Thursday, April 21, 2011

Process Puffery

PBS asked me write a brief on the creative process of the Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides title design to attach to an awards submission.

They wanted it in first person singular, which I find a little difficult when talking about production.  They also needed it under 100 words.  This is my first draft, it's a little longer:

Early in the production of “Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides” -even before the film had a title -director Gail Levin asked me to start thinking about design and graphics.

Design in a film like this should be unseen, the subject is the star and the graphics should reflect the character and not make too strong a statement on its own. I immediately gravitated towards Jeff's drawings. First attempts felt too practiced, too separate from the subject. This led to asking Jeff to paint on screen.

Again, the idea is for the craft to be invisible so the focus can be on Jeff and his creative process. I advised Gail on the best way to shoot -the materials, the colors, the lengths and angles of the shots and she gave Jeff the space to create his painting.

Having already anticipated that we would animate this finished art into the film title, not even knowing what he would come up with, when he produced a horse, we felt that this would make a great motif to carry throughout the picture -carrying his on screen roles from the rustic “Last Picture Show” through “True Grit”.

The title would link through music into open credit sequence. This presented a different set of obstacles. Beyond assigning production credits, we had to introduce the elements of Jeff the documentary would explore -actor, photographer, family man. Using the approach to his photography which we had already developed we used his pictures as graphic transitional elements amongst quick cuts of his acting roles and red carpet footage which served as a bed for a simple but soft type design.

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