René Ferracci on movie posters

“I have a job. And my job is to stand aside in front of the films that I am going to show. Throughout my youth I saw very beautiful posters. Truly epic frescoes drawn and painted by fabulous artists. My first real work was for The Wages of Fear by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It was just a copy of what was happening then. Not as good, necessarily. We had to evolve. But how?

And then one day something obvious struck me. I finally understood what made all the posters look the same. Cinema was afraid of negative space. People in the trade thought that leaving negative space on a poster was undignified, a sign of poverty of lack of inspiration. We filled the frame without leaving the slightest space unfilled.

The poster should not reveal everything that a dramatic story contains. I have therefore always looked for a stylization which restores the general meaning. The film is the photo; the poster artist draws the caption. Good formula, no?

But I admit that I have to fight to impose an idea, a design. Producers and directors prefer what the public already knows about the film to appear on a poster. I prefer to put in what we get out of it when we’ve already seen it. I am a spectator poster artist and not a photogram painter.”

— René Ferracci (via L’annee du Cinema)