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Black Mountain Side

Thankfully, the title of the film is easier to pronounce than the name of its director. Nick Szostakiwskyj (we'll call him Nick for short) hails from Vancouver in Canada, a country which is not short of film-making talent. Some of his best known compatriots include David Cronenberg, Paul Haggis, Denis Villeneuve, Atom Egoyan, Trevor Cornish, James Cameron, Jean-Marc Vallée, and Montreal-based group Roadkill Superstar. The country owes its dynamic film industry to a combination of factors: easy-going, open-minded film-makers, stunning scenery, and lower production costs than in the United States. It's hardly surprising, then, that the north American country is such a hot-bed of directing talent. Nick, one of the fore-runners in this eminent cohort of directors, makes his first foray into the feature-film market with Black Mountain Side, a film which can best be described as belonging to the "surviving in the middle of nowhere" category, which focuses more on the characters themselves than on elaborate special effects. While this is not one of the easiest types of film to produce, he pulls it off with remarkable precision: the cinematography is masterful and the posters absolutely stunning. Let's take a walk into the forbidden forest and see what is in store.

Black Mountain Side vs. The Hateful Height

Nick Szostakiwskyj (2016), Quentin Tarantino (2015)

Black Mountain Side poster © BMS, © Weinstein Cie.

Whether you're in an igloo or on a camel, isolation can quickly drive you mad. Even the calmest yoga teacher can quickly lose his mind when he's locked in a cabin with no beer and when it's minus forty outside. In this film, a group of archaeologists find themselves in just this situation after venturing off the beaten path on a mountain trek. Much like Tarantino's Hateful Eight, paranoia and hidden personality traits prove the downfall of the group. Poster - Technical aspects The snow is beautifully rendered, which is an achievement in itself, as this is not the easiest substance to reproduce in Photoshop. It calls for a skilled use of Hue/saturation, Linear Burn, Levels, Gaussian Blur, Noise, and Match Color. Alternativelys you can import a HD photo of some snow and change its Blend Mode to achieve the required contours. To increase the "dramatic" feel of the image, you can use a black layer with Gaussian Blur and Soft Light as Blend Mode. Final touches: Once the image is in place, add a liberal sprinkling of blood using Blend Mode and use the eraser to tidy up the edges. Poster - Artistical aspects Emphasis is placed on the feeling of solitude, using the image of a very small individual lost in the middle of an enormous storm. You can almost sense the cloud of paranoia sneaking up on the characters. This ability to conjure up emotions in the viewer is one fo the hallmarks of expert film poster creation. Both Quentin and Nick's designers love to communicate the psychological weight of the sin as it weighs on the characters' shoulders. Their heavy greatcoats, laden down with snow, render their weapons as good as useless. In these kind of films, its a good idea to grow eyes in the back of your head.

Nick, John, Tyler and Lokhaan History

Black Mountain Side movie poster © Lokhaan for BMS,© Tyler Stout for Mondo Graphics

John Carpenter is another director who has focused on the question of forced isolation. The Thing is probably his greatest work, combining monotone music, a 100% male cast, old-fashioned plastic special effects, and a chilling screenplay. The Thing also serves to confirm golden rule of film: behind every great film is a great poster. The Mondo Graphics style, created in the Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Austin, Texas in the 1990s, was born out of frustration with the overly-restrictive artistic specifications imposed on graphic designers by film producers. This style took off, and within a couple of years they had opened their own poster shop, quickly becoming a cult artistic destination. Influences from renowned artists such as Tyley Stout and Laurent Durieux added a new dimension of detail to the genre. The key steps in creating a Mondo-style poster are to first create a detailed sketch which is then minutely filled in using the Illustrator software package. The combination of skilled use of light and a retro-modern style create an immediate emotional connection with the beholder. The poster for the Blu-Ray version of Mountain Side was created by French artist Thibaut Menier AKA Lokhaan. The sense of desperation and the feeling of being totally stranded really come through thanks to the sharp lines and striking contrasts. As the artists discussed here prove, talent is a quality unrestrained by time or national borders, much to the advantage of inveterate cinema-goers.