Movie posters vary in design and can be as unique as the movies they promote. The most common style of movie poster is structured from the top down; the names of the top stars, the movie title, main graphic or image, and then the block of production credits at or near the bottom. Although you may have to adhere to contractual obligations when designing a credit block, there are a few steps that will help you create a template to work with.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Mac or PC with graphic design capabilities
- Adobe Photoshop
- SteelTongs font
- Design graphics
Make a note of all the credits to be include. They do not have to be in any specific order yet, but get them down on paper. Typically, this will include the main cast, producer, associate producers, director, screenwriter, production company (or companies), production designer, music composer, editor, and production designer.
Consult with your production team to confirm any contractual obligations that relate to inclusion or exclusion of credits. You may have more crew members listed or have some omitted. It is important to get the guidelines (if there are any) for the specific film you are working on. Proofread your list to confirm you have the names of everyone who is to be included, and make absolutely certain their names are spelled correctly.
Open your poster file in Photoshop file on your computer. You will want to keep individual poster elements in "layers". Photoshop treats layers as sheets of paper stacked onto each other so that you can edit the parameters of one element without effecting others. Create a new layer by clicking on the icon on the layer palette that looks like a square with a turned page. This automatically creates and selects a new layer. Now select your text tool by clicking on the "T" button on the tool palette and drag out a text box in the lower quarter of the poster. Keep this text in a new layer in the event you must make alterations at a later time.
Poster credits are designed with the production title written small and the crew members' names written in large capital letters. Such fonts, known as "Steeltongs," are already formatted for this and can save a lot of time as opposed to formatting it yourself. Familiarise yourself with this font. Because names are written entirely in capital letters, the lower case fonts have been programmed with production titles. Make a note of which letter creates which title.
Click on your text box, and unless you are instructed to do otherwise by the production team, present the credits in the following order: Production studio, director (written as "a film by"), cast members with top billing, music composer, costume designer, film editor, production designer, director of photography, executive producers, story by, screenplay by, producers and director.
The director and producers are often listed last because union contracts often negotiate actor names to be top billed. The director's name goes at the very end as per an agreement between the Director's Guild of America and the Hollywood studios that the director receive his name listed on his very own slate at the end of the credits for prominent display. The director's name is often listed twice contractually depending on the director's standing.
Adjust your list so that it is neat and easy to read. If a person's name does not fit at the end of a line, do not split the name. Move it down to the next line and adjust the spacing and kerning to so that each line is the same width and the entire text block appears neat and clean.
If there are any logos that need to be included, make a new layer and add them in a line underneath the credit block. These logos are often graphic counterparts of the credits themselves, such as studio logos. If there is a website tied to the film, include it on this line as well.
Proofread everything and consult your notes to make sure you have added every name that needs to be included. A helpful proofreading trick is to read the text beginning with the last word and move backward to the beginning. This will help you see the text with an unfamiliar eye so you will be more likely to catch errors as you process each word. Your movie poster credits are now complete.
Tips and warnings
- Download high resolution images of recent movie posters. While there is a general structure, most posters will differ in some way. Compare them and select a style that you find appealing.
- Errors on a movie poster or anything involving credits can be extremely costly in both money for the production and damage to your career. Some errors may even bring legal ramifications.
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