PBS asked me write a brief on the creative process of the Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides title design to attach to an awards submission.
They wanted it in first person singular, which I find a little difficult when talking about production. They also needed it under 100 words. This is my first draft, it’s a little longer:
Early in the production of “Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides” -even before the film had a title -director Gail Levin asked me to start thinking about design and graphics.
Design in a film like this should be unseen, the subject is the star and the graphics should reflect the character and not make too strong a statement on its own. I immediately gravitated towards Jeff’s drawings. First attempts felt too practiced, too separate from the subject. This led to asking Jeff to paint on screen.
Again, the idea is for the craft to be invisible so the focus can be on Jeff and his creative process. I advised Gail on the best way to shoot -the materials, the colors, the lengths and angles of the shots and she gave Jeff the space to create his painting.
Having already anticipated that we would animate this finished art into the film title, not even knowing what he would come up with, when he produced a horse, we felt that this would make a great motif to carry throughout the picture -carrying his on screen roles from the rustic “Last Picture Show” through “True Grit”.
The title would link through music into open credit sequence. This presented a different set of obstacles. Beyond assigning production credits, we had to introduce the elements of Jeff the documentary would explore -actor, photographer, family man. Using the approach to his photography which we had already developed we used his pictures as graphic transitional elements amongst quick cuts of his acting roles and red carpet footage which served as a bed for a simple but soft type design.
These are two clips from a sequence we did for Gail Levin’s American Masters’ Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides.
Since Starman, Jeff Bridges has chronicled the production of all his films with his widelux camera. He then prints a small run of books as wrap gifts to cast and crew.
Presenting photography in documentary can present a tough issue. Showcasing the image is the primary task, so you want to respect the image, intent and cultural context of the picture.
In this case presentation is made even more difficult by the ultra-wide format of the camera.
So we decided to show the books instead of creating a digital graphic presentation.
The idea was to evoke an intimate, personal feeling with the books. The photographer has an unusually personal relationship to the subjects, so we felt as though the “hand” should feel present here too.
So we shot a test in a couple hours, it was probably about three minutes long. A few days later, Jed Parker, the film’s editor, trimmed it to the length they needed. We then reshot to match that length.
Tonight is the last night for Geoff Marslett’s “Mars” in DUMBO.
CLICK HERE for info.
Whatever your plans are -change them. Go to this instead. Unless you’re already planning to go, then don’t change your plans.
Our pal Doug Vitarelli just finished a website for kids www.whereisolifant.com
about a dinosaur that lives in Central Park.
It’s fun interactive site, even if you’re older than the target audience.
On a futurist academic note, site like this are the leading edge of a new form of storytelling. They mix traditional storybook material -words and drawings -but add time through animation and the non-linear reading experience.
Sam Henderson was in town for some comic book thing.
He stayed on our couch. He could purchase a party loft on Fifth Avenue if everyone bought one of his works of art for a loved one for Christmas.
We’re hard at work on Gail Levin’s “Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides” for American Masters.
PBS has put a trailer clip up on their site.
Folks in Germany get the opportunity to see our pal Martha Colburn in a big show.