A trend that has developed over the last several years is the return of Illustrated Screen Prints and especially ones that are inspired by the fandom or pop culture universe. With a resurgence of movie poster collecting, fans were eager for an old school approach to the art form rather than the stale cookie cutter photo-shopped efforts that were forced upon them in the 1990’s. The expository indie documentary, 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters dives back into the history of movie posters and the artists who made them. It takes us through the chronology that lead us to this current renaissance of hand drawn illustrated poster art and speaks with some of the artists and benefactors involved. Take a look at the trailer…
First a confession, I myself am one of those fans. I am a collector of movie posters and illustrated screen prints so this movie was fun for me to watch, in fact some of the pieces that I own and the artists that created them show up so it was extra special for me to see artists like Tim Doyle, Laurent Durieux, Roger Kastel and Matt Tobin wax about the form.
This documentary does a nice job of going back to the origins of movie poster art and the part it played in the early marketability of the films. Playbills and window-stills were the studio’s only way of advertising back in those days so artists were employed (without credit) to create images that would entice potential customers. Store fronts and marquees were prime real estate for studios looking to get the word out. Nowadays galleries like Mondo are being sought out by studio’s to create original artwork for their films. These limited editions sell out very fast and this has led to an after-market full of “day traders” that has some people feeling left out.
We spoke with director (and collector) Kevin Burke about the current state of things and if there’s a bright future for this once niche market…
I am a collector, yeah. I used to collect one-sheets as a kid. I’d put my name on a waiting list at my local video store and cinema for when a poster would come down out of the marquee. I stopped collecting one-sheets in the mid-90s when the art was changing (and I was also becoming a teenager and focused on other things). My fiancée bought me a Mondo print 6 years ago (There Will Be Blood by Olly Moss) and I feel in love with a new kind of poster collecting. I’ve been collecting screen-prints ever since. A couple of years later, Andrea (same fiancée) was doing a lecture on the history of horror movie posters. We found out that Gary Pullin, one of our favorite artists, was local to Toronto so as part of the lecture we put together a video interview and I animated some of his posters. It was a hit. So we decided to move ahead on the doc.
That’s a great print, the oil pump-jack in the shape of a cross is wonderful. Next question…was this movie self funded or did you gather investors?
We ran a Kickstarter early on in production and very much have our backers to thank for getting the film off the ground. Following that, the majority was self funded and we had a financier come in toward the end to help us produce the last couple of scenes we had to shoot. But it’s a very, very independent movie.
You talked to so many great artists and galleries, was there any artists you really wanted for the film but couldn’t get for whatever reason? Also, it was great to see Matt Ryan Tobin representing…I’ve got two of his prints.
There were quite a few. Would have loved to have spoken with Olly Moss and Tyler Stout, among others, but ultimately we collected so many interviews that many ended up on the special features of the disc simply because they couldn’t be fit into the feature – more so do to the narrative we were following and not the profile of the artists. Editing a documentary is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Glad you mentioned Matty! He’s a good friend and insanely talented artist. He actually came up with the concept for our poster and did the art direction on it.
Is the “24×36” movie poster going to be mass produced?
At this point that’ll be up to our distributors – FilmRise (Worldwide) and Raven Banner (Canada). But they’re great distributors, and if they see a demand for it then I’m sure it’ll happen.
I found Tim Doyle’s position of not being considered a “collectible artist” interesting. Did you find that many artists were concerned with the after-market situation on the retail side of things? Do the folks at Mondo feel any type of responsibility for being a major part of the after-market scene? I know I’ve cursed them out loud when I’ve lost out on a print!
Not really. I think that ever has a respectable opinion on the matter and they all pretty well stay faithful to that opinion. I understand both sides of the argument. I mean, Mondo wants to create something cool, licensed and limited, but they can’t control what others are going to do with it. And Tim and many other artists just want to create the best art they can out of the properties they love and share it with fans. Personally, I just snag the art that appeals to me the most, whether it’s licensed, limited or not. I have a ton of limited prints and a ton of open run prints. The one thing they all have in common is that I love the art.
With poster art events like MondoCon getting bigger each year and now after having made the film, do you see the market staying niche or is their still opportunity for growth?
I absolutely think there’s opportunity for growth. In fact, I hope that’s what the takeaway is at the end of the film – that illustrated art in movie marketing is important and can always have a place. A ton of indie production companies are now using artists from the screen-print world to make marketing and cover art and I’d love to see that trend continue. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more big studios playing with illustration in key art down the line.
Finally, do you have a favorite piece and artist, alive or dead?
As for my favorite – it’ll always be the E.T. teaser poster by the late John Alvin. It’s a masterpiece.
I’ve got the “Art of John Alvin” on my coffee table, big fan also. Kevin, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Good luck with the film going forward and whatever’s up next for you. Are you planning on doing anything at Fan Expo in the fall?
Potentially. It’s still up in the air, but I think we’ll be well represented at the Raven Banner booth at Fan Expo at the very least. And it was my pleasure. Thanks for checking out the film!
24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters is now available on iTunes, Amazon, BluRay/DVD and VUDU.
For more information go to http://www.24x36movie.com.
For the record, my favorite all time poster artist is Roger Kastel and his Empire Strikes Back Style “A” one sheet is my all time favorite poster.
Till next time…