Postcard Advertisement: Brainstorming

Before starting the design for my film festival postcard advertisement, I wanted to brainstorm on paper and create a rough sketch of how I wanted the final piece to look. This will help me ensure that I have included all the necessary components and not left anything out. It will also give me a basic format to work with on Photoshop, even if I do end up changing some things.


I have sketched the poster in the landscape format as I feel that this format will work best in terms of design. The background image will be the same as the background image on the home page the website and I will continue to follow the same basic colour scheme – blue and black. I feel that it is important maintain a consistent look so that audiences will be able to recognise the film when they see it anywhere. If the poster and website look totally different, it will not create any brand awareness, and the film won’t have a distinctive style.

The front side of the postcard will also have a tagline under the film title, film festival laurels, a positive review quote and production credits. I will also include a link to the film website in an effort to integrate the different forms of promotion and create a successful marketing campaign.

I want my postcard advertisement to also have a back-side where I can include additional information. The back will have contact information, a QR code, and film festival screening times. It is conventional to create such double-sided postcards as it increases efficiency and effectiveness. Rather than handing out a business card separately, it is more convenient for people if the contact information is on the postcard itself. This way, they will also directly associate you with the film.

I also feel that is very beneficial to have the film screening times as this way the audience can know how to view the film instead of just knowing about the film. This will encourage more people to see it as they don’t have to go through much trouble. Finally, I also decided to include a QR code because in today’s increasingly digital world a QR code is a great promotional tool.

Postcard Ad Review: Mulberry Child


“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.


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.

Postcard Ad Review: Sausage


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.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.”


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.


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.