A film poster is a prime marketing tool, but one very difficult to master: one image, one chance to grab attention and spark interest, less than two seconds to get it right.
And this is no exaggeration. Netflix calculated that users spend 1.8 seconds considering each title. Artwork is the biggest influencer to the decision to watch content.
People connect with posters they like. They post them on Facebook and they hang them on their walls at home. But what makes a poster successful? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. BE PROACTIVE: THE TEASER POSTER.
It’s essential to start early and plan ahead. Posters should not be a last minute assignment, but instead planned and developed alongside the film. A teaser poster can be made at an early development stage and can be used to communicate within the industry. Later on, the teaser poster can also act as blueprint for the final poster.
2. MATERIALS, MATERIALS, MATERIALS.
It is so basic, but so easily forgotten: while still in production, it is easy and inexpensive to organise a mini photo shoot that will be invaluable.
Hire a set photographer. Give clear instructions. Have a vision of the image you want to create. Take portraits of your main characters. Plan set visits. Don’t rely on film stills. More often than not, they are not enough to create a powerful image.
3. REMEMBER: A POSTER IN ITSELF IS NOT A PIECE OF ART.
It’s a marketing tool. Don’t forget that the poster’s main function is to convince people to watch the film. If - at the end - you want to hang it in your living room, consider it a bonus, not the end goal.
4. KEY SELLING POINTS PLEASE!
There is no such thing as a successful film poster without a solid understanding of what the selling points of the film are: genre, protagonists, location, theme. List them and prioritise them.
5. MASTER THE BASICS.
Key artwork, typography, logline, billing block. A poster is not a poster without them. Keep in mind that typography and colour can completely change the mood and can be deceiving if they don’t match with the genre of your film.
6. BE BOLD.
Stay true to your original idea. Invest in one well executed, strong and clearly positioned image and don’t be afraid to break the rules (but know them before).
7. BE FAITHFUL TO YOUR FILM.
Sometimes a film requires a single grainy still as poster. Sometimes, a massive composition with studio shots, heavy post processing and CGI.
Be faithful to your film - at all times.