Turning Films Into Minimalist Posters

5 September 2020

One of my most prized books is Alternative Movie Posters by Matthew Chojnacki.

It's a collection of over 200 so-called 'underground' movie posters. They have been created by film fans, for film fans. They are incredible works of art.

My favourites are the simple ones. Viktor Hertz's ingenious typographic poster for Coffee and Cigarettes, for example. Jason Munn's elegant visualisation of Bonnie and Clyde. Sabrina Jackson's depiction of Almost Famous as a vinyl record.

I thought I'd take some films I have enjoyed in recent years and give them the same minimalist treatment. In each case, I have attempted to visually represent a key image, theme or plot point.

Here goes...

This film's main character goes by the name 'Lady Bird'. She feels trapped by her familial environment and is desperate to escape. A ladybird crawling out of a glass was my way of visualising this.

This film centres on a getaway driver with tinnitus. He changes gears, accelerates and corners to the beat of his personal playlist. Musical notation morphing into a road seemed to represent this, especially when set against a colour gradient evocative of disco.

In this 2057-set film, the sun is dying. A museum cabinet displaying sunglasses from the year 2023, as if they were a historical artefact, was my way of capturing this premise.

In some cultures, counting sheep is a stereotypical way of putting oneself to sleep. I have combined this idea with the Russian doll structure of this film, which depicts a dream within a dream within a dream.

This film explores social class and how it is a never-ending ascent to the 'top'. The optical illusion of the Penrose stairs (in this instance designed by the very talented Lluisa Iborra) seemed to fit this neatly. If you have seen the film you will understand the significance of the bloodied rock!

This film is a road movie. Kind of. A van driving off into stars and stripes was how I chose to represent the film's exploration of adventure and the American Dream.

Take one cynical journalist, who we discover used to have a toy rabbit as a child. Add in the blue sneaker-wearing, life-affirming Mr Rogers. A magazine story brings this unlikely pair together, which is what I attempted to do in this poster.

This film ends with these lyrics being sung. They encapsulate the central premise of the screenplay so beautifully, so I set them in a typeface reminiscent of computer coding to reflect the story of Facebook's creation.

Having taken on this challenge, I have a new-found appreciation for those who produce alternative movie posters.

It's not easy to condense plot, characters and themes into a single image. I shared a few of these designs on Reddit and I discovered that counting sheep to fall asleep is not a universal concept, causing some confusion with my Inception poster!

So there's lots to consider, including the designer's own preconceptions and assumptions.

I think the most successful one is Baby Driver. I reckon it gives the clearest sense of what the film is about.

I'd love to hear what you think!

Plus, if you're interested in commissioning something similar, let's talk! yourpilgrimagedesign@gmail.com :)

Sam Thorogood | Pilgrimage Design