Film poster conventions To consider how the film poster creates meaning and how it works in conjunction with other media products.
Key questions from media know it all When analysing a poster, you should consider the following broad questions before you start to focus on the details: What are the main colours used in the poster? What do they connote? What symbols are used in the poster? Do you need audience foreknowledge to decode the symbols? What are the main figures/objects/background of the poster? Are they represented photographically, graphically, or illustratively? Are the messages in the poster primarily visual, verbal, or both? Who do you think is the intended audience for the poster? Given that all movie posters have the same purpose - to get audiences to go see a movie - what persuasive techniques are used by the poster? Which genre conventions are referred to? Is a star used as a USP? Are "expert witnesses" (ie critics) quoted? What pleasures (gratifications) are promised by the poster? How is attention gained (humour, shock, surprise)? How does the tagline work? (humour, pun, alliteration etc?)
Analysing film posters Types 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 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.
Identify the Genre The poster will often give away the genre of the film
Character Poster – this would feature the main character or in this case the main characters. It could be a combination of two types so that it gives away the genre as well or is a teaser etc.
• 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
Key questions in depth 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 like a montage Is the key image a still from the film? • 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?
Written Text: Is there a catch or tagline? 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? Colours and layout 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 and 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).