The mythical phrase “and the Oscar goes to” to date, it has not preceded any poster artist names and it does not appear that the Hollywood Academy has in mind in the short term to award movie posters. Pablo Matilla reveals to ICON Design the creative keys to a Hollywood poster. This 40-year-old designer from Extremadura, raised in Seville, has been making posters for the Mecca of cinema for almost two decades. His are the advertising graphics of Dunkerque, Interstellar, 1917 O Roma, which means that he has collaborated with some names that are already film history, such as Christopher Nolan, Sam Mendes or Alfonso Cuarón.
Matilla is the creator of the promotional image of many films that have made careers at the Oscars (the last of them, The Chicago 7 trial), but he acknowledges that Oscar movie posters do not necessarily share similarities, although they do define what they are not with aesthetic decisions. “I think most of them have honest graphics that try to be true to the artistic vision of the director and his team. They are a sample of the tone and genre of the film ”, he points out.
The designer talks enthusiastically about his work, he is happy to be able to put his imagination at the service of interesting projects, whatever their size. The creation of movie posters involves a multitude of professionals in the US industry – and increasingly in the Spanish industry – in complex processes, including a high number of trial and error cycles that make rejection management an art that should be taught in design schools.
The Extremaduran has never studied graphic design, but film in schools in Barcelona, Los Angeles and New York. As a poster artist, Matilla feels that his job is above all that of interpreting the director’s vision: “Obviously, you have the freedom to direct your attention to the moments in the film that seem most interesting to you and that represent it, but in the end it is the director who decides if you correctly translated his vision in a single brushstroke. The best film directors have a clear vision of their film, from the first frame to the last advertising element. Not everyone decides to get so involved in the process, but those who do want the poster to be faithful to their film, to the story they tell and to the tone of their artistic proposal ”.
As Matilla explains to ICON Design, the key to designing a good movie poster is to find the balance between art and advertising. “When they show an excess of advertising information they lose visual impact. On the other hand, there are very aesthetic posters that do not take anyone into a room because they are not a window to the narrative of the film. Hence, finding balance is so important, ”he explains.
“If you notice, both Dunkerque What 1917 they have certain similarities. The color palette on both posters are modern. The soldiers are not wearing helmets on their heads, they are not shooting or pointing at anyone, their bodily expressions are vulnerable. All this humanizes the characters and produces empathy in the viewer. Although both films fall into the category of war cinema, they are self-proclaimed anti-war, and this is reflected in their posters, ”says the designer. As for Interstellar, another peak of his career, Mantilla notes that it was a project with a lot of production value. For these types of films, studios make a lot of posters, rather than trying to fit everything into one image. “If you analyze the posters prior to mine that were made for this film, each one shows the different virtues of the film: space travel, the protagonist’s emotional connection with his daughter, the sense of adventure in a group,” says Mantilla.
The payoff [cartel definitivo diseñado por Pablo] it shows the protagonist’s vulnerability in a hostile place and doesn’t give many details of the story beyond that he is wearing a NASA suit. There isn’t even a spaceship. Although the film stars a well-known actor, no attempt is made to exaggerate his presence. “I think that’s where the movie studios are the brightest in their strategy of marketing, They are able to identify the main audience and give the basic information to attract it. Both on the poster Dunkerque as in that of Interstellar, the most important information is the director, Christoper Nolan, so we do without unnecessary distractions. Something equivalent can be applied to other cases such as Kong: Skull Island. There is a spectacular cast there and it is directed by a good director, but the main message that is released to the public is that it is from the producers of Godzilla”. The last one he has designed is also on this path: Godzilla vs. Kong.
“Movie studios can test posters the way they test movies, but in the end the best indicator that the poster is the right one is that the director likes it. There are people out there with much more talent than me. I’m just lucky to be in the right place at the right time to work on these films. It is not false humility, it is the truth ”, summarizes Mantilla.
In Spain, film posters are hardly rewarded, but the Feroz Awards (considered the Spanish Golden Globes) have a specific category for Best Poster. However, Matilla does not believe that this is going to be replicated, at least for the moment, in Hollywood: “I see an opposite trend, I think that televisions prefer award galas with fewer categories and more attention to the stars. We have other forums such as the Clio Entertainment or the Golden Trailer Awards, although I miss the missing Key Art Awards, in which the posters were judged by film genre and specialized professionals ”.
Pablo Matilla will likely never win an Oscar. Nor does he need.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.