17 December 2013

The Freshman

Shopping for a last-minute holiday gift idea for the film lover in your life? Might I reccomend this swell print for the Janus Films re-release of The Freshman? It's designed by yours truly and is available through the Criterion Collection gift shop!

• The Criterion Collection Online Gift Store

23 September 2013

3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman

What happens when Hollywood glamour and post war neo-realist Italy meet? That was the question which directed the design decisions on this one. The Hollywood aesthetic of the late 1940s and early 50s is well known and easily recognized --and for anyone who appreciates Italian film publicity of that era, it's understood how much of that aesthetic was borrowed, filtered and repurposed for their domestic market. The Italians typically illustrated, painted and hand-lettered the film posters of that era. Check out David Kehr's Italian Film Posters (The Museum of Modern Art) for some stellar examples. Criterion wasn't going that route for this one. The imagery for 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman would all be photographic.

Booklet Cover, back (left) and front (right).
Even though there are fewer examples of photographic Italian film publicity from that era, if you look hard enough you can find them. They're typically black and white, two-color affairs. The effect is often raw and immediate. Pretty much what one might expect to see from a war ravaged society with limited technology at it's disposal.

For this set I tried to evoke as much of that feeling as possible. Most all of the headers used throughout the packaging are hand-drawn --Journey to Italy being the exception.

Critertion was looking to see Bergman exclusively as the face of this package. Three portraits representing the three movies. This was an approach that we'd used to great effect on 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg. Yet for that set the portraits were all different and the typographic treatment was the same. This time around the formula flipped. It was also important too to stress the three locations in which these stories took place. There are certainly worse ways to spend weeks on end than staring at Ingrid Bergman's face but a designer's gotta do what a designer's gotta do!

Establishing the look of the slipcase cover would likely dictate the look of the individual film covers. Or so I first thought. The lettering on the cover is my adaption of a typeface I spotted on an Italian poster --advertising a rice product of all things!-- it was era appropriate and had the kind of idiosyncrasies I was looking for. The trouble was there were only about 6 letters. So I needed to extrapolate an entire alphabet and also cook up a lighter weight too. It felt like applying this style to all three covers was going to get repetitive so I set out to come up with letterforms that would make each title distinct.

More sample spreads from the booklet.

I'll be updating this post over the next several days, adding more imagery and writing more about the process behind the piece. So I hope you'll come back!

12 September 2013

The Last Time I Saw Macao

My poster design for The Last Time I Saw Macao, directed by João Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata. Released by Cinema Guild. Opens today in Manhattan. Cinema Guild was great to work with, special thanks to Peter Kelly.

26 July 2013

The Wolverine

The best superhero movie of the summer opened today. I'm proud to have collaborated again with my great friend and filmmaker, James Mangold. The Wolverine is a fantastic Eastern-Western and delivers some hair-raising action along with the rich character study you'd expect from the guy who made 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line and the rest. Check it out. The title sequence comes at the end of this film after a mighty intense climax. The goal here was to go bold yet at the same time lay back a bit and give the audience a moment of rest (before the X-Men easter egg kicks in!). Pictured here is the main card from the sequence. Special thanks, too, to Bill Lebeda and David Midgen at Picture Mill!

11 July 2013

Things To Come - DVD Menus

Here's a look at some of my menu designs for the Criterion Collection edition of Things to Come. If you've seen the film you'll know know that there are some pretty crazy main titles as well as inter-titles throughout. Some of them appear to be painted on glass and then optically printed onto the action. While others appear to be cast, plaster letters shot in perspective enhanced by high-key lighting. It's a real treat. I looked to capture some of that with the headers you see here. Mine were achieved using 3D modeling software and futher noodling in Photoshop.

Some of these still have placeholder copy that were later updated after they left my desk.

01 July 2013

Safety Last! Seeing Red

Here's a alternate version of the Safety Last! packaging. It was in the running for quite a while before we pursued the version which was published. I originally went with the red type because it's commonly associated with danger and alarm and it played well with with the movie's title. There was some concern that the type on the clock face didn't go completely around --meaning the gap beneath where Harold Lloyd clutches the minute hand. So it was scrapped in favor of something which more organically filled the space. The red color hung in there for a good, long while and had found it's way into the first draft of the DVD menu designs.

27 June 2013

Safety Last! DVD Menus

These are some of the menu designs I created for the Criterion Collection edition of Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! I don't think you can help but ask during the movie's building climbing, clock dangling climax, "is that for real?". The answer to the question is more surprising and nuanced than one might expect. Even the film's plot even gets pretty meta on the subject. What's not revealed in the story is amply and rewardingly so in the generous supplements for the release. For the DVD menus as well as the packaging I looked to inject some reality tweaking into the design by building the type into the shots.

02 April 2013

Blow Out

These are a couple of unused cover concepts for The Criterion Collection edition of Brian De Palma's Blow Out. The brief at the time was to bring the technology of the story somehow on to the cover design. John Travolta plays a movie soundman who's an ear-witness to a murder. His tools of the trade are a microphone and a reel-to-reel recorder. There's a terrific shot of the tire going pop and it seemed a natural to me to fuse it with an image of a tape reel. When the Travolta character retreats to his sound studio to piece together the crime he attempts to synchronize it with a moving image --thus the perforated audio tape with the X that marks the spot. This was one of those titles where the type was freighted with specific requirements. The stars names have to appear above the title in the same size and color as the film title. It's a tricky proposition when their names are as long as they are and the film title is as short as it is. Eric Skillman came up with the cover that was ultimately used. He cleverly laid type over space and objects in the frame which helped to direct the eye and let the title be readily seen.

29 March 2013

Bigger Than Life

This is a little something from the archives, my booklet cover design (front + back) for The Criterion Collection edition of Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life (1956). There's a bit more going on than meets the eye. In addition to the title treatment, the imagery is a superimposition of two shots from the film --which are themselves each optical shots made of mulitple exposures. So it's really hard to say how many shots are involved here. The first comes from Ed Avery's (James Mason) hospital fever dream. The second comes during the film's climax --it's all of two or three frames from the film-- when, torqued in a homicidal rage, Avery sees red.

28 March 2013

Safety Last!

Coming to a theater near you! My poster for the Janus Films release of the great Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! Not coincidentally based on my cover artwork for The Criterion Collection's release (in June) of the very same. It's a PACKED disc lots of fun and illumninating extras, plus some Llyod shorts which I believe have never been available for home video before. It's a good one. I'll post more on the package as the release date draws near! Expect copious use of exclamation marks!

12 February 2013

The Gold Rush

A while back The Criterion Collection asked me to contribute some title treatment designs for their release of Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush. I had a lot of fun coming up with a bunch, inspired by woodtype posters of the great California gold rush of 1849. The creative direction changed a bit and none were used. It happens. This is one.