Postcard Ad Review: Mulberry Child

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“Mulberry Child” (2011) is a documentary film written and directed by Susan Morgan Cooper, in which Jian Ping uses a memoir of her childhood to try to help her Americanized daughter understand what life was like during China’s Cultural Revolution. The postcard is very fitting for a documentary because the banner image is not filtered in any way, and has a very raw, authentic look. It clearly represents the tone of the film. It also really captures the heart of the film by presenting the protagonists in a realistic, touching manner. There is something very sweet about the photo that would make one interested to watch the film.

The red that is used for the title and the line “NARRATED BY JACQUELINE BISSET” is not really working for me because I feel that it is a little jarring. I more down-to-earth hue that balances one of the colors in the image would have been more aesthetically pleasing. The red is a little too flashy for a film like this. Also, the production credits listed at the bottom could have been positioned such that they do not overlap the people in the photo. In the portion where there is an overlap at the bottom, the text becomes a little difficult to read. Plus, the link to the film website kind of disappears along with the credits. I would have positioned it differently or at least changed the color to black.

The tagline works well because it is short and snappy. The fact that it is phrased like a question engages the audience and makes them think. The question is rather profound and likely to stick with the reader. The use of the word “your” is another way of actively engaging the viewers because it makes them feel like they are being spoken to directly. However, the font used feels too basic and doesn’t have a poster-quality to it. A snappier font would have made the tag line even more eye-catching.

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Here is the same postcard in the portrait format. An extra film festival laurel and a review are added to this version, making the composition tighter. This version works just as well as the other one, but I think the positioning of the film festival laurels and the review feels a little out of place. If all the text had been aligned at the margins, the look might have been been neater. However, the title stand out more in this version making the poster more attention grabbing, which is good.

Film Logo Font: Brainstorming

Today I started brainstorming ideas for my film title logo. The first step was to find the right font. I ideally wanted a font that represented the idea of being “split” in some way. I wanted the lettering to be destroyed/distorted in a manner that appeared imperfect. A titular font that is too neat and simple would not suit the theme of my film. Also, the font would have to have an edgy look to it as my film is a twisted, serious drama. The logo cannot be cutesy and pretty.

First I went on Adobe Photoshop CS6 and went through all the fonts available on there, narrowing it down to my top six choices:

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However, none of these struck me as particularly extraordinary and I was not satisfied, so I decided to expand my search. I went on dafont.com and scanned through their massive library of font choices. Here are some of my favorites from there:

I immediately found that these options were far closer to what I was looking for. While the Photoshop fonts looked far too neat and simplistic, these fonts are more bold, edgy and eye-catching. The eroded look and feel fits the genre of my film, these fonts actually look like they could belong on a poster.

As I kept looking, I found the font which instantly became my top choice:

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This font immediately caught my eye. It was almost exactly what I was looking for. It is very bold, which is good because the logo on a poster has to stand out and attract attention. Also, the letters are split in just the right manner, fitting my criteria of having the logo font be “split” in some way to reflect the name of the movie. The distortion of the lettering is perfect because it appears broken, but not so broken that it becomes illegible. The clarity is not compromised in any way. This font really seems to fit all my checkpoints and is very visually appealing. It is sure to look striking in the film and on the poster. I have not yet made my final decision, but I am definitely leaving towards this last font. However, I will take some time to evaluate the options and ask for the opinion of others before choosing.

Editing: Audio

Over the past few days I finished laying out the background music for my short film. The audio editing not only involves the background music, but also the sound effects and dialogue. I added all the necessary effects such as the slap and the “thud” sound effects and synced them with the video. I also adjusted the volumes of the dialogue, sound effects and background music so that they were perfectly balanced. This audio mixing was a tricky process but I started to get the hang of it more and more as I went along.

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I will continue to tweak things and improve and adjust, but my basic framework is complete – audio and video. Out of the 6 tracks that I shortlisted, I ended up using 5 of them (all except Baba Yaga):

