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Les belles affiches > Interviews > Gerard Johnson & Gary Dalton

Gerard Johnson

By ✉ webmaster@lesbellesaffiches.com

Today we're facing Gerard Johnson, the acclaimed director of one the best thriller's of 2015: Hyena. Beyond the film stands a sensational, striking movie poster. Deeply creative, highly contrasted, the artwork is as the film: cold, raw, unpredictable. Why in a world dominated by marketing and compromise, Gerard succeed to make such a unique vision of a film? Well... let's ask the man directly.

Portrait of Gerard Johnson

Why so many differences between the English version and the French version of the Hyena's movie poster ? I talked to the French distributors Jokers/Wild Side and they felt that the UK design was a bit too vague for the French market. Naturally I think the UK poster is one of the best posters I've ever seen but they had their own ideas. I actually really like the designs they did, the real issue I have is with the UK DVD release but we'll get to that later... In France some directors are complaining about the distributors: too powerful and always choosing the worst poster ! Is it the same in England ? I have had many bad experiences with distributors over poster designs, they think they know your film better than you, they don't. You almost have to force them to use your posters or at least trick them into thinking it's their own idea. Nevertheless, how do you succeed to get one of the best poster of the year ? I became pro-active at an early stage and got in touch with my designer before the distributors or sales agents had a chance to hire someone inferior. Once they saw how incredible the poster was it became easier to convince. The UK distributor Metrodome then told me that when it came to DVD they had their own idea and I might not like it. Obviously I hated it and they put that awful cover out to the public ! It seems being nominated for best poster and getting into many poster design of the year polls is still not enough to end up with a pathetically weak DVD cover. It's incredibly frustrating but people will only remember the striking poster. Gerard Johnson's movie poster © Gary Dalton Gerard Johnson's movie poster Your poster is simple but powerful. I have the same feeling when I look at The Howling's poster by Joe Dante : a scratch in the face ! Could you tell us a little bit more about the designer? Gary has done the artwork on all my features and we will work together on my next one as well, We had lots of conversations about what I was looking for in the poster, I wanted a spotted Hyena in a West London metropolitan street, he really got the tone and atmosphere of what I was trying to do and came up with the amazing image, it's important to collaborate with like minded people and I like to build a core of people that I take from job to job, My composer, DOP, Sound designer and Poster designer from Hyena will all join me on the next one. What kind of poster do you like, most generally? For being simple, stand alone works of art. The Polish designs from the 70's and 80's are head and shoulders above anyone else. According to you, what are the biggest differences between France and England in a poster treatment? I couldn't really say to be honest. I think for instance Japan have a different take on things, I love the Japanese Hyena poster, it's my second favourite next to the UK one, but I think European designs are very similar. Have you ever seen a film only because of its poster? Nurse 3D. What is your favourite movie poster? Zulawski's Possession. Gerard Johnson's movie poster Most recently, which poster impressed you the most? I see lot's that I've been impressed by at festivals and then by the time of the release of the film they've been influenced to change to a sub standard version. I did like the poster to It Follows, again it was very simple and effective, like the movie. What is the last movie you saw in theatre? I'm busy at work on my new film so during this period I tend to only watch stuff that's directly related to what I'm doing, but I was invited to the premiere of Star Wars a couple of weeks ago. Who's your favourite director? Alan Clarke, Scorsese, Lumet, Kieslowski, Fassbinder, Cassavetes, Tarkovsky, the Dardenne brothers, Hal Roach, Polanski, Joseph Losey, depends what mood I'm in. The movie that you won't forget, ever? Angst !! (Gerald Kargl, 1983) What are your projects for 2016 and beyond? I'm just about to shoot my new movie which is about the life of Griselda Blanco, the infamous Cocaine Godmother. It's going to be a big 70's set incredibly violent full on thriller, a female Scarface if you will. After that I will shoot a very small black and white movie in Newcastle about a personal trainer. Thank you Gerard. Thanks.

Gary Dalton

Recent covers Tony and Hyena from director Gerard Johnson are masterpieces by designer Gary Dalton who has more than ten years experience in the film industry. Currently an Art Director at creative advertising agency Empire Design both based in London and New York. Outside of Empire he occasionally takes on unique projects. Working with director Gerard Johnson was one of those opportunities. Young english Art Director took on the challenge of creating Hyena's advertising campaign and succeed so well that he's been nominated for Best Poster of the year. He nicely reveals some secrets about his work.

Gary can you tell us a bit more about yourself? I've been a designer within the industry for over ten years. I am currently an art director at Empire Design based in London.

Hyena's poster is one of the best of 2015. What were the guidelines? To be a simple iconic stand alone poster.

Overall, what was your creation process on that specific project? Right from the start I was working with Gerard to create an iconic image. He was really keen to have a Hyena on the poster. I thought it would be really cool to have one stalking the streets much like a fox would. As its based predominantly at night on the streets of London, this would be perfect. I was Influenced by the original Omen poster but instead of a boy turning into a wolf it was a Hyena turning into a man.

What do you feel watching your design rolling all over the world? It's always very satisfying to see your work internationally, especially when it's an image close to the original idea. Gary Dalton's movie poster © Gary Dalton for Empire Design and Universal Pictures