There was a last minute need of graphics for the covers of four pitch documents to be taken to Toronto for TIFF. There wasn’t the weeks needed to get an actual graphic designer and go through the proper steps of establishing motif of the film, generate concepts to choose from and then iterate down to the best images to perfectly represent the story being pitched.
Instead, I had only a little better than a day to put these four together and there were severe constraints on what I could use. Even if I could have gathered the images of actors and acquired the rights to the photos, none are officially attached and so I couldn’t put them on the covers. I had to use my own photographs and manipulate them to be more abstract so they wouldn’t be easily recognized – or go with inanimate elements that could plausibly be representative of the feature’s themes.
One of the features, the one that I have the rough draft done for, is ‘Dead Man Switch’. It is an action/thriller with a hard sci-fi element and I wanted a cyborg, a female Secret Service Agent and a soldier to depict the primary elements of the script.
The cyborg on the left with the targeting eye is a picture of myself suitably abstracted, not because I wouldn’t give clearance but ‘cause I ain’t leading man pretty. The agent in the centre is a picture of a girl I met on a tour I was on in Europe back in 2002 with a pistol composited into her hand. She was abstracted so as not to be very recognizable, this time because I didn’t have a model release even though she was quite pretty. The soldier is actually a guard at a casino in Monaco from the same tour. The idea was to be archetypical but not specifically recognizable.
‘Monster Makers’ is a feature that I am outlining right now and is next for my keyboard once I have the rough draft of ‘Saving the Dead’ finished. For this one I had a picture of a machined plate of aluminum with another piece riveted to the upper corner (actually the inside of a door on the tug boat I worked on). I took a rough font and put it on a layer above the plate then distorted it to give the impression of a welder scoring the words into the plate. I then embossed a tagline along the bottom, trying to make it look like it had been milled out of the aluminum.
The faked welding turned out better than the fake machined tagline but it was three in the morning and I only had about an hour to put it together so I went with “good enough”.
Then there is the psychological drama ‘I Am Vengeance’. It is one that I may be hired to write based on the producer/director’s idea and so I am familiar with it but can’t talk about it. For this one, I needed the image of an angry girl and digging through my archives I found a picture I had taken at Christmas a few years back. It is of my cousin and she had smiled for the picture and then glared so I clicked the shutter again. Though she is a little younger here than the character, I think that it captures the feel of the script better than I had any right to expect for the few hours I had to put it together.
The fourth cover is for a horror film and it is another one that I am in line to write if development money is raised so I can’t talk about this story either. For this one, I used a picture I took of a Greek statue overlaid on another from almost the exact same angle that I took of an unwrapped Egyptian mummy. The layer effects build up an air of decay on the cold perfection of the marble.
I used a font that is more associated with a romance novel and then gave it the look of fresh spilled blood.
If you were to take the font effect off and delete the underlying picture of the mummy you are left with something that wouldn’t look terribly out of place on the shelf in the romance section. And it is sort of a romance… just not for everyone.
All told, they look like straight to video movies from the eighties but I can live with that since I am not trained as a graphic designer and I only had hours to create all four of them and I think they do look better than a blank sheet of paper with the title in the Papyrus font.