  • Ossuary 6 – Air: This piece served as the general background music for almost the entire film. It has a great, low key sound that is both eerie and not attention grabbing. It was very useful to just have this in the background in the scenes where the mother and therapist are talking or when non-dramatic actions are taking place.
  • Ossuary 3 – Words: I used this piece of music only one at the very beginning when the camera tilts up to Arya for the very first time. This music layered on top of Ossuary 6 creates an ominous sound that adds to the impact of the drama when Arya is revealed.
  • Ossuary 2 – Turn: I used small portions of this piece whenever I needed a very dramatic musical cue at the climax of a scene. This was the music I used when Arya slapped Anamika and also when Ashvita throws the scrunched up paper in rage. I also used this when the mother and the therapist are running up the stairs as it adds to the tension of the moment.
  • Piece For Disaffected Piano Two: This simple piano music was used when Ashvita was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The clunky sound of the piano keys playing against the discordant off-key sound of her voice has an eerie, mystical effect.
  • Satiate Percussion: This percussion piece was the music I used every time Anamika glares at one of the alter-identities throughout the film. This piece of music is like a recurring motif that ties the entire film together. It was an intense, deep sound that perfectly fits the genre of the film and significantly heightens the dramatic tension of any scene that it is added to.

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Transitioning smoothly between the different pieces of music and the dialogue proved to be one of the biggest challenges. It took a lot of intricate editing and timing to get it just right so that the audio would appear seamless and smooth. I used a lot of fade-in and fade-out to blend the different pieces of music together in a manner that wouldn’t be jarring. Another trick I used was the Groove Delay effect for when Ashvita is singing and also at the end when all the personalities are speaking at the same time. This effect doubles the audio, creating a faint echo that has a haunting, lingering sound.

The very beginning and the very end of the film have no music. The opening just has the sound of Arya’s feet hitting the closet for several seconds before the music slowly starts to fade in. This suggests that Anamika’s brain is silent as she sleeps and as she wakes up, the personalities slowly manifest one by one. Her brain slowly will get noisier but at this time, this is the only sound she hears. At the end, all the music stops and then Anamika says the words “I’m fine” followed by silence for several seconds. This conveys that when she says “I’m fine” in her own voice, all the other voices are shut out for an instant and there is quiet in her head. Having no music at the start and finish creates an ominous, chilling sound, and has the effect of coming full circle.

There is also no music when the last “DO IT” is heard, followed by the “thud”. This is to highlight the impact of the words and the intensity of the fall, and also convey that right before she jumps “DO IT” is the only thing that Arya (Anamika) hears. Everything blacks out for a second and she hears that command loud and clear and obeys it. The several seconds of silence following the jump when we see Arya (Anamika) on the floor are when her brain is shut off due to the impact of the fall. She is in shock and doesn’t hear anything and neither do the audience in that moment.

Film Logos: Review

The logo of any film is very important because it will be the first thing the audience sees. On a poster or a website, it will be the component most prominently featured and in the film itself, it will usually be the first image on the screen. Therefore, it is essential to make a good first impression with the logo design.

The name of the film should be presented in a manner that is creative, eye-catching and bold. It should not look cliche , but it should be practical in that it should be readable. The design can’t be so twisted and weird that the audience can’t even read the name of the film clearly. They should be able to instantly see and register the design so as to increase brand awareness for the film. Thus, simplistic and artistic logos usually tend to work the best. The logo should also reflect the genre/theme of the film and give audiences a hint at what to expect. If the logo looks totally different from the actual movie, it will surely throw them off.

Before designing the title logo for my short film, I wanted to review some logos that I liked and see why they worked so well.

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The “Harry Potter” logo is one of the most recognizable logos around the world. The reason it works so well is because it is stylish, simple and artistic. It is not overdone, but just right. The font choice perfectly fits the genre of the film as it looks fantastical, sharp and striking. The lighting bolt used as a part of the letter “P” is a perfect creative choice because of Harry Potter’s iconic lighting scar. This is how the film logo relates back to the film and establishes a close tie with the story. The gold lettering works really well because gold is often associated with fantasy and the movie is a fantasy. I also love the fact that the letters are slightly disordered and three dimensional, as they appear dynamic like they’re jumping off the screen.

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9aa28527ab7cd94f5fbcb0553631fb9f“Rio” and “Home” are both bright, animated children’s films and the logos certainly reflect that. The colors used are vivid and eye-catching with striking blues, oranges, purples and oranges, and mirror the color scheme of the film itself. Even the fonts used are bubbly and fun. All of this screams animation and kids. As the target audience is young children, the logo is designed in a manner that would be appealing to them. These bright, cartoony logos are bound to catch their eyes and trigger their interest.

