Friday, November 25, 2016

BITS'16 Film Review - 24x36 A Movie About Movie Posters

The one sheet dimensions of  27 x 41 is the classic size for a movie poster due to a most particular reason. The posters are that size because movie companies used to ship them inside the canister with the film and that size that would fit when the poster was folded into quarters. It's also the reason why classic movie posters for 1927's Metropolis or the classic Boris Karloff horror films from the 30's have creases in them from the fold. Director Kevin Burke's documentary tackles the history of the art form touches on the radical change that started in the nineties then the revival of movie poster art by small independent agencies.

Starting with the 18th century French origins and an explanation of the original creative process the film jumps to the early iconic examples of the medium evidenced by the above mentioned titles mixing in other golden age examples of Gone With The Wind , Little Caesar and Charley Chaplin's Modern Times. The art of these pieces included little vignettes of the events of the film. It gave the moviegoer several snapshots of what to expect in the film.


The narrative moves ahead to the modern legends of the field Bob Peak, John Alvin and Richard Amsel who were responsible for the best work from the final stage of the original practice with memorable work for Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now and Raiders of the Lost Ark. These were pieces where the viewer took their time to take in each small detail that fit together combining to form an exciting blueprint for the film.

Unfortunately things changed with the dawn of the computer, the ability to use Photoshop and the birth of the fast food consumer disposable society. People now looked at small images on their phones to make their movie choices or small boxes on their Netflix home page.  Movie companies, producers and especially the agents wanted more control of their talent's image giving rise to the floating heads of the stars at the top of the poster with a small image from the film at the bottom as evidenced in the Scream films and every Tom Cruise vehicle since Mission Impossible.


Thankfully a market has emerged for high-quality limited quantity move posters through small indie firms Mondo, Skuzzel and Great Matter Art. Director Burke takes the viewer into the cultural world of movie poster collectors, shows at the firms, examples of the fine art of screen printing creating a new standard size of 24 x 36. The collectors discuss the online community, being poster buddies, meeting to buy, exchange and display their purchases. Several of the artists' work is featured including Akiko Stehrenberger, Jason Edminston, Daniel Danger, Ken Taylor and Mondo's leading man Tyler Stout. The topic of licensing is discussed in detail including those instances where an artist or company go rogue creating a poster without proper permission.

24 X 36 A Movie about Movie Posters is an insightful short exploration of movie posters from their origins through the golden age to the end for the first phase of artist rendering. Listening to a marketing rep try to justify the move to the floating heads because an artist rendition may make the audience conclude that the film is likely animated will make you want to tear your hair out but it seems that in the last few years the industry is moving away from that practice. Tom Hodge is producing great work for films such as Spy and The Heat.  The world of movie posters is a subject that could easily be worthy of a future update to see where the industry stands. Hopefully we will see one in the not too distant future.

**** Out of 4.

24 x 36 A Movie About Movie Posters | Kevin Burke | Canada /USA | 2216 | 82 Minutes.

Tags: Movie Posters, Artitis, Screen Printing, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Collecting, Mondo, Skuzzel, Tyler Stout.

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