Thursday, October 1, 2009

Downhill Racer

Uh oh... this brings us to the end of my cache of pre-written posts. I'll try to get a few more under my belt ASAP to prevent future delays, but, y'know, good intentions are the devil's asphalt (or whatever that saying is.) Anyway...

The concept for Downhill Racer came pretty easily: the film, about an arrogant but talented athlete, has some really dynamic skiing visuals, and a freeze-frame sequence during the opening credits that just begs to be made into a cover. There was also this pretty great-looking original poster:



...but frankly, the film is anything but a love story, and we all felt it was pretty misleading. Better, I thought, to focus on the great skiing cinematography--shot on skis in large part--that's such a big part of the film. So here's a bunch of comps based on framegrabs from the film, which I think give a nice flavor for the movie:



I did try a few variations on the original poster, trying to focus on the arrogance of Redford's character rather than the less-important "love" story, but that wound up looking too "Hollywood," like we were just trying to put a big celebrity head on the disc to sell some copies. (Not that there's anything wrong with selling some copies!) And the other version is just a bit flat.



So that first one up top was the favorite, but no one was quite sold on the type. I tried a few more options, with the boldest below emerging as the favorite:



We went back and forth on whether we should include stars names or not, and finally decided we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot to NOT mention Robert Redford and Gene Hackman when we have the chance, so on they went, and here's the final cover:

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

this cover is poor in all honesty, the big chunky font is just horrible.

Eric Skillman said...

Well, you can't please everyone, I suppose. Hopefully you'll like the next one. Thanks for commenting anonymously!

Anonymous said...

(Just curious) Why do all the covers, excluding the final one, have the date along the spine marked as 1955?

Eric Skillman said...

No big mystery: that just happened to be the date on my generic branding template when I started "sketching," and it wasn't until I actually started putting together final files (i.e. full wrap, front and back) that I bothered to check that detail. I'd guess most of the unused covers on this blog have "1955" on them, actually, since I use that same template a lot.

Scott said...

I generally like your work but I don't think this one is too fantastic either... It reminds me of those cheap paperbacks where they look at the book title and from that slap on the most literal generic/stock photo they can find.

Jamie said...

I actually like it for the reason Scott said. Having never heard of the film and judging it by its plot, it does indeed seem like a cheap fictional book from that era, not some grander treatise on love and skiing, and your cover encapsulates it in a single image. Not too complicated, but straight-forward and kind of cool to look at -- an apt description, I'm sure, for a sports movie about skiing.

Anonymous said...

You idiots featured an extreme sport as your key art!...Uh...lets see...uh ....about 2% of the mass audience can relate to that activity. How do you expect the mass audience and relate to your concept and want to come see your film ... when you tell them its all about something they are totally unwilling to try themselves and therefore totally unwilling to put themselves in the shoes of the lead! You screwed up by not using the kissing shot!...Hell...even I would want to kiss Redford and I'm not even gay! And I used to be a downhill pro and I would rather see the kissing. Why do you think we race? For the kissing you fools!

MMillerGD said...

My favorites are the two that payed homage to the original poster. But the final solution is not at all bad.

I disagree with the anonymous logic that people are uninterested in things they wouldn't try themselves. That is ridiculous.

Harry Lime said...

Anonymous, give the guy a break. If criterion wanted to appeal to the mass audience they'd be using floating heads and actor credits on the covers.

Eric, I quite like the final choice. What do you end up doing for the stills. I know you use HD framegrabs for these, but when its approved, do you just go into the 35mm print, find the frame, and scan it?

Redunbeck said...

I hate to join the downers here, but I must say that the cover you went with makes this look like some bizarre sequel to TRON. I know it's an actual framegrab, but I think you must admit that Redford looks like he's covered in those glowing neon tubes like the TRON suits.

Of course, I'm just some schmuck on the internet and you and your bosses are the ones who've made it in the business, so what do I know. Personally, though, I think the poster is gorgeous enough to sell copies just on sight. I'd pick that up if I saw it on a shelf, even if I'd never heard of the film (or perhaps especially if I'd never heard of it. I'd want to know about anything that inspired so lovely an image!). I even like the two covers you designed from that similar template (the big head and the "flat" one as you call it (I think it's lovely, not flat at all, myself)).

Again, I'm sorry to join the downers here. I do enjoy quite a lot of your work on the whole.

seth said...

I'm actually a big fan of this cover. Nice work.

Command Pictures said...

Great cover, Eric. Actually one of my favorites you've done. It conveys the speed and the insanity of the racing scenes in the movie. Nice job...

Christian N. said...

The packaging design is what sold me. It offset my initial feelings of the film, and I'm glad it did.