Film4 has launched an updated on-air brand identity with 16 new idents created by ManvsMachine. The films feature movie references throughout and were shot using a custom built in-camera device to create a moving film strip effect…
Idents were shot in five locations in the US and UK including Brighton’s Grand Hotel and a gas station in California. Three films were shot at each location and each has a different ending and tone: scenes at the gas station show children riding on bikes, a burning tyre rolling across the screen and a parked police car, while idents shot in the woods include one with wolves, another with scenes of children camping and a third with a mysterious, eerie light shining behind Film4’s logo.
“We wanted to avoid genres, such as horror or sci-fi, as they can feel a bit clichéd, and create a set of moods instead,” explains ManvsMachine creative director Mike Alderson.
“Locations are deliberately ambiguous and each film starts off ambiguously, before being taken in a different direction. There’s a sense of wonderment in the children riding bikes, while the tyre is a bit more aggressive, and the police car suggests something darker and more ominous,” he adds. “In the woods, the light provides a nod to Moonrise Kingdom, but avoids anything overtly ‘sci-fi’.”
To create the moving film strip effect featured in each ident, ManvsMachine built a custom in-camera device which ‘stacks’ live action scenes. Cameras had to be passed through the floor and ceiling of sets during filming and holes dug in the ground at exterior locations.
“It was trickier than it looks to do,” explains Alderson. “The camera has to start the same height above and below the space, so we had to build elevated sets and dig a huge hole in the woods [in California]. We even had an archaeologist with us making sure we didn’t dig up any Native American remains,” he adds.
Each ident is littered with references to films in various genres to reflect the channel’s diverse output and audience. Scenes shot in a pink corridor provide an obvious nod to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, as well as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, but also reference films including Poltergeist and Gravity. One ident, shot in a motel room, references 42 different films.
“We wanted to create something film buffs would enjoy watching, but we also wanted the idents to appeal to anyone – I hope even people who don’t spot the references will like them,” adds Alderson.
In keeping with the cinematic approach to idents, titles introducing films appear in red and black and are inspired by film posters and sequences from the 60s and 70s. An intelligent typographic system resizes titles depending on screen space, to ensure each film is given an equal billing.
“Our core mantra, throughout the whole project, was that it needed to be a film channel, not a TV channel. We felt it was really important to keep red and black as the only two colours, and that every title should be given the same prominence, whether it’s a high end production or something more lowbrow or low budget,” adds Alderson.
With the majority of effects created in camera and CGI kept to a minimum, Alderson says the idents are “a homage to the craft of filmmaking”. The studio has also released a making of video revealing some of the process behind the idents:
It’s a lovely set of films and the stacking device creates a distinctive visual signature, while the set design, typographic details and visual effects create a suitably rich, cinematic feel.
Concept, Design & Direction: ManvsMachine
Agency & Production Company: 4creative
Creative Director: Dan Chase
DoP: Alex Barber
Art Direction / Set Design: Simon Davies, Max Orgell
Post Production: Analog