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The “Ghostbusters” logo is one of the most iconic in cinematic history, mainly as a result of the animated “no ghosts” cartoon in placement of the “O”. This small creative element transformed the “Ghostbusters” logo from just another film logo into a classic symbol. It is a recognizable feature that everybody immediately associates with the film. Having something striking and bold like this in the film logo can be very useful as it ensures that people will remember the film. The dark lettering and faint glow surrounding the letters create a surreal feel that reflects theme of the film as it is about ghosts and the paranormal. But the film is a comedy, so the cute, animated ghosts adds an element of fun and prevents the film from coming across as too serious.

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I found this logo for “The Lego Movie” to be simply terrific because it is so unusual and creative. The logo itself is a very intricate work of art. Designing the letters to look like the three-dimensional structure made out of legos is so apt, and it works really well because the final piece is instantly attention grabbing and memorable. This is a perfect example of using extensive creativity while still retaining practicality, because while the logo is really new and interesting and fresh, it is still very easily legible. It is the kind of simplistic, yet striking design that will stick in people’s minds. Additionally, the colors red, grey, white and black work really well together and are very aesthetically pleasing to look at. This logo works on all levels.

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The logo for the Oscar-nominated film “Room” is very basic and simple, but works perfectly for the film. “Room” is a very grounded, social-realism drama, so an overly decorative, flashy logo would not be appropriate. The font choice is pleasing and straightforward, with the thin rectangle around the word completing the design in a very neat manner.The coloring is kept neutral and white. The logo reflects the raw, earthy tone of the film. This is not a boring logo, but rather a well-constructed, minimalistic one.

Postcard Ad Review: Sausage

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This postcard advertisement for the comedy animated short film “Sausage” stood out to me as very interesting and eye-catching. The first thing that struck me was the colors. The three main colors used – olive green, purple and blue –  work together perfectly along with the white, creating an extremely aesthetically pleasing look. Each color represents a character from the film, and thus instantly gives viewers an idea about tone of the film. The three characters are evenly distributed across the landscape width of the poster such that none is more prominent than the other, and the design looks balanced.

As this is the poster for an animated film, the fonts used for the text all look bubbly and animated themselves. This, along with the colorful cartoon images, really brings out the fact that this film is a comedy, and that is very important. The title logo uses a bold, fun font and combines the olive green and purple used in the body of the poster. These two colors are repeatedly used in all the film festival laurels and bottom credits, tying the poster together. The film festival acclaim is symmetrically placed on the poster in a manner that doesn’t feel cluttered. Thus, despite the playful look, the poster still has a certain visual structure that makes it easily legible and not chaotic. It is important to showcase the various film festival wins and nominations as this lets the audience know that the film was critically acclaimed, and thus makes them more likely to be interested in viewing the film themselves.

An important feature of this poster is the link to the film website, which is prominently displayed at the bottom. This text is in black, unlike the rest of the text. This makes the line stand out and draws particular attention to it. This is necessary as the film website is an important promotion tool and cannot go unnoticed. I will be sure to include the film website link on my poster too.

Website builder: Wix

The website builder I have chosen for creating my short film website is wix.com. I chose this software because it is easy to navigate and offers a wide range of design options, allowing me room to work creatively and freely. The first thing I did upon choosing wix.com, was purchase my domain name  – http://www.split-short-film.com. Then, I proceeded to select one of the templates offered and start work. I chose a template that was associated with a documentary film because it would give me a solid starting point and a base to work off of. However, I quickly began re-structuring the page layouts and getting rid of the template format. I experimented with the different tools available and familiarized myself with how the site works. With this basic groundwork in place, I can begin working on the actual design of my short film website.

Poster Reviews

Prior to designing my film festival postcard advertisement, I wanted to review some popular film posters and observe what makes them work and what doesn’t. Doing this will give me a good foundation in terms of inspiration and technique before I proceed to work. Even though a film festival postcard advertisement is slightly different from a conventional film poster, they share a lot of similar elements and serve similar purposes. Looking at film posters is definitely beneficial as it will open my eyes to a broad range of different ideas.

Moonlight-film-poster

The poster for ‘Moonlight’ is a striking work of art. The poster takes three different photographs of three faces (the film’s lead characters) and combines them to look like one face from a distance. This was a very creative idea, that works tremendously well. The poster looks intriguing and draws the attention of the audience, forcing them to engage. The poster also has a very clearly established color scheme, which makes it very sound in terms of graphic design. The various cool colors – blue, purple and teal – work together well and look aesthetically pleasing when placed side by side. The coloring adds to the mystique of the poster, making it look somewhat surreal and otherworldly. The font and text is simplistic, not distracting from the main image. The title rightly draws the eyes of the viewers by being much larger than the other text. At the bottom, the production credits are featured according to convention. The font is small because this information is relatively less important. On a poster, it is important to prioritize so that the attention of the audience is directed to the right place. The single line of text at the top of the poster gives it a visual balance with the text at the bottom. On the whole, this poster is well designed and visually appealing. It conveys the dramatic genre of the film and successfully engages the viewers.

