The folks over at Trailer Park — who already gave us fascinating insight into how all of those tantalizing, thrilling previews you watch at the movies (or from your laptop) are made — have shared with Hollywood.com even more behind-the-scenes intel, this time about how movie posters wind up on the walls of your local mutliplex and/or bedroom. Jeremy Kaplan, the President of the Print division of Trailer Park (which has created the one sheets for a wide range of films — from acclaimed Oscar-winners like Crash and Walk The Line to mainstream hits such as Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and The Campaign, to offbeat indie creep-fests like The Human Centipede, The Descent, Hard Candy and Hostel) explained the process of creating poster art for movies.
Whether they're working with larger studios or smaller independents, Kaplan says that the jumping-off point and end goal for every project is the same: to find a solid collaboration between what the client is looking for and their own unique vision. But how they move from Point A to Point B isn't as predictable as say, a romantic comedy. "Sometimes they haven't even started filming, they've just locked a movie. They give us a script, we'll read it, the client will give us direction on how they wanna sell it and also say, 'Come up with your angle.'"
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Of course, if the movie hasn't started shooting yet, that means there's no unit photography to work with for reference. After reading the script, the team at Trailer Park will come back to the studio with "scrapbooks, mood boards for tone and stylizing just to help the clients try to visualize and focus in on what works and what doesn't work in their minds. Once we get feedback on that ... we'll do sketch concepts for a photo shoot, if that's available."
When cameras do eventually start rolling, they'll head to the set to "try to execute those concepts and those sketches. We'll come back from the photo shoot and start building key art and then we'll also use unit photography. A lot of time studios will have a unit photographer on set and we'll sift through thousands of images to find the best head or the best body or the best arm or the best background," Kaplan explains. "A lot of times people think it's all caught on camera but it's 50/50. Sometimes you'll get something on camera, but a lot of times the agency spends hours compositing the best pieces of the puzzle."
NEXT: Piecing Together the Puzzle...
And that puzzle can consist of upwards of 12,000 pieces at times. "It used to be [that] you'd go in and they'd have three binders looking through a thousand images. But now with digital photography, unit photography is so voluminous," Kaplan says. "You'll come back from any project and there will be 12,000 images. Going through those images, that's where it starts to get a little more difficult because it's a little more of a scattergun approach with unit photography, where they want to make sure everything's covered." Of course, that very same technology provides challenges for Trailer Park when it comes to leaked photography online. "There's a huge issue with piracy," Kaplan says. "We have to use secure FTP sites, secure hard drives, encrypted hard drives, if we're sending stuff back and forth. A lot of times it's down to the wire, we'll finish a file, and then it will be released online."
Sometimes, however, when there are fewer assets to work with, that's when the most creative ideas can come to fruition. "We pride ourselves on creating imagery with little to no assets. It's challenging, but fun. The interesting part of our day is to say 'Okay, I need you to source a chimpanzee [Planet of the Apes] or find a 14-foot Statue of Liberty, because we're gonna destroy it."
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Kaplan and his Trailer Park team, who could have anywhere from just four days to two years to work on a project and upwards of fifteen people on the assignment, can send out their finished product to distributors within days of creating the final product. "Sometimes … you'll finish a file on Friday, it will get sent to the color separator on the weekend, they''ll do the color sets, they'll print on Monday, and get it in theaters by Wednesday," he says.
They also work with the other departments when it comes to creating the art work for DVD and online prints. "There's no set way that they do it. Sometimes they'll re-purpose the artwork from print for theatrical for DVD and online," Kaplan says. "It's a cohesive synergy between departments. We may have read the script or been on set and then, five to six months into a project, home entertainment needs to start thinking about it and they come to us and go, 'Okay, so what's going on?' and we'll say, 'This character did this, this character changed their hair.' A big part of the whole machine is being the expert on that project for the client."
And, as evident by blockbusters such as The Dark Knight Rises or The X-Men: First Class, Trailer Park is not always responsible for just one poster. Kaplan explains, "If it's a large event film, they're gonna do a big media buy. So they know they're going to do character teasers, they sometimes do a tease a year ahead of time, or they know they want to do specific media buys [for events like] Comic-Con, depending on what the genre of the movie is. A tease, a character tease, and then a big payoff. It really depends on how big the movie is." When it comes to an indie movie with a smaller budget, however, "We'll just do one piece of key art. Sometimes they'll find avenues after the first round to do multiple pieces and try to find a place to put those pieces."
But, it's those very indie studios like IFC and Roadside Attractions that give Trailer Park the most creative freedom. "They're not as boxed in with rules as much as the other studios. We'll throw the net really wide and say, 'This could be really crazy.' It's such bizarre content, we'll hire special actors and actresses that don't mind getting a little… crazy." (See: the posters for The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, if you dare).
