In the book industry, you can tell if a publisher is really invested in making book a hit by a number of factors, but one of the most tell-tale signs is that it’ll spring to have Chip Kidd design the cover. In addition to his own novels and books, including co-producing the awesome , Kidd has designed covers for John Updike, Cormac McCarthy, Alex Ross, Charles Schulz, Bret Easton Ellis, Dean Koontz, David Sedaris, Frank Miller and Michael Crichton, just to name a few.
Now there’s a big difference between creating 75 book covers a year and making a handful of movie posters for a few amateur filmmakers. However, if you consider that in the fan film world, “graphic design” usually means “the two Photoshop tricks I know, slapped on to a fuzzy video still,” then comparatively, Jeff Hayes is the Chip Kidd of Fan Films.
A Police Captain by day, Hayes has a history of