You Can Do It!
Design the Silent Hill movie poster
Sony Tri-Star is running a “Create a Silent Hill movie poster” contest:
Think you’re a fan of Silent Hill? Prove it. Design your own movie poster! Everything you need is right here — photos, titles, key guidelines, etc. The winning poster may be printed and may be distributed to theaters. So get those creative juices flowing, design and submit your poster by January 3, 2006. Then get all your friends to vote for your poster starting January 4, 2006 because the winning artist gets $2,500 cash, 25 passes to see the movie, and more.
We are not fans of “design our movie poster” contests run by film studios — at least the kind that dangle the idea the winning design will be used as the film’s official one-sheet.
There are many reasons for our reservations, but one that comes to mind is this type of “contest” doesn’t do anything to help the “Photoshop crap” criticism that is commonly directed at modern Hollywood one-sheets. This type of competition plays into the “Anyone can design!” stereotype that infuriates so many art directors and designers in all corners of commercial art. (See the always enjoyable Clientcopia for examples of this frustration.)
To our knowledge, no film studio to date has released a “contest poster” design as a domestic one-sheet in theatres. There have been movie poster contests in the past, most notably for the Resident Evil series (also released by Sony). Perhaps this contest will result in the first fan poster to reach your local theatre lobby. (Fingers crossed!)
The practice of leaving key art marketing decisions in the hands of the “audience” is nothing new. (Many Hollywood film one-sheets are run through public focus groups, just like the films themselves.) But the idea of one-sheet contests may have first started back in 1995, when Fine Line Features ran a “Pick Our Poster” web contest for their film The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. The studio posted two final poster designs (created by the ad agency working on the film) on the film’s official website, and invited viewers to vote on their favorite design. The winning design was set to be printed and released to theatres as the film’s one-sheet. The voting came and went, and a winning design was chosen… Until, at the last minute, the studio completely changed their mind, ignored the contest results, and printed a new third design that combined elements of the two contest posters, having nothing to do with the contest itself. Ironically, that poster contest result gave the public a real taste of the three Rs (“Review. Revise. Reject.”) in the film advertising key art poster design process that so many one-sheets go through.
The Sony film advertising execs seem to have learned from this type of mistake, as the Sony / Tri-Star Silent Hill poster web site clearly states: “The winning poster may be printed and may be distributed to theaters.” (Emphasis ours.) The contest does offer just a bit of interesting insight into some things considered when creating a movie poster, including guidelines imposed by the MPAA for key art:
In order to become an official movie poster suitable for all audiences the poster must follow the guidelines listed below:
1. No nudity or sexual activity
2. No gun to camera/no shooting to camera
3. No gun to victim/no shooting to victim
4. No more than 2 guns may appear
5. No reference to drugs/drug paraphernalia
6. No offensive language or gestures
7. No blood
8. No violence towards women
9. No cruelty to animals
10. No mutations/mutilations/cadavers
11. No excessive violence or brutality
12. No rape/molestations
13. No people on fire
14. No people in explosion/people blown out of explosion
15. No exploiting/capitalizing on rating (i.e., “R has never gone this far”, “Banned in Boston”)
16. No demeaning of religion, race or national origin
So all those designers and “Photoshop gurus” out there who have dreamed of designing movie posters, Sony is giving you your chance… maybe.