Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Great Laurel Debate

For a novice film-maker, receiving those first set of laurels is a monumental occasion that goes right up there with the first IMDb credit. It makes no difference which festival they came from, they are like a badge of honor that proves that somebody out there thinks the film is good.

More sets of laurels follow. Most are Official Selections, but there might be some Semi-Finalist or Finalists in the mix. And if the Film Gods are smiling down on the project, there may even be a few Winners. All are proudly displayed on the film's poster for everyone to see. 

If the film is good and the film-maker keeps it in the festival circulation for a while, the laurel collection can grow into a vast forest that reaches beyond the open spaces on the poster and begins to deface it.

And so the great debate begins as to how many laurels should be displayed, from which festivals, or should they even be there at all?

It really boils down to what message the film-maker wishes to send and the audience that is to receive that message. 

If the goal is to impress the masses who aren't keen to the hierarchy of film festivals, then a poster overflowing with laurels certainly does the trick. It's a good idea to plan ahead for this and make sure that the poster design has plenty of open space to display the laurels without obstructing the artwork.

However, if the aim is to impress saavy film-makers and investors, a poster covered with laurels from lower-level festivals may bring about little more than a few snickers. To make an impression on that crowd, you need laurels from top-tier festivals like Sundance or Cannes tastefully displayed on the poster.

There is some debate as to whether or not Official Selection laurels should be displayed. It seems unfair that these are looked down upon by some, given that they are earned by beating out hundreds, if not thousands, of other entries. A truly knowledgeable person will recognize it as an honor, but there are those uppity folks who argue that only winning or nomination laurels should appear on a poster. 

The safest route is just to keep laurels off of your poster altogether and just use them on the film's website or other promotional materials.

Yes, this is a real movie poster.

Another option is to have three versions of the poster: one clean, one with only Winner laurels, and one that showcases every set of laurels the film has earned. That way you can use whichever poster best suits the occasion.

Regardless of how you decide to decorate your poster, don't ever let the laurel snobs get you down. You may not have a Sundance-worthy film, but you do have a film that several other festivals have a high opinion of.



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