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This poster for ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ is another one that struck me as particularly noteworthy. This is a horror movie, and the main reason this poster is so successful is because it instantly conveys this genre and the theme. The haunting image of the girl’s face is one that is striking and memorable – both important for any poster because you want the audience to remember your poster for as long as possible. The contrast between the brilliant red eyes and ghostly pale skin is jarring, and thus attention-grabbing. The blackness surrounding her face makes this contrast all the more pronounced. The butterfly over her mouth is another unusual feature that is instantly noticeable and memorable. All these bizarre, curious elements in the poster give it a creepy and surreal look, which is very fitting for a horror film. It also triggers the interest of the audience by making them wonder about what’s going on. It will make them want to watch the film to find out. The only real color used on the poster is an orangish red. This color is used three times – the eyes, the butterfly, the title. These three elements are aligned in a straight line on the poster and are distributed at the top, middle and bottom respectively.The red pops out of the frame and brings to focus the three main elements on the poster. In terms of graphic design, this is a solid structure and an aesthetically appealing plan.

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This poster for ‘The Theory of Everything’ is simple but effective. At the very center, the two leads of the film – Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones – are featured prominently. Since they are both major stars, it is important to have them showcased on the poster as it will attract the viewers and fans to the film. Their names are also printed on the poster, above the title, to further capitalize on their star power. The photograph of them is charming and pleasant, conveying that they are in love. The math and physics equations faintly printed behind them in the background relates to the life and study of Stephen Hawking. Thus, the poster very effectively presents the genre and themes of the film, highlighting both the romantic aspect and the academic aspect. By looking at the poster, the audience can get a sense of what the film is about, and that is very important. Also, the poster has a positive review of the film printed in large letters at the top. This quote is typed in the second largest font size after the title, which shows what a crucial place it holds. Having such a review on the poster lets the audience know that the film is critically acclaimed, which is likely to entice them to watch the film themselves. This is a very useful marketing technique.

Conventions of Postcard Advertisements

Here are the conventional elements that postcard advertisements typically should include:

On the front:

  • The title/logo of the film – The first thing the audience will see is the title, so it is important that the title and logo be catchy, striking and fresh. The design of the logo should reflect the genre/theme of the film in some way and not be too plain or dull. Any creative element in the logo design will help garner the film that much more attention.
  • Image/Art – Film is a visual medium so the poster also must be visual. The cover image will showcase the lead character(s) and give audiences a small insight into what the film will look like. The picture should depict the theme of the film and be striking enough to attract attention from the audience. The goal is for it to be memorable.
  • Tagline – The line has to be short and have a nice ring to it. It should be intriguing and enticing, giving a small taste of the storyline. The tagline could be in the form of a question. This will make audiences think and draw them in even more. It will also create a sense of mystery and suspense.
  • Film festival selections, nominations, wins, etc. – This information serves to impress the audience with credentials. When people see that a film has gained a lot of attention from different festivals they are more likely to see it because it tells them that the film was good enough to get the recognition.
  • Positive reviews – These also serve to impress the audience. People are more likely to see a film when it has a lot of critical acclaim. It creates a sense of reliability and makes people think the film is worth watching.
  • Production credits
    • Crew – writer, director, producer, etc.
    • Production company
  • URL of the film website – This is so that the people can learn more about the film and maybe even purchase it. It is great promotional tool, and free of cost.

On the back:

  • Contact information (email; phone number; address) – Short film makers are not usually major Hollywood directors so it is important that they stay accessible to the public. This is how they get new opportunities and contacts.
  • Film festival screening times – This is important because it is not enough for people to just know about the film, they need to know when/where to watch it. Otherwise, all the other promotion is of no avail.
  • QR code – A great, convenient marketing tool in the digital age. Having a QR is very valuable in today’s day and age.

Just like any film poster, it is important that the film postcard reflect the theme of the film. The colors, fonts, structure and design should instantly tell audiences what the mood/theme of the film is going to be. For example, a dark drama film should not have a bright pink poster with flowers and hearts as that will completely throw audiences off. The colors should actually reflect the color scheme of the film itself.

