Attention dedicated film buffs: have you seen Saul Bass’s other sci-fi feature, Rendezvous with Rama? How about Luis Bunuel’s supernatural Las Fotografias? Or that low-budget thriller by Alfred Hitchcock’s nephew, Oh Shit, Bees!?
Of course you haven’t. They only exist in print form, as part of “Coming Soon,” an L.A. exhibition of designs for imaginary movie posters by directors such as Welles, Kubrick, Kurosawa and Tarkovsky. Dozens of original artworks will be on display, by creators from a spectrum of fields: graphic design, fine art, photography, illustration, animation, graffiti, comics, music video and such.
It’s all part of the 20th anniversary of Meltdown Comics, Hollywood’s large and spacious store for graphic novels toys, and a variety of pop culture items. Meltdown’s backroom performance space has been building buzz as it hosts performances by the likes of Louis C.K. and Robin Williams.
“Coming Soon” is the brainchild of writer and multimedia visual artist Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca. Gustavo told me how he was inspired to curate the show: “I created the exhibition thinking about the many forms of art that are part of the cinematic experience—image, sound, character, story, design—and how all these diverse mediums combine to create that experience.
“For example, graphic designer Saul Bass was also a film director and created only one full-length science fiction film, Phase IV. So I imagined what he would have done with Arthur C. Clarke’s famous novel Rendezvous with Rama.” Not to be confused with Stanley Kubrick’s Rendezvous with Rama, I assume… or Bass’s titles for Nine Hours to Rama, for that matter.
The opening reception for “Coming Soon” is coming as soon as this Friday, October 11th. Events that evening include a panel discussion with some of the featured artists.
Meanwhile, here’s a sneak preview of a few of the posters, with commentary by Vaca and his collaborator Kenny Keil, who I previously covered for Imprint here..
Vaca: I’m a big fan of Orson Welles’ films. And I’ve studied about his struggles to get films made throughout his career. So The Finality is a tribute to his creative vision, imagining the film he would have made had he been able to create a film based on his infamous 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast.
The film’s stars are actors he worked with since the Mercury Theatre productions in the 1930s and throughout his film career. The posters make up an imaginary ad campaign for the film.
Vaca: Starring Maria Felix, one of Mexico’s most well-known dramatic actresses, Las Fotografias is an imagined supernatural horror film written and directed by Luis Bunuel, the Spanish Surrealist film director who did create films in Mexico in the 1950s and 1960s. In the story, the woman’s photographs seem to come to life.
Keil: When Gustavo and I first started talking about doing an art show about “imaginary films” my mind immediately translated that as “abysmal failures.” I don’t know what that says about me as a man, but I do know the more I learn about the filmmaking process, the more stunned I am that anything ever manages to get made. So, Oh Shit, Bees! is a low-budget sci-fi thriller about genetically engineered weaponized bees accidentally getting set loose on an unsuspecting world.
But the real story is Barry Hitchcock—alleged nephew of Alfred Hitchcock, though this was never confirmed—who came along in the early 1970s hoping to cash in on the family name. Oh Shit, Bees! was his first, and last, foray into cinema, with production being derailed at every turn: money troubles, interpersonal turmoil, and lots and lots of bee stings. Barry disappeared during filming and was never heard from again. But thankfully, this poster still exists.
Keil: Our starting point for this one was vintage cartoons: everything from Krazy Kat and Mickey Mouse to Popeye and Betty Boop. The lead character, Driftwood, is sort of this lovable trickster olingo from a bygone era.
There’s a lot about Driftwood—an Invisible Island for that matter—that Gustavo and I still haven’t figured out yet, and that’s what makes this piece so exciting for me. It’s almost like we shot the movie trailer before there was even a script. My intent with this poster is to evoke a mood, create a character, and leave just enough visual cues that the audience will feel compelled to dream up the rest of the story for themselves. I invite them to go crazy because their guess is as good as mine.
From the Punk aesthetic, to the over-the-top posters of Bollywood, Print explores the past and present of poster design to inspire you to take the medium in new directions.