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Eight and a Half Creates Memorable Movie Trailers for Criterion Collection

by Emily Potts
art & design

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Design studio Eight and a Half, has been creating some of the most memorable television title graphics in the past five years including The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, followed by The Late Show with Seth Meyers, HBO’s Saving My Tomorrow, and many others. Founded by Bonnie Siegler (formerly the partner at Number 17), the firm, which does branding, logo design, editorial, websites and more, also boasts clients like Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, The Daily Beast, Participant Media, The Brooklyn Public Library, among many more.

The work the firm has been doing for Criterion Collection for the past four years, is some of their best. They create theatrical release trailers, as well as short promotional pieces that advocate Criterion’s DVDs. These 90 second trailers are called “Three Reasons.” Siegler explains, “Criterion has incredible DVDs with unbelievable extras. People collect them. So they asked us to come up with a way to promote them, without showing old trailers. I thought it would be cool to come up with three reasons why this movie is in the Criterion Collection.”

The first thing Siegler does is watch the movie, “as a regular person would—no note taking,” she says. Then she watches it a second time, taking notes, and coming up with a storyboard. She works with Criterion and her editor to develop a narrative and, sometimes, for the theatrical trailers, begins with a storyboard.

“We come with ideas and see if we can illustrate them,” Siegler explains. “It’s almost like what you would do if you were laying out a magazine, it just happens to be in motion. We know the story before we go in. We watch it, study it, we take notes, and make this thing, and hopefully it’s compelling.”

One of her favorite trailers is for The Freshman. Even though it’s a silent movie, Eight and a Half manages to make it seem modern, capturing its quirky humor and drawing viewers in with short statements about Speedy, the main character, while showing fun footage from the film. “It’s such a treat to get to study these classic works of art and watch these amazing scenes over and over. That was especially true with Harold Lloyd [the actor who played Speedy].”

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There’s a lot to love about these Criterion trailers, and Siegler is in an enviable position in that she gets paid to watch all these great movies and create a memorable synopsis for each one. Having now done more than 120 “Three Reasons” videos, there is no shortage of what’s to come, as Criterion releases around five or six films a month. Siegler also shares a Three Reasons video twice a month in her column on Design Observer.

Shout outs to Peter Becker, Kim Hendrickson and Mollie Goldstein, who are the other 75 percent of the Three Reasons team.

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Emily Potts

Emily J. Potts has been a writer and editor in the design industry for more than 20 years. Currently she is an independent writer working for a variety of clients in the design industry. www.emilyjpotts.com