Drew: The Man Behind The Poster
Movie trailers are kind of like a tease (and even a let-down) these days. If you think about it, movie trailers are nothing but the snippets of the best parts of the movie smushed together into a video synopsis lasting between 30 and 120 seconds. A standard Hollywood script is based on a three-act structure. On average, 90% of the trailers are scenes from Act Two. Many times the trailers not only show the best parts, but can also give the ending away. This particularly upsets me when I see the trailer of the thriller/mystery genre. But aside from the trailers often over-hyping what turn out to be huge disappointments, there used to be one aspect of the movie-watching experience that has become so over-looked and under-appreciated that it literally has become a lost art. That lost art: the art that comes with creating movie posters.
Movie posters often are hung up in theaters around the same time as the trailers come out. They are essentially supposed to tell the story or the emotion of the movie with photographs of the primary characters along with a simple tagline to get you hooked. For those who don’t know, a “tagline” is usually a one-liner from the movie that is supposed to give off the overall theme and get you interested in seeing the movies. I know I always go back to Batman stuff, but as an example: “Why So Serious?” was the tagline for “The Dark Knight.”
I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl, age 8 or age 80, we all have/will have movie posters (or band posters) hanging up on the walls of our bedrooms, man caves, and even our offices. Lots of us will even go the extra mile and buy these posters autographed by that actor who played said character on the poster. But what has become so forgotten and under-appreciated over the years are the painters and illustrators who actually DESIGN those posters.
This is the amazing documentary behind the man who designed and drew those posters… BY HAND! Drew Struzan is a true artist; a master who captivated fans of film and music without ever filming a single frame or playing a single note on a musical instrument. He is an illustrator and painter who conceptualized, designed, and drew movie posters and album covers for the likes of John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Alice Cooper just to name a few. He has lived a fairly simple life with his wife of over thirty years and son just drawing for a living. Simple as that.
Despite the simplicity of his life as it was portrayed in the documentary, his talent and humility are truly the focal points throughout. His ability to capture the essence and souls of the characters he drew stayed with you forever. His original pieces are now sought out by the most avid of collectors or are hung up with pride in George Lucas’ ranch.
The documentary also went into detail about how digital photography altering and Photoshop are RUINING a once respected and coveted artistic career path. I personally think it’s due to how little of the production budget of a film is set aside for marketing these days. Now, movie posters are so unimaginative and even have developed one of the most predictable patterns in design and color scheme.
This video IS NOT from the documentary, but it more than proves my point and many of the arguments made are referenced almost exactly in the documentary.
As the YouTube video suggests, it really is amazing what fans are developing on their own. And even though a lot of them are done on Photoshop, at least they have much more originality and imagination than the cliché stuff that’s being pumped out from the studios.
I have nothing but appreciation for artists and illustrators. I read comic books and graphic novels and often won’t buy them if I don’t like the artistic style in which they are drawn. But when it comes to movie posters, there’s something about Drew’s ability to capture the essence of the character, the actor, the movie, and the story all in one frame. It-and this documentary that tells that story-is nothing short of remarkable. You can now watch it on Netflix on demand.