Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Business of One-Sheets

I was introduced, a little while ago, to one-sheets by John August. Well, the official name I was introduced to. I was already familiar with what they are: movie posters.

Most of us cinemaphiles know that the one-sheets of old are much better and more sophisticated than the one-sheets of now. But, I was introduced to this website by amazing director Jon Favreau, which features artists' modern, sophisticated, stylish, and incredibly original one-sheets of contemporary and classic films. This is not a new trend in the modern art world, in fact here's another source for what Mr. August calls "unsheets" at My Modern Metropolis and also here.

Less this.

As you can see, the graphics of these posters are all driven by the content of the movie. These artists consume these films, get to the heart of them, and use that as a way to represent the film in one image. For example, if you had one image to express, what you feel, is the most important aspect of the film, what would you choose?

More this.
The resulting product are images that say things about our culture on multiple levels. One of them is how deep of an affect films have on us. Clearly these artists have spent considerable time not only creating these posters, but also in watching and analyzing the films. They break down the tone, the camera angles, and the meaning of certain poignant images in these films and mashed them all together in one image that is designed to get to the core of the film.

In a simple sense, what I'm getting at here, is that the posters linked to above are all examples of what the motion picture industry is missing: class, sophistication, taste, and style.

Now, obviously, these posters are infinitely better than what studios are pumping out as ways to collect our hard earned dollars. My conundrum is why doesn't the studio use these as advertisements for their films?

Faye Dunaway as beautiful as ever.

Granted, they are not for every demographic. This much is true. But they are for the biggest and wealthiest demographic: 18 to 25 year olds at metropolitan colleges.

My proposal: The studios distributing, and therefore advertising, these major Hollywood releases, should commission works by local artists in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and LA to create "unsheets" like these to be posted and used as advertisements in these cities. That way they not only add a local feel and flavor to the promotion of their films, but also play towards the abundance of "creative" 18 to 25 year olds coming out of progressive, WASPy, suburban schools.

Imagine in this in the halls of NYU's Tisch, promoting an alumni's next film and maybe made by an alumnus as well.

On top of that, if they're feeling generous, they can cut a deal with the local artists to split the profits from all poster sales 50/50. That's pretty good. If my recently post-grad graphic design friend got commissioned by Warner Brothers to do the posters for their next release I'd buy a few. Wouldn't you? The "buy local" movement is still holding strong.

Either way, how we present what we create stands a lot for what we believe in. Clearly, the film industry doesn't believe much in style and class. Unfortunately, though, the film industry is also a major taste-maker for our culture. It's important that every once and a while our culture tears down and starts anew with what we idolize. Rebirth is growth, and if you look at every truly successful artist (the "true" coming from longevity) image regeneration has played a major part in their success.

I would see this movie in a heartbeat. I didn't even like No Country for Old Men.

The film industry isn't just the last industry that wants to fall behind the curve of what's popular, it's the industry that absolutely can not afford to. And, right now, these are pretty damn trendy.

Think about it, Hollywood.

The Noir of  The Social Network.
Paramount aspect of the story. Titanic as a thriller.


Cate Hahneman said...

Hear Hear Matt!! Loved your post. I have seen these "unsheets" before and am always so much more intrigued by them than most Hollywood posters. They DO have class and sophistication but more importantly they treat the audiences like intelligent adults which, as the WASPy collegiate demographic, we are. Clicked on the link to the Reelizer site and found a bunch of "unsheets" I'd never seen before that are incredible: Clue, Wall-E, Jaws, and the Shining to name a few! Thanks!

Andrew said...

Very cool - love the posters. I agree that a lot of current posters look uninspired and uninteresting. One change from much older film posters is that now photographs are used, whereas posters like the ones for 'Casablanca' or any 50s musical were all painted - allowing the poster to stand on its own rather than be a direct representation of what you would see in the film.