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Of course, even with creative freedom, a big name like Trailer Park still has to stand out from the pack. "The biggest challenge is, there are a lot of talented agencies in town, and there is a good amount of work in town," Kaplan says. "Everybody wants to work for the same studios, so I think the biggest challenge is having the client be invested in you succeeding. We have an extremely talented group of people. There are other agencies in town that are just as talented, so that's the price of entry. It's a given that you're talented and that you have to be able to have the chops to perform."
"So the next challenge is when a client comes to three agencies and gives everyone the same materials, how do you stand out from the rest?" he adds. "One is creative thinking and trying to do the responsible thing and doing the unexpected. It's a bake-off a lot of times with the studios. A big part of it is client service and making sure you're doing your best. The clients want to know they can give you a project and not worry."
Kaplan — who adds that no one single genre is "easier" to come up with imagery than others and that technology has significantly changed the art of creating posters ("It is getting hard to find out what was illustrated, what's 3D, what's in camera, what's photoshopped") — says that at the end of the day, in addition to making their client happy, "We get to create art. Those posters will live on a wall forever."
[Photo credits: Lionsgate(2); Warner Bros; 20th Century Fox]
Follow Aly Semigran on Twitter @AlySemigran
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Put down your lunch right now (and forever, for that matter): a third Human Centipede movie is still happening and bringing back its original baddie. Just in case you weren't sufficiently horrified, grossed out, or plain depressed enough the first two times around. Entertainment Weekly heralded in the news that director/professional deranged person Tom Six has made nice (probably not a word often associated with him) with The Human Centipede (First Sequence) star Dieter Laser after he threatened to sue him for breach of contract. Laser had reportedly dropped out of The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) just seven weeks before shooting when, according to a statement put out by Six, the German actor's ego had “grown to laughably big proportions,” and he had demanded “unacceptable script changes." In a statement made last year, Laser said he "couldn’t identify with the character" anymore. (After all, the character was just so human and relatable in the first movie!)
Now, apparently, the two men have come to terms with one another, the lawsuit has been dropped, and they can get back on track with making the third feature in the saga so that they can get back to haunting your dreams. And not a minute sooner, as this movie will feature a 500 person centipede. (For those of you out of the loop of what a Human Centipede is...you know what, you're better off continuing to enjoy your beautiful life.) Six also promises The Human Centipede 3 (which, in addition to Laser will also bring back the sequel's unsettling villain Laurence R. Harvey) "will be very politically incorrect" and feature a "big American celebrity". Any guesses to who that could be or where Six will, well, stick them? If the very thought of this makes you want to wash your eyes out of have a lobotomy, you can cleanse your palate with the new Evil Dead trailer which seems downright Disney-esque in comparison.
[Photo credit: IFC Films]
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
You'd think that the set of a movie like Human Centipede III would be a botanical garden of friendship and cooperation. But trouble is brewing in production of Tom Six’s third spine-melding horror. Deiter Laser, star of the first movie, was set to return to his “mad doctor” role in the upcoming threequel. However, it appears that HC3 doesn’t live up to the artistic standards of the original — Laser has opted out of playing the role as it stands, breaching his contract.
Screenread published the following statement by Laser:
“It’s very simple: I loved the story when it was told, got the contract and the promise to have the script in 4 to 6 weeks. When it arrived — half a year later and only after the official announcement — I didn’t like the realization at all, couldn’t identify with the character the way it was written and developed immediately and enthusiastically in a day and night marathon a version full of concrete and practical suggestions which would enable me to play the lead full throttle — same procedure as with Dr. Heiter — but this time it also would have had some unavoidable effects to the dramatic structure. That was too much for Tom and since he couldn’t live with my suggestions and I as a method actor couldn’t identify with his version, I told him that I couldn’t see any other way than that he would have to 'change horses.' That’s it.”
Laser does have a point. As a method actor, it is unreasonable to expect him to sew together over five hundred actual people to get in character for this new film.
Producer Ilona Six, sister of director Tom stated, “Because of the success of The Human Centipede, it seems that Mr. Dieter Laser’s ego has grown to laughably big proportions. First signing the contract and rating the Human Centipede III script as fantastic, and then demanding his own unacceptable script changes, and now refusing to play the part only seven weeks prior to shooting. Six Entertainment Company will start legal action against Dieter Laser. Tom Six says not to worry—principal photography will be postponed and will take place later this year.”
That kind of attitude is promising for all of those eagerly (although probably very secretly) awaiting the final installment of the series. There is nothing that will stop the Six family from sewing people together. That's dedication.
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