Creating posters for my films is something I've enjoyed doing over the
years. I've long been fascinated by film posters and I began collecting
them before they could be purchased in film memorabilia shops or online.
In those days when I saw a poster I wanted to add to my collection, I
would have to go to the theater on a Wednesday night when they would be
taking down the old one-sheets and putting up the new ones for the
incoming film. My timing had to be good or I would miss my opportunity.
Sometimes I could make an arrangement with the theater manager to set
one aside for me but this was unreliable because a separate company was
in charge of delivering and installing the new posters and removing and
returning the old ones.
My first poster find was from the film
The Last Run
starring George C. Scott. It was a clean, elegant
presentation with a photograph of Scott sitting at a table in front of
an open window in a hotel room in Portugal. He is seen cleaning his .45
automatic and on the table is a bottle of whiskey and a pack of
Marlboros. So much in this photo conveyed masculine adventure and
danger and my first thought was this film would be the sort of story
Hemingway might have written. Only then did I notice the log line "In
the tradition of Hemingway and Bogart"--but the photograph spoke first.
a book cover is much like designing a movie poster. The idea is to make
a visual statement that conveys the essence and, perhaps the theme, of
the offering. When it came time for me to create the design for
, I was at a loss for I didn't have a clue as to how the
book should look. I considered the classic theatrical masks of comedy and
tragedy but quickly rejected the idea as I felt they referred to
theater more than cinema and my technique addresses both. My next
thought was to use a selection of Venetian masquerade masks but after
looking through quite a few of them, I realized they all suggested
masquerade balls rather than performance.
I was discussing
this with writer, actor, photographer Tom Gurnee
who began showing me
photos he had taken in Basel, Switzerland during the Fasnacht festival.
They were very colorful and expressive. Each mask seemed to have a
distinct emotion and one could even intuit the unspoken thoughts the
masks conveyed. They were a perfect expression of the Action/ReAction
technique. Then we stumbled upon a photo Tom had taken of several masks
lined up on a counter. It was a great arrangement and I began to
visualize how the cover would be presented.
I needed a context
that would be a visual presentation of the technique and since the
technique relies heavily on the dictates and discipline of music, I had
the idea of positioning the masks on a musical stanza as though they
were the notes of a song. Tom played with the spacing and arrangement of
the masks we had selected through a process of trial and elimination
and came up with the presentation that became the cover art.
then turned to my friend Kevin Courtright who wrote the book Back to Schoolin': What Led Zeppelin Taught Me About Music
for a discussion of
music. Action/ReAction is a complex technique with many layers of nuance
applicable to both male and female registers and so we decided on a
treble clef. We turned our attention to the time signature that would be
indicated on the stanza. I wanted it to convey that the technique was
sophisticated and felt a 4/4 notation would send the wrong signal to
those who understood music. We decided on 7/8 time signature. The sharps will remain an unexplained inside joke.
now had what I felt was an adequate visual statement of the technique
even if some of the 'code' could only be understood by those with
musical training. The final element was a one sentence quote from me
that summarized the technique and put into words the illustration we had
created for the cover art. This was the result: "Think of yourself as a
singer/dancer and know that the rules of those two disciplines also
apply to acting."
This was an interesting exercise in visual,
nonverbal communication and coded, subliminal expression--like my seeing
'Hemingway' in the photo of George C. Scott before seeing it in the log
line on the poster. My thanks go to Tom Gurnee and Kevin Courtright
without whose help and expertise, this cover would not have been.
is available on Amazon
and I was notified today that it will be carried
by Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, a short distance from where we have
our Elysée Wednesday gatherings.
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