an engine even if it was never used, and one day hope to be able to re-develop it for another project in some capacity.

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film posters (part 2)_011613

future weather poster

following up on our previous film poster round-up, here are a selection of recent film posters we’ve produced for various filmmaker collaborators. it’s worth noting this time around that some of the editions you see here weren’t actually used to promote the respective films in the end. however in retrospect we felt they were worth seeing nevertheless – if anything they can now be seeing as ‘fan posters’ of a sort.

LUV poster
detroit unleaded poster
pavilion poster
brooklyn brothers beat the best poster

as ever we look forward to what’s next and further honing our skills in this really very new and exciting aspect of what we do. a huge shout out and thanks to the filmmakers who’ve granted us these opportunities thus far.

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