Monday, 14 December 2009

The Distributor's Marketing Campaign: how to analyse film posters

Of course, in the Exam there is no way that you can say everything about how your distributor's film poster targets its audience. Still, an analysis of two- three of its most important features will go a long way to earning you marks when writing a  paragraph or so about this in your exam essay.

When you analyse any film poster you need to establish the type of film poster you are looking at.

The type of poster: Identify which type of poster it is: the teaser poster -this poster contains basic information to whet your appetite. It often does not indicate much about the plot, but may have a picture of the stars, and the name of the film.

The main theatrical poster- This contains information about the production personnel, the stars, and the distributors.

Video/DVD release poster - This one comes out when the film is released on DVD/video and often has all of the above plus short, one line reviews from relevant publications.

Character Poster – this one features the main character. Remember that the posters could be a combination of two types. The poster above focuses on the 'ensemble cast'.

For greater depth consider:
Images of the key settings and the main characters. What is the title of the film? What can you say about the way in which the title graphics have been written? Who is starring in the film? Where are the stars’ names placed on the poster? Why? Describe the key images on your poster. Why have they been chosen? Talk about what images are used - stars, setting, colours, symbols, (mise-en-scene). What do they suggest/signify? What other pictures can you see? What is their purpose? What are the most important colours on your poster? Why do you think these were chosen? What do you think the film will be about? Who is the target audience?

Narrative: What clues are there to the narrative? What can you tell about the genre of the film and the types of characters from their facial expression, body language, stance, appearance and position on the poster? What makes you say this? What impression do you get of the character/personalities from their expression, clothes, props. Is there an enigma being presented? Is the poster composed of a series of images (montage, lack of perspective) Is the key image a still from the film?

Colours: What colours are used in the posters? Are they relevant to the genre e.g. horror posters generally use dark strong colours especially black and red to represent death and evil. Romance films tend to employ lighter pastel and warm colours such as pinks, purples and other warm shades. Are the colours on your poster important? Why? What clues do they give about the genre, and how do they attract the target audience?

Layout: Write about how the images are laid out. Are they are blended in without any concern for real perspective or size relationships between people and setting. Why do you think they are laid out like that? Do you know what the plot, genre and/or theme of the film is? If so,how? Most posters are Portrait or Landscape in shape. What shape is yours? Describe and discuss the title, font, typeface and graphics on the poster. What style are they in, where are they positioned etc? has the poster been painted and printed or produced using DTP 
(mention how improvements in technology have changed production values)

Written text: Is there a catch or tag-line? What does it tell us about the action, genre and attitude within the film? Who do you think is the target audience for the film? How has the poster been made attractive to these people? Discuss the billing/credit block. What information does it include about credits and information? Do we get information about who is in the cast, who directed the film, which company distributes it and promotes it etc? Where is the certificate? What does it indicate about the target audience and the content of the film? Does the poster list a website? If not, why not?

Finally, what is the USP (the unique selling point) in each poster? What makes it different from other films? The plot, stars, themes, setting or characters? Sometimes you can have  more than one USP.

For your case study institution's film you should   focus  your attention on the main theatrical poster. The one below is a teaser.

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