Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Isnin, Mac 23, 2009

#317. Isu : Selective visuals

What you leave out of a movie poster is just as important as what you put on it.

I DON’T mind superhero movies, but normally I prefer movies in which the protagonists wear their underwear on the inside of their pants. However, this is not the reason I almost skipped watching Watchmen. First impressions count. You would not show up on a first date or job interview in a stained T-shirt or with uncombed hair.

Studios spend a lot of money on trailers and posters. One glance should be enough to arouse your interest. It is a challenge to make these posters completely original, but you know what kind of films they are at first look.Trailers for action films are predictably a show reel of their best special effects, explosions, shouting, screaming, with a little break for the love interest (by this I mean the one female character) moving in languid, sexy, slow motion.

So, Watchmen covered all its bases. And yet, the poster and the trailer were the very reason I was reluctant to go watch the movie.

See, in the middle of the action and sexiness and tension, there is a sudden moment of ... “Huh?”

In the midst of all the intense looks, explosions and superhero-ing, appear big yellow words in capital letters: FROM THE VISIONARY DIRECTOR OF 300.

From who of what? I nearly fell for it. If the words are big, he must be well-known. It’s none-too-subtle brainwashing.

“Who’s the director?”

“I don’t know but he’s sure got vision.”

“And what other movies has he made?”

“300 – I didn’t watch it but I’ve heard it was like totally visionary, dude.”

Research showed that 300 had played in our cinemas. I make it my business to learn about the best and most popular movies to be released, so it did not bode well that this didn’t ring the tiniest of bells.

I did a survey of everyone I know. Only one of my friends had watched it.

“Was it any good?”

“I liked it.”

“What was it about?”

“I don’t remember. But it had a lot of buff, scantily-clothed men hitting each other.”

Totally visionary, dude.

I would hazard a guess that the poster would have had more of an impact without the yellow words. If you are going to name drop, get someone who is known or good, preferably both.

M. Night Shyamalan’s movies are still hailed as being “from the director of The Sixth Sense”, even though he has written directed and produced five movies since then. Some were quite good but not as good as his first.

Not everything is a selling point.

Everyone should play to their strengths. If you are a producer lucky enough to bag an actor of Dustin Hoffman’s calibre, remind people of the two Oscars he won, of his roles in The Graduate, Kramer vs Kramer, Tootsie and Rain Man. This is not the time to tout his role as Mr Magorium.

If you have made a bad movie – and I can’t think of an actor or a director who has not – leave it out of the resume. No one should ever see the words “from the directors who gave you Heartbreak Kid”, who incidentally are the Farelly brothers, and whose next film (I wish I was just kidding) is entitled Walter, The Farting Dog.

And as far as I’m concerned, that would be as effective a marketing ploy as a restaurant promoting its new dish by announcing it is “from the chef who gave you food poisoning”.

Do not resort to word-cheats. Maybe crow that it was “from the makers of Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary”. Whatever “makers” mean, it does not include the director or the actors.

Finally, credit should be earned. Sometimes it is the job title, not the name, that is irrelevant. It seems like every other big movie loves to claim that it is, “from executive producer Steven Spielberg”.

Who doesn’t like Spielberg as a director? But here’s the catch. Executive producers don’t really have to be involved. The title just means they have had some connection to the film or script at some point. Maybe they bought the script and sold it, maybe someone just asked them to put their name to the project.

Trust names if they were involved for what they are good at. You might think Cate Blanchett walks on water but you would be less than delighted to hear she would be performing your root canal.

I did end up going to see Watchmen and I am glad I did. It was brilliant. It was also long, convoluted, cerebral and had a definite shortage of scantily clad musclemen, so who knows whether it will appeal to fans of 300.

Considering its success with the critics and at the box office, I can only guess that for Zack Snyder’s next movie, the poster will read “From the director of Watchmen”. And for me, that will be a selling point.

Source : The Star

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