Why You Should Befriend A Designer (and think like an advertising art director)

Hello Monday. Film Doctor once again kick-starts the week with a healthy dollop of ‘Prescriptions.’

Remember when we talked marketing your project? Well, a part of this process is packaging and creating a brand identity – a bit like creating a wrapper that would fit your candy.

Consider the following:


They are not only iconic movie posters – they are posters that make up a film’s identity. The visual brand representation, if we use advertising jargon. Forget for a moment the fact that you already know each of the above stories. What do the posters tell you? Do they intrigue you? Hook you? Excite you? Seeing these images as a DVD cover (again, pretending that it’s the first time you’ve come across these films) – would that make you pick the film from the shelf?

Now, consider these:

The above films are on the ‘indie’ side of the industry, yet they are also successful and recognisable enough. Again, what do the posters tell you about the projects? In fact, do they ‘speak’ to you at all?

Finally, consider these:


Food for thought – all of the above films are ‘straight-to-DVD’ titles (moreover, available only from one distributor online). Now, we can’t tell why exactly these projects didn’t secure any further distribution or sales representation, or why they didn’t screen in cinemas near you. At the end of the day, there are many factors that come into play, that define the faith of a movie. What we can comment on though is the failure to deliver an attractive package – even purely on visual representation.

Although you might not judge the book by its cover, you definitely do so with film (it’s a visual medium after all). And when you present your project to distributors or sales agents, you will give them not just a screener but a whole pack of accompanying promotional material – from synopsis and director’s statement & bio to publicity stills. And it would be a matter of looks before content – the second they see the images, conclusions are made. Just like with an ad in a magazine. Or the shiny, bright-colored wrapper on a chocolate bar.

Your film has to sell itself way before the distributor/buyer/agent/cinema owner presses ‘Play’ on the DVD set. That’s where having excellent posters, flyers, publicity stills and any other relevant visual supplements can make or break your chances. Think about it – the execs you are going to approach have never ever heard of your projectYou also probably don’t have enough credentials as of yet. The execs would need to ‘buy’ your idea – just like with advertising. And how do advertising people do it? They come up with catchy visuals – posters, billboards, labels… images sell the contents.

Your film is a great product that needs suitable packaging and presentation. And if the ‘wrapper’ doesn’t look the part, the content might never be discovered.

Monday Prescription No.8 – Take a leaf out of advertisers’ book and sell your project with an appealing packaging / Invest in well-crafted posters

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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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