Written by: Keith Nickoson
A Mystery in Design
I think for many low-budget or no-budget indie filmmakers, designing their own movie poster is inevitable. But it is an inevitability that can be very exciting. It’s a creative crossover that forces your mind across the threshold of abstract storytelling and into the impending reality of its presentation. Promoting the feature film Parallel for its initial film festival run gave me the opportunity to experiment with this art form, and really attempt a distillation of the story elements to create an essential sense of mystery. Finding the proper color palette and tone took some trial and error though, so I thought it might be cool to show the progression of my designs - and then the eventual versions that were used.
The movie Parallel takes place on two versions of planet Earth. Our math obsessed protagonist, Vincent, has discovered a way to transport himself between these worlds to alter events that have already occurred . . . or so he thinks. The four panels below show the progression of the literal motif I used as hook. I was going for mystery, but also a certain amount of clarity or immediacy with the imagery. Though there are elements of the earlier versions I like, the third and fourth panels were the winners. The alteration of contrast from poster three to poster four had a lot to do with printing and the ability to see the detail of the mathematics.
I Discovered Something . . .
This poster was a strong contender to be the main promotional tool, but the festivals we were accepted to were less artsy and more genre. We still opted to use the third poster for the final film festival Parallel was accepted to on its run - the Phoenix Film Festival. Parallel won best picture there in the Horror & Sci-Fi division.
The three posters below represent the initial concepts I mocked up in the earliest stages of the poster making process. They were “sci-fi” and mysterious in their own right, but none of them felt like the best representation of the completed film and were therefore abandoned. The fourth and fifth panel were created during pre-production as a form of inspiration. One carry-over to the final version, however, was the intentional use of the serif font. I wanted to root the title in traditionalism as a juxtaposition to the surreal, or futuristic nature of the sci-fi imagery.
Thanks so much for taking a look at the posters. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the box below.