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:

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 3.19.06 pm

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:

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 3.27.44 pm

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.

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.

8e05e166cc2a9488c8c046e9735be786

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.

DreamWorks-Home-2015-Movie-Title-Logo

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.

ghostbusters-movie-logo-title

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.

ce52c3ead48d57bd9a326a28c74809d21b8278bccf280e818eb68277bac8c3a3

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.

Room-2015-Movie-Title-Logo

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.

Title

I was surprised when I recently discovered the existence of the latest M Night Shyamalan film that bears similarities to my short film in terms of having the same title (“Split”) and theme (dissociative identity disorder). I had absolutely no idea about this film when coming up with the concept for my coursework and I just want to establish that the similarities are purely coincidental. The idea to name my film on dissociative identity disorder “Split” was purely an individual choice, as I felt that the name best suited the theme and had a catchy ring to it (the reasons behind my idea can be seen in an earlier blog post from November). So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that M Night Shyamalan had the same idea as me! Crazy, huh.

For a little while, I pondered changing the name of my film, and even did some brain storming. However, I concluded that no one other name fitted as well as this one, so I’ve decided to keep it. I also found that there have been many films in the past with the same name. These overlaps just tend to happen sometimes and it is not an issue as long as the films are different enough in terms of story and characters, which they clearly are.

Actor Study: Kristen Wiig

kristen-wiig

kristen-wiig-in-nasty-baby_courtesy-of-the-orchard-1

Actress, comedian and writer Kristen Wiig is most widely known for her roles on Saturday Night Live and big, blockbuster comedies such as Bridesmaids (2011) and Ghostbusters (2016). However, I have chosen to talk about the incredible work she has done as a dramatic actress in films such as “Hateship Loveship”, “Girl Most Likely”, “Welcome To Me”, “Nasty Baby” and “Skeleton Twins”. Throughout her career, she has played a lot of characters who are troubled either emotionally or psychologically, as well as women suffering from serious mental illnesses. Since my film is centered around a disturbed young girl with dissociative identity disorder, I wanted to study Kristen Wiig’s characters and see how she brought such flawed people to life and got the audience to feel a great deal empathy.

kristen_wiig_sings_along_to_starship_in_first_skeleton_twins_trailer

One of the main things that Kristen Wiig does brilliantly, is to bring about a sense of likability to whatever role she plays. No matter how flawed a character may be, she finds a way to make them seem real and relatable, thus winning over the affection of the viewers. Also, she plays a lot of roles very quietly. There is a softness and gentleness about her acting and the characters she takes on, wherein she can convey a lot of emotion through her eyes and facial expressions alone. I aim for the protagonist in my short film to embody this spirit. While the other identities may be loud and boisterous, I want Anamika to remain soulful and appear lost and repressed. The sense of abandonment that Kristen Wiig brings to her roles has really inspired me in the development of my protagonist and I have written the part, imagining how Kristen would play it.

The subtlety that defines her performance taught me that while the story may be chaotic and big, the character at the center remaining grounded and real keeps the film from going overboard and coming across as too much. Kristen Wiig’s characters never become caricatures as a result of this, and that is very important to keep in mind. I don’t want my film to seem over-the-top or like a parody. I want it to remain as grounded in reality as possible.

Change to Short Film Ending

Looking back on my script now, I want to make a small change regarding the ending of my short film. Instead of ending the film with all the identities together, saying “Yes, I’m fine” in unison, I want to have all of them say “Yes, it’s okay” in unison. Then the three alter identities would fade away, disappearing into thin air, and only Anamika (the protagonist) would be left behind saying “I’m fine.”

I feel that this ending would be more poignant and symbolic, because if she says “I’m fine” by herself, it would indicate that for a moment, there was no other voice in her head and she really was fine., even if just for a split second. Also, having the three alter identities vanish would absolutely resolve any questions the audience would have regarding who they are and also would create an interesting, haunting visual.

The Skeleton Twins

skeleton3

“The Skeleton Twins” starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as depressed, suicidal siblings,   is a dark, captivating film that walks a fine line between comedy and tragedy. This film deeply resonated with me as a result of it’s brutally honest portrayal of mental illness and the pain it brings with it. It is very raw and exposed in certain places, such as when Hader’s character Milo attempts suicide or when Wiig’s character Maggie fears pregnancy or when the two violently argue. However, such intensely dramatic moments are perfectly counter-balanced with softer, comedic moments and moments of real brother-sister intimacy. The beautiful chemistry between the actors and the characters is evident when they quietly joke around together, for example when talking about “Marley & Me” or during their nitrous-oxide ridden antics at the dental clinic. It is a very gentle film with steady, slow scenes carried forward by soft dialogues, fading transitions and soothing hues.

