Talk to Me – Part 2
Talk to Me Part 2
Written by @BryceBladon
If you haven’t already, start with part one of Bryce’s article here: Click Me First
Consider a movie poster – like this one, from True Grit.
What do you think the studio was trying to communicate here? The font suggests a Western theme, as do the old-timey symbols attached to the tagline. Matt Damon’s name stands center stage next to Jeff Bridges’ and Josh Brolin’s. Below stands the main cast. At the forefront of the poster are Bridges and Damon, the two most marketable and recognizable actors of the bunch.
Brolin is only in ten minutes of the movie, but he commands more attention than the main character. What’s his name doing up there in wrought-iron font next to the Bridges and Damon? And why is the main character – who draws the majority of the screen time and drives the entire narrative – shoved off to a tiny eighth of the poster? And what’s that actor’s name?
Examining the three points of effective communication reveals why:
What are you trying to say?
The studio is trying to communicate the appeal of True Grit…
What’s the most concise way to say it?
… by using celebrity faces and credible names…
What’s the most effective way to reach your audience?
… and since movie posters appear in newspapers, online, and are the first thing a person arriving at the theatre sees – and the last thing they see before they buy a ticket – the movie poster is the ideal medium to focus a studio’s marketing efforts.
The main character of True Grit is played by the (at the time) relatively unknown Hailee Steinfeld, but the actor who commands the third highest amount of screen time – Matt Damon – has his name dead center. Steinfeld’s name doesn’t get that grace. A movie poster is used to command your attention and make you spend money on it. A western starring a 14-year-old girl seems more like the Hokey-Pokey remix of High School Musical then the kind of film that’ll draw the in-demand 18-34 year-old male, movie-going demographic. Bridges, Brolin, and Damon are A-list actors with dozens of films and millions of dollars in their name. If the message is money, you bet on what’s bankable.
The poster as an example is meant to highlight information can be shaped and effectively communicated on a single sheet of paper. But what does this have to do with film as medium? Simply put: everything. In the final draft of a script, each letter should be essential to the feature as a whole. Each character inside should have a pivotal role; each line of dialogue should serve plot or personality; each prop a potent suggestion. Each shot should be calculated, each edit catered to a message, and each minute of man-power in the after effects department should brandish the point.
Next week, we’ll examine how these three communication principles have flourished on the web.
Part 3 is already posted. You can see it here: Click Here