Inherent Vice

The release of the 2014 film adaptation of the detective novel “Inherent Vice” was met with enthusiasm by fans of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson and legendary author Thomas Pynchon. The artwork created by veteran poster artist Steven Chorney supplied psychedelic imagery with a comedic flair, a perfect match for the film atmosphere. Here you can read my lost interview with him.

You have been working for the cinema industry for many years. How did you get involved in the “Inherent Vice” project and what do you remember about the first briefing?
It was a process, a long process. It all began with explorative ideas from the studios, then the agency art directors and then the sketches from the art department at BLT Communications began trickling out. As they were presented and as more information was received, things gradually came more into focus. I was happy to be asked to have a hand in the development stages along with the other artists at BLT.

Poster art for films has changed in the last few years. Can you explain us how it was like before the communication agencies got so much involved in the creative process?
As a rule, a movie poster begins life much as it has in the past… ideas are generated by an art director or a team of art directors, sometimes referred to as a ‘brief’. It is the seed, usually there are many. These ideas are developed or brought to life in the art department. Very talented sketch artists explore various ways to treat the concepts for presentation and approval by the studios. In days of yore, a dozen or more concept drawings might have been presented to narrow down and focus on the direction. Now it may be that many hundreds of concept sketches and variations are developed for approvals. Many artists both traditional and digital are kept busy at this initial stage.

What about your collaboration with BLT Communications?
I have been working as independent contractor or freelance artist with BLT. Many projects will require the assistance of several creatives during the process, from start to finish. This was true especially with “Inherent Vice”. All told there were many images required to create the character posters, billboard, Internet images and other film ‘tie-in’ promotions. The workload was immense. Many hands make the load lighter. In recent times this procedure has proved very effective for most agencies since the use of computer generated imagery has taken center stage, and certainly it has allowed for a wider scope of treatments to be explored.

From your experience, is it usual to meet the director when working on a film poster? Or maybe your work is always based on still photos?
It is rare to meet with the filmmakers on any given project, at least for the artists. That has always been the case. We are set into motion with a briefing and film images as reference IF available. It is not unusual that a project begins before the film is completed.

What was your reaction when you saw the final posters and the animated billboard on the Sunset Strip?
It is always nice to see artwork used in advertising campaigns and seeing a billboard one has had a hand in is always a treat. Especially when it is on the busy Sunset Strip in Hollywood… it’s just one of those things.

What did you enjoy the most about this project?
Working with the talented folks at BLT Communications was the high point. It is loads of fun to work in such a creative environment, each contributing their strengths and skills to the project, that is special.