Sleeves, booklets, and disc art for Arrow Academy
I was given all three of these projects back in March and worked on them pretty much simultaneously throughout the spring and summer. As you'll see below, the cover for Life... was the biggest challenge while the rest of the work was more or less standard operating procedure.
Life Is a Long Quiet River
The first film directed by Étienne Chatiliez, Life is a Long Quiet River is a comedy about babies switched at birth and the collision of two very different families.
The Arrow producers only had this one still for me to use and they requested that, rather than placing the photo in a frame, that I instead extend the wallpaper. Thankfully I had enough of an area to clone so I just went one step at a time until the entire space was filled. I then burned and dodged certain spots and generally smoothed out the transitions between cloned layers.
I played around with different typefaces and color lookup adjustments. #3 was the winner.
Arrow later supplied me with additional stills for the booklet which required light to moderate retouching. I should point out that I feel no obligation to replicate the look of the film — I consider the booklet a separate entity entirely and the stills are retouched for that purpose.
The reverse sleeve was rather simple... I traced out the French title treatment in Illustrator and combined that with the artwork from the Spanish poster. I also created a single-line title treatment for the spine and added film festival laurels to the back as well.
Given the themes of family and childhood, my first thought for the booklet was "Picture frames!" The frames came from Shutterstock and the free website Pixabay. The classic typeface Baskerville was used for the body text with Collier Bold for headings. Originally this was to be a 24-page booklet but I got it all in 16 pages.
The booklets are always proofread by multiple parties including myself but on an international production, it's doubly important: translations, accent marks, etc. It all has to be double- and triple-checked. Even the title itself: is it Life is a Long Quiet River or Life Is a Long Quiet River? I had used the former but it turns out the latter is correct so I had to check each instance of the title so they'd all match.
Toto the Hero
The debut film of Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael, Toto the Hero tells the story of Thomas, who believes he was switched at birth and obsesses about how his life might've turned out differently. An unreliable narrator, he often imagines himself as a fictional spy, the eponymous Toto.
As with Life..., I only had one image to use and I did my best with it. I was told it needed to have a "magic realism" vibe, hence the clouds and the bokeh effect. Admittedly, the masking could've been finessed a bit but when I finally realized that, it was too late. The Arrow producers chose #4.
This is once instance where the reverse sleeve isn't that different, since both sleeves are sourced from the same poster. I painted out the French title and replaced it with an English version which I traced in Illustrator. Thankfully all the letters were accounted for so I didn't have to approximate any from scratch. Once again, I created film festival laurels and a narrower title treatment for the spine. I also ended up painting out "Un Film De" and re-typed it in InDesign. The font is Futura Bold, vertically compressed by 20%.
I was not given any additional stills but the producers were able to supply me with HD screenshots. Many of them featured characters in low light which allowed me to extend the shadowy areas to the margin.
As a former retail employee, this film was right up my alley. The debut of French filmmaker Cédric Klapisch, Little Nothings is a satire of business and management, revolving around the Parisian department store Les Grandes Galeries, whose staff is a microcosm of French society. While reading the essay, I was surprised to find out that the director not only studied film in the US, but wrote his thesis in part on Tex Avery cartoons and the Marx Brothers... definitely a filmmaker whose work I need to catch up on.
Once again, I only had one still to work with and in addition to different color lookup adjustments, I was able to explore different croppings as well. #6 was the winner with the title treatment from #5.
I created the final title treatment in Illustrator in both one- and -two line versions complete with ornaments. Later on, for contractual reasons, I had to add the production company and lead actor's name to it. I also created solid black and white variants — the white one ended up on the disc.
I re-created the original French poster from scratch. The fonts are Univers LT Std 59 Ultra Condensed, Arial Regular, and Futura Book. For the title treatment, I originally thought it was Optima but it turns out there were subtle differences. The end result is a mix of Optima (with individually-altered letters) and new letters created from scratch.
I was finally supplied with a handful of high-quality stills and they didn't require much work at all. And unlike Toto the Hero, the images were so bright and colorful, I didn't really want to crop or paint out anything.
Another straightforward booklet. I used Carilliantine for headings and Cormorant Garamond for body text. Given that the film takes place in a department store, I briefly toyed with the idea of formatting the booklet like a catalog but there wasn't enough time. And with two long essays, it really wouldn't have worked.