How much is a great movie poster worth to your project?
Well, the movie poster provides most of the audience’s first glimpse into the world of the film. From that first moment, they will be using it to make decisions about the film’s story, genre, themes and crucially, whether they want to watch it – a first impression that may be difficult to change.
Put it this way, without ever even stepping foot on your film set – your poster designer can have one of the biggest impacts on the success of your film. And it’s important that you get the working relationship between you and your designer right if you want your film to thrive.
With that in mind, check out my golden rules for getting this just right.
1. Get the right person for the job
A great working relationship starts before the job itself. You should consider if this person can deliver the type of design you are looking for. Think beyond just budget and reflect on their design style and level of knowledge and expertise. Using these criteria will give you creative confidence in your designer and form an instant level of trust between you.
Creating your film poster is a collaborative process – so you should also think about how well the two of you get on. Do you find communication with them easy? You don’t have to become best friends but if there’s a clash in your approach to the work or your personalities – it’s probably a bad fit.
2. Agree a plan
Before any work begins, agree on all the details such as timeframe and deliverables, and get any paperwork sorted. Make sure you ask any questions you have at this stage – and throughout the process.
Be transparent with your designer about your expectations – e.g. how often do you expect them to check in with you? And be aware of the cost of extra work – if you think you might want it down the line (i.e. extra rounds of amends to the design)
3. Keep them informed
I personally like as much information as is available on a project. Reading the script for instance, can give me great new ideas for the poster design that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across.
In any case, ensure that your designer knows the genre, themes and at least the basic plot of the film. Give them a feel for the film’s tone/mood by using a moodboard to share examples.
If you have any existing ideas – definitely throw them for discussion, but try not to be too prescriptive. If you’ve hired the right person (as above), then you are paying not just for their skills but their creative imagination – so use it!
4. Make feedback productive
A word to wise – the first draft won’t be perfect. It’s not meant to be. The finished design is something that is going to emerge from your collaboration. A good designer will give you the space to help the project evolve. A first draft is only the beginning.
Be as clear and specific as possible. Consider the main elements of a design – general aesthetic, colour, imagery, layout and typography – and use them to describe what you feel needs to change. For instance: ‘The colour palette seems too bright and simple for the complexity of the story.’
Present problems, not solutions. This might sound a bit crazy, but it makes more sense than you think! A designer’s job is to come up with the solutions to visual problems. If you give them a direct change, say ‘change this font’ then: a) they might have a more effective fix up their sleeve, and b) this might create other problems you hadn’t thought of! Try something more like: ‘the typography seems a bit too serious, I’d like to emphasise the lighter elements of the film’.
By the way, positive as well as negative feedback is super useful. And not just for your designer’s ego. When you say you love something – it’s a real sign that we’re on the right track and to keep following our instincts. Remember that you know your story inside out – and we are still playing catch-up to that knowledge.
5. Know when enough’s enough
You are so close to your film, that in your mind – there will almost always be another way to present it at it’s best. Try to take a step back (I know it’s hard) and see the poster through a stranger’s eyes. Does it feel true to genre and story? Is it a film you’d like to watch?
Have a good think before your final round of amends about what changes you really think are necessary and try to avoid endless tweaking.
6. Enjoy the journey
Your movie poster is one of the most exciting ways to see your film project come to life. You get to imagine it on billboards, in reviews, even at home on someone’s wall. Enjoy it! Remember why exactly you made your film – and have fun getting it out there!
For consultation on a movie poster or any other graphic design services, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.