HOW TO MAKE A NOT-CRAPPY MOVIE POSTER / by Justin Warren

A lot goes into a movie poster. Good ones are tough to get right and very, very easy to get wrong. Attempting to sum up a two hour movie, in just one single image, challenged us to better understand our own creation. 

We’ve gone through more iterations of our poster than I’d care to admit. But much like the filmmaking process itself, every iteration (or straight up misfire) informs and builds upon the last, and has inched us closer to what we’re declaring to be our “official poster.” 

Cool, huh!? I hope it grabs your attention and promises a fun, unpredictable adventure of sibling rivalry! 

We’re doing a limited run of our poster on high quality matte paper, which is now available in our shop. If you’d like to hang this bad boy on your wall, for the next week, it's 20% off!

MISSTARTS, MULLIGANS AND DO OVERS

My first instinct for our poster design came to me early during the editing process while crafting an unusual scene in the second half of the movie. It’s one of those scenes that is difficult to “unsee.” So, I figured It would be wicked clever to reference that moment, all while attempting to communicate that this film is a comedy about an rule-breaking tough guy. I’m embarrassed to show you this, but here was my first initial mock-up I made over a year ago.

ttwj poster mock up v1.jpg

Yes, I’m well aware. If Adobe Photoshop were a school, I’d be a grown ass man reading at a first grade reading level. I’m actually embarrassed that mock-up has even seen the light of day, but what the hell.


At the time, it seemed like the best idea ever. So I hired our brilliant D.P. Charles Leisenring (who is also a brilliant graphic designer and animator) to create it for us. After a few days, he sent me this, which I, to this day, very much like.

TTWJ Movie Poster - charles version.jpg

I definitely wanted something that would make you do that dog-head-tilt-thing when you saw it, which I think this achieves. But as we began testing the poster on people unfamiliar with the film, we got some consistent, surprising responses.

“It looks like a movie about frat guy at Christmas who goes to jail” 

Hmmm. Kinda. Minus the Christmas and the frat part.

So, we went back to the drawing board. At one point I thought it would be fun to do a family portrait, highlighting Joe as the “outsider” of the family. The photo itself, taken by the talented Rich Gordon, was awesome. But again, much like filmmaking, things that feel great while you’re shooting, don’t necessarily translate the way you thought they would. My wife bragged that she could knock the poster out on her off day. Although she'd never even seen photoshop, she was confident that a solid hour of online tutorials would give her all the skills she needed.

This is what she came up with.  

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 11.11.34 PM.png

OH MY SWEET LORD, GOD, NO. NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is it obvious that I hate this with the fury of a thousand suns? My wife is the most amazing person on Earth, but she is no Photoshop prodigy.

And in a moment of despair, it hit me. At its core, the movie is about the journey of two related strangers who finally discover what it means to be brothers. The orange recalls prison jumpsuits, which is a connection you’d likely make after watching the film. I wanted it to feel like it was hand made. Made with love. Like our film. Then There Was Joe is a fun, wild adventure between two very different people. We pared it down to its essence. And I’m so very glad we did.

Pick up a limited-run copy of the poster in our shop while it's on sale!