Postcard Advertisements

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Postcard advertisements are a very important tool used to market short films. These postcard advertisements are handed out at film festivals to promote the film, and garner attention. These are the cards given to every film programmer/producer/press member that shows even the least bit of attention. These cards help to establish connections with influential people and invite more of the public to view the film. As short films are typically made with a low budget, and not released in theaters worldwide, these kind of guerrilla  marketing techniques are extremely important in order to sell and promote the film.

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When creating a postcard advertisement, it is important to remember that this is often the first time someone is hearing about the film. Therefore, the poster should be designed in a manner that is instantly eye-catching and enticing. It also has to convey all the crucial information such that it is actually effective and not just decorative. The poster gives people hints about what to expect in the film, so making the theme/story appear as interesting as possible is an important element for convincing people to make time to watch the film.

“You can create postcards for your film and business cards for yourself. Or you can combine them and have a film postcard that includes your contact info or a business card that promotes your film. I’ve seen them all and they all work just fine.”

(Scriptmag)

I think it would be effective to combine the business card and the film postcard because that makes it more convenient. People would be more likely to reach out and offer opportunities if your information is readily accessible. Handing out two separate pieces of paper could result in people losing/forgetting one, but having your name and information alongside the film will help people remember and associate you better.

DH: Nice.  So about postcards—here’s my big bugaboo…filmmakers, please make it easy for me to follow up on your film if it looks cool.  I just got handed half a dozen short film postcards in the past week that had no website or contact e-mail on them and I thought, what’s the point?  I mean I guess I can Google the film’s name, but really it feels like an extra step.  Honestly, at this point in history, even hand typing in a URL is like manual labor.  I just made up cards for DIVERGENCE at Comic-con and I put QR codes on them.  They’re ugly, but these days I feel like anything without a QR code is Victorian.  I assume you’re pro-postcard, Steve.  What do you think?

SE: I like where you’re head’s at.  I’m a junkie for postcards and you need to fully exploit the real estate they represent.  You’ve got to have all forms of contact info available; really, why wouldn’t you?  And while we’re at it, low tech still works in a pinch — why would you ever fail to have your screening place and time printed on the card?  If not printed on the card, then printed on a sticker that you place on the card.  If not on a sticker, then lay down some sweet, personalized handwriting with a nice “hope to see you there!” note.

DH: Yes, exactly.  I’m an Avery label kind of guy myself.  I would always print postcards with key art, title, tagline on the front and more art, synopsis, contact info, whatever on the back but leave plenty of room for the all important screening times label and festival laurels.  Then you can get a big print run done pretty cheap and just grab a stack and a couple of quickly printed sheets of labels and sticker them on the way to the festival.  I’ve seen too many changed screening times to ever feel comfortable getting a whole order printed two weeks before the festival.  That’s just tempting fate.

(Douglashorn)

This reinforces my point that having contact information on the postcard is very useful. Putting the contact information and film festival screening times on the back is a good idea because  it doesn’t distract or take away from the aesthetic quality of the front poster, but is still conveniently accessible. I also see that having a QR code is a valuable addition, and it would be a good idea to have that on the backside also.

Finding background music

Today, I spent several hours trying to find the right background music for my film. I looked at a variety of different royalty free music sites, but found Incompetech (incompetech.com) to be the best and most convenient site. The way the music was organized made it very easy to browse by genre and theme and find tracks that best suited the atmosphere of my film. The site offers a very wide collection of tracks, all of which are available for free, which is another bonus. I opened all the collections that I felt would be relevant to my theme such as “Dark World”, “Darkness and unease”, “Gloom and sadness”, “mystery”, “tension”, etc. and listened to every single piece of music.

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Once I did this, I was able to narrow the selection down to a few top choices and I jotted the names down in the Notes app on my iPhone. Along with the name, I also made quick notes about any thoughts I had regarding the music/where I felt it could best be used. Here are the notes:

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All the music that I have chosen involves either synths or percussion instruments only. This is because I feel that these instruments best capture the tone of my film. The synths have a haunting, eerie sound while the percussion adds an element of drama and tension.

Now that I have these tracks selected, I will begin editing with them and see which ones actually work and which ones don’t. If I feel the need for any additional music, I will look that up later, but for now I feel comfortable with these choices. I feel they are perfectly fitting and will add a new dimension to my film.