Continue reading “The Skeleton Twins”

Plan: Color Scheme & Lighting

Color Scheme:

colorwheelarticle

In my short film, I plan to have two distinct color schemes – cool colors for the bedroom scenes and warm colors for the living room scenes. This will differentiate the two parallel narratives running side by side and create an interesting visual juxtaposition. Colors play an important role in films in helping establish the tone, look and feel. Therefore, I plan to use these two varied color schemes to create moods that will serve different purposes.

The scenes in Anamika’s bedroom will be dominated by cool colors such as various shades of blues, greens, purples, and grays. The walls are a brilliant turquoise and all the furniture is pearly white. These colors will make the room appear peaceful and pleasant to the eye, creating a sense of calm. Having chaos burst forth in such a setting will be unexpected and thus, catch the audience off guard. I want to create a soothing, happy atmosphere so that the dark themes slowly creep up in an unforeseen manner. At first glance, the room should look like a cheery, normal place and the viewers shouldn’t really suspect anything.

The scenes in the living room will be dominated by warm colors such as oranges, reds, and yellows, which will give the room a cozy, comfortable look and feel. It will be warm and inviting, like a nice, normal household and look visually pleasing. Cutting back and forth between the two color schemes will give the short film an interesting and complex visual texture.

Lighting:

Throughout my film, I plan to make use of high-key lighting with minimal shadows. This kind of bright lighting typically creates a feeling of happiness and light-heartedness. A dark storyline playing out in this setting will have an unsettling effect on the audience and give the film an almost creepy vibe. For example, the high-key lighting in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has this very same effect on the viewers. Also, this style of lighting will help the people and the setting look normal at first before everything starts unraveling. Using high-key lighting instead of low-key lighting will be an unexpected and refreshing choice, and I plan to use artificial lights such as tube-lights and LED Panel lights to achieve my intended effect.

Desperate Housewives: Tone

screen

Watching ‘Desperate Housewives’, one of the things that I noticed as being particularly striking, is the use of high key lighting and bright colors when telling dark, twisted stories. Throughout the show, the vivid colors of suburbia, such as green, pink, yellow, orange, and blue pop out and make the scenes look happy and cheerful. The bright, warm lights with little to no shadow, are not indicative of anything sinister going on at all. Visually, everything looks pleasing and perfect and happy.

However, underlying this chipper and joyful facade, the events going on are usually disturbing and dark, involving death, murder, deceit, cheating and lying. The juxtaposition between the perception and reality creates an interesting and unusual effect. For example, in the pilot episode, we see one of the women, Mary Alice Young, shoot herself in the head in her living room. The setting looks bright and cheery. She seems perfectly normal and content. The music is peppy the there is absolutely nothing hinting at the fact that a suicide is about to happen. Then, suddenly seeing a gun and blood in such a peaceful, pleasant scene throws off the viewers and is immediately gripping. It is creepy and intriguing all at the same time.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4_fotor

This kind of upbeat lighting and color scheme balancing the sinister plot lines allows the tone of Desperate Housewives to walk a fine line between comedy and drama. I personally love this approach because it keeps audiences on edge. We never know what to expect. In my short film too, I want to achieve this kind of tone. I want bright lights and colors to offset the dark, serious subject matter. The film should start off looking like its set in a happy room and there should be nothing extraordinary about the protagonist at face value. Only as the story unfolds, should we start to notice the strange and unsettling elements. This will increase the suspense/surprise element and keep viewers guessing. Also, the bright lights and brilliant colors will lend a strange sense of surrealism to my short film, which, in turn, will provide for very interesting visuals and aesthetics.

Short Film Conventions

Following the conventions:

  • Most short films tend to be about 5-10 minutes long, sometimes going up to a maximum length of 35 minutes. The time limit of 5 minutes prescribed in the coursework very much falls within the framework of a conventional short film.
  • Typically, short films contain some kind of “twist” to make them more interesting. A storytelling tool as sudden and powerful as a twist is useful for telling a compelling tale in such a short amount of time. In my short film there is a big plot twist at the end that the entire film builds up to. I want this to surprise viewers and leave them with something to think about.
  • Short films usually work with a low budget and thus make use of smaller, lesser known actors and stick to just one or two locations. For me, as a student, this is very much the case. The “actors” I am going to use are all people I know in real life (not professional actors), who will work for free, and the two locations I am going to shoot in (the bedroom and the living room) are both in my house. This would make the filming process manageable and cost-effective for me.
  • Also, a result of having low budgets, short films typically tend to stick to genres of social realism and hardly ever make use of expensive CGI inserts or special effects. In this vein, my short film too is based on real life and does not require complex special effects to be added in post production, which is beyond my means. Even though there are manifestations of the protagonists mind personified in real life, these personalities will be played by different actors and I can capture everything I need through the filming process itself.
  • Short films conventionally are set in an everyday setting also because it would help audiences relate to the story better and faster, and make them look forward to the climax and resolution. Having the location of my short film be inside a normal household will hopefully evoke these kinds of sentiments from the viewers.
  • I utilize the oft used hermeneutic code in my short film, in order to raise questions at the beginning of the film that will eventually be answered at the very end. It creates a sense of mystery, tension and confusion. This is very effective narrative technique that engages audiences and makes keep watching in order to find out the truth and get answers.

Challenging the conventions:

  • Most short films typically tend to have just 2-3 characters as there is not enough time to create deep backstories for the characters or for the audience to get to know all the characters well in such a short time. However, due to the nature of the disorder I have chosen and my  plot, I am going to have 6 characters in the film, which is more than you would normally see on screen in a 5-minute video. Without this many characters, I would not be able to tell my story, so it is essential for me to utilize all these different people.
  • Todorov’s theory of equilibrium is typically applied to most films. According to his theory, the narrative should follow the structure of equilibrium (everything is normal), disequilibrium (a problem occurs) and new equilibrium (the problem is solved). However, my short film mostly exists in the sphere of disequilibrium. The normalcy at the the very beginning is quickly shed, as we delve into a chaotic world. At the very end, there is no sense of normalcy restored, as the viewers are simply left with a surprise. Given the very limited amount of time available, the state of disequilibrium felt like the most interesting one to dwell in as it would raise a lot of questions and engage the viewers.

Mental Illness in Film

Over the years, a lot of films have tackled the issue of mental illness and presented this very serious subject in different ways. Deciding to base a film around a disorder or illness is a bold and challenging move, because it is important to get the details right and accurately depict it, otherwise the film simply will not work. It is also important to not offend the viewers or make it look as though the movie is poking fun at the illness or people suffering from it. There is a fine line that has to be walked here, and certain movies have managed to effectively capture the emotional and psychological core of a mental disorder in a manner way that works for the film and audiences alike. Here are some examples of those films:

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

This romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, takes an irreverent and unusually empathetic look at bipolar disorder. With both the protagonists dealing with this mental illness, the film revolves around the rollercoaster of emotions that control their lives, and presents their struggle in a manner that feels honest and raw. The romantic comedy element provides moments of much needed comic relief and a very human story for audiences to follow and actively engage with, indirectly communicating that an illness such as bipolar disorder does not have to define everything about you. The underlying message of the film is that a mental disorder is not something to be embarrassed about, but rather something that we can embrace and manage and deal with.

Black Swan (2010)

blackswan11

This highly acclaimed psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman follows a young ballerina’s descent into madness in the competitive world of professional ballet. The protagonist, Nina, shows elements of an anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive behaviors.  She also exhibits self-injurious behavior and signs of an eating disorder, and also dabbles with substance abuse. As the film progresses, she begins to have psychotic breaks and symptoms of schizophrenia as a result of emotional abuse, stress and various other factors. The line between reality and hallucinations gets increasingly blurred as the film culminates to a climactic ending. The film uses a lot of creative artistic license in its portrayal of mental disorders, but the intertwining of the psychodrama and the story is haunting and brilliant.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

beautiful-mind

This film, based on a true story, portrays the life of a person living with schizophrenia in a manner that feels honest and truthful, though some say the Hollywood version of Josh Nash’s life does use some creative artistic license when it comes to medical realities. However, mental health experts applaud the film for creating a better understanding of the disorder and reinforcing the idea that being a genius does not preclude someone from having a mental illness such a schizophrenia. The film observes the impact that the intrusiveness of his symptoms has on his daily life and relationships with his family, friends and colleagues. The hallucinations that his disorder triggers and the difficulty of living with the condition are presented with emotion and empathy. The fact that the disorder does not become clear till about half way through adds a bit of shock value, as viewers are forced to reevaluate past events.

Fight Club (1999)

fight-club

This cult classic, tackles the idea of Dissociative Identity Disorder using a lot of creative freedom and artistic license. In the film, the disorder is triggered not by childhood or emotional trauma (as would most likely be the case in real life), but rather through the protagonist’s feeling trapped and stuck in the structure of modern society, which literally causes him to dissociate. The illness is used as a means to comment upon the intense psychological damage caused by consumerism and our corporate, materialistic culture. An important parallel between the depicted disorder and the real disorder is the idea that the alternate identities are present as a coping mechanism for the individual. Therefore, a stronger, more confidant personality takes over. Overall, the film uses the disorder as a metaphor for humankind and for major shock-inducing plot twist at the end.

Looking at all these films, I gathered that when depicting a mental illness, it is certainly important to understand the symptoms and depict them as realistically as possible, but the filmmaker may also make use of creative license and artistic freedom to keep the storyline interesting and engaging for audiences. I also found that the unpredictability that comes with mental illness makes it great fodder for plot twists. In many films, the mental illness is used to build the framework for a major shock that would surprise audiences and catch them off guard. In my short film too, I am using the mental illness to create a shocking plot twist at the end.