Legendary title designer Dan Perri explains how he designed iconic movie titles for directors like Lucas, Malick and Scorsese.
If fifty directors all set out to make their own separate lists detailing the "unsung heroes" of film, there's one job so underappreciated (or just not thought of) that it would maybe make three of them. That job is title designer. You might think, "eh, I agree with these directors, that's not so important." But consider Dan Perri, a true master of the art of the title—a process that, for him, can take anywhere from two months to over a year to complete. In this evocative video from Academy Originals, Perri takes us inside that very process.
Let's think about just how important titles are. The main title essentially becomes the logo of the film, which is then used for marketing and merchandising purposes, that in turn can lead to billions of dollars in revenue even outside of the release of the film (as in the case of Star Wars). The job then becomes all encompassing, it includes levels of graphic design, marketing, merchandising, filmmaking and editing.
Not to mention, they're what start your damn movie and set the precedent for what the audience is about to experience. Titles should reflect and, if done right, inform the feeling of the film. As Perri explains, "Good title design should be evocative, it should evoke emotion from the viewer, it should refer to the story or the characters or the setting and almost incidentally introduce the title."
When you get to the point where you can refer to Terence Malick as "Terry," than you know you're doing something right. Take a look at stills from some of Perri's best work below: