Designing a Film Festival

I am art directing the Traverse City Film Festival for its fifth anniversary year. It’s a really cool event to have here in Michigan and I’m thankful we have something like this to look forward to in such a down time in the economy. Last year was the first time I ever volunteered and attended the festival.

If you don’t know much about the festival here’s a short history: The Traverse City Film Festival was founded by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. The festival is held annually in Traverse City, Michigan. It is now one of the largest film festivals in the Midwest. There are close to 100 films screened and many are US or world premieres. In addition, it is a non-profit educational and charitable organization.

The poster design was the first piece I created to help set the tone of the festival. Since this year was an anniversary year I felt it was important to tie back into the real soul of the festival and have a sort of nostalgia in the artwork for it. One of the great things about the festival is the Open Space venue. They inflate a movie screen, float it out on the lake and show free movies like The Goonies. There is nothing better on a summer night than watching a classic movie under the night sky with friends and family. The current Traverse City Film Festival logo depicts this scene and I thought it might be fun to take the illustration and make it “real”. After working on the idea the scene became more stylized and surreal. I liked the look and then added some type that would fit that old Hollywood movie poster look.

There are many different elements that need to tie into the main look to create a successful campaign for something like this. I worked on everything from credentials to schedule posters to ballots for film voting. This also included creating merchandise art for T-shirts and even labels for wine bottles. It’s a lot of fun to pull it all together, and it means also staying very organized. It’s been ages since I opened InDesign to do print work, so that was another challenge.

There are so many fantastic choices this year. I have a good amount of foreign, documentary and indie films in my schedule to check out. A few of my top must-see-movies are Dead Snow, The Cove, and Big Fan. All in all it’s been a great honor to be a part of such a great organization and helping create the “face” of the festival this year. I can’t wait to check out the great films and hear what some of the directors and actors have to say about them.

Tickets go on sale to the public this week. For more information and to check out the films they will be showing go to Traverse City Film Festival.