Thursday, February 20, 2014
My Bloody Valentine or You Make Me want to SCREAM My Head Off!
Who will ever forget the chilling voice at the end of that telephone line,"Hello, Sydney...."
...I know I certainly won't.
Today's post will discuss a project I just finished today. It is the second in the Drawing Club I am now a part of. Incidentally this is kinda what occupied my art time during the Valentine's Holidays. Which is strangely amusing considering the subject matter. This second assignment was to create a poster for a Horror Film of our choosing. The film could be pre-existing or made-up. As I have SUCH a Love for this film genre, I found myself torn trying to decide which film I would fashion a new poster for. Since coming up with an original image to represent the chosen film, I found that working with a pre-existing film that I'm very familiar with in and out would be better than trying to make up a film and an image. Well, at least I thought it would be easier in a "work smarter not harder" kind of way. In the end, I discovered that I should know this about myself by now, that when it comes to making art, I NEVER make it easy on myself. I always CRAVE that next challenge. SO DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS, right? I really had trouble settling on a film selection. I'm glad we had 3 weeks to do this project.
I spent several days deep in thought contemplating different films. In the end, my mind settled only on one, Wes Craven's SCREAM (the first film). Even though I ABSOLUTELY ADORE all 3 sequels that came after this film, probably because they were all directed by Wes Craven, all 4 films. The first SCREAM film was just special, though. If any of you have watched the 2 retrospective documentary behind the scenes films on the movie franchise, you are aware of some of the reason's behind why I chose this film. SCREAM is a Teenage Slasher Film, obviously a sub-genre of horror. And up until Kevin Williamson dropped his screenplay, then titled "Scary Movie," right in the middle of Hollywood's lap, Slasher Films followed a very predictable, solid and commercially successful formula.
SCREAM is also set apart from it's predecessors in that all the main characters, Sydney Prescott and her friends, are ALL obsessed with watching, analyzing, deconstructing and criticizing all other horror films. This sense of self-awareness brings us, the audience even closer to the characters. As Sydney says and does the exact same thing we would do if we were living a horror movie. If we would shout at the screen,"Don't GO in THERE!" then the characters in this film would have the same exact thought and not "go in there." However, they are not saved from the danger, it just expands and changes game and comes at us in a way we were not expecting based on decisions we would avoid, because we the, audience, have seen those situations time and again and would "NEVER Do what they did." We would be smarter in that situation, right? This is why SCREAM was SO cleaver when it was released in theaters, because KW wrote it with that very audience in mind: the self-aware, better decision because we have seen it all audience.... Then he turns it all on us and uses our own better judgement and whit against us, the audience. This is why I just LOVE this first SCREAM. In this way, KW can COMPLETELY Surprise us, like Sydney is in throughout her horrific experiences in the film. "SURPRISE, Sydney!" >;0P
The original Movie poster for SCREAM and all of it's pre-release promotional materials were used as yet another clever rouse to trick the audience in a very awesome way. I set out at the beginning of this project to create a poster that encompasses the themes and encapsulates essence of the film. The original movie poster was set up to sell the film on STAR-POWER alone. This was a very calculated move by all parties of the makers of this film. SCREAM was advertised to the world as a film staring powerhouse actress Drew Barrymore as the leading lady of this Scary Movie. Every promotional image, every movie poster and every trailer SCREAMED Drew Barrymore (pun intended) ;0) This was so that the audience would be ABSOLUTELY FLOORED, SHOCKED and HORRIFIED when Drew is murdered by the killer in the first 10 terrifyingly-suspenseful minutes of the film. This left audiences seeing the film for the very first time without any notion of what is going to happen next.
Drew's amazing and brilliant idea was realized and made the film even more clever and successful. However, [and I'm sure Wes Craven was definitely aware of this as well as many of you movie buffs out there will too] this concept is not entirely original. It's first and really only other comparable example is in the first act of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, which incidentally broke a lot of cinematic rules in film-making, story telling in the horror genre and even revolutionized the way America went to the movies.
Janet Leigh, the "star" of the film in the first act. Lead them to believe that the film is about the character this actress portrays, get them involved in a story line about her (the robbery) and just when you think you know what the film is all about WHAM! Kill Her!
I know this seems like a lot of ramble, but , I promise, it's VERY relevant to the decisions I made for the illustration of this movie poster. Since it has been over 10 Years since the film's initial release, the cat is obviously out of the bag and everyone knows that Neve is the true star of the film. This being said, I wanted my poster concept to cover theme and evoke emotion instead of relying any on Starpower. In fact, that was the first decision I made was NO STAR POWER! Not even Neve's. I didn't want you to see the subject of the illustration as Neve Campbell or ANY actress/actor. I wanted you, the viewer, to see character, and character ONLY. SO lets talk theme. To me, the main themes that run throughout the film are: paranoia, distrust & desensitivity to violence (still a VERY hot topic in visual media to this day.) The film is quite Hitchcockian in that sense. Since both writer and director are big fans of Hitchcock, this is not too surprising. Just like in JAWS and in Poltergeist's movie posters, I wanted to extract the HEART Out Of what this film is about. For me, the heart of this film is the obsessed stalking of Sydney Prescott vs. her mistrust and isolation from others, due to her mother's untimely murder.
So the main concept of my illustration is, in foreground, Sydney Prescott running from an unknown threat. Aside from the solution to solving the fact that I didn't want the image of Neve Campbell in the illustration, turning her head to look behind her as she runs toward an emanate and unknown danger was a good solution. Also, it demonstrates her heightened sense of paranoia that she arrives at by the end of the film. The iconic image reads instantly: the feeling that you need to look over your shoulder because danger or death may be behind you, stalking from the depths of the shadows. This deep seeded primal fear of being hunted, being the prey, is something we all can identify with, even as sophisticated animals. We still have those instincts inside us. I wanted to draw sharp relief on to that very primal fear. The image of Sydney being hunted by 2 killers is the heart of what this film is about: predator and prey. The film plays with who is hunting who as well... again, clever writing. I framed the illustration with a the upheld brandished knife held by the costumed/robed killer (one of them) the other is lurking in the doorway behind Sydney. The silhouette holding the mask: my own personal nod to the original inspiration of the story's killer (Michael Myers.) The "Shadow" is always an ominous presence. The silhouette also reflects that of Mrs. Bates. [On a side note, I echoed Billy Loomis's Pose from the moment he stages being stabbed by The Killer to gain back Sydney's Trust. Billy is basically the figure in the doorway and Stewart, his accomplice, is the figure in the close foreground. Unless you're a REAL Movie Geek you would miss that one.]
Let's talk style: I was very much inspired by the Vintage Horror Film posters of the 50s & 60s. I really am a fan of Hitchcock's film posters and really took most of my visual influence from those.
I was also HEAVILY influenced by the poster for the original Halloween. I thought that it would be a nice touch to add a stylistic influence from this poster since that film's influence has also touched the film in several ways. It also is responsible for some of my compositional choices.... It was all alot of influence and style to take in. A style I don't normally illustrate in, myself. But then again, I never make things easy for myself. I felt my chosen medium lent well to expressing this style of Poster Illustration.
Let's talk medium: Since this was a project for the Drawing Club, I wanted to use the assignment as a means to practice something specifically about drawing. Since I am currently studying and working in Black and white, I wanted to create this image with a Black and White Medium. I am learning my way through scratch board, so I figured this project would be another "good-as-any" reason to practice my hands with that specific medium. I found that it is a bit unforgiving, but allows great control in creating value in rendering forms.
Just real quick, On creating the running image of Sydney Prescott: I had to create this figure from several reference pieces as nowhere in the film does she do this action seen full body. I felt a bit like Dr. Frankenstein in this sense (appropriately so.) I thought it might be fun to share all the reference that went into it as sort of a behind-the-illustration kind of thing. Since I have spent most of the past couple of weeks with ALL 4 SCREAM Movies playing on loop in my studio (to help keep me focused and on point with this project) I thought it would be funny to add these images as kind of a "bonus material" of sorts. Cheesily echoing what you would find on your DVDs: Movie:Bonus... So Illustration:Bonus.... I may have been up too long to have written that last. lol.
Well this is pretty much A "Wrap!" ;0P I've covered everything I wanted to discuss involving this project. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend. Maybe this poster might inspire you to watch a Scary Movie, or maybe even enjoy SCREAM again.
until next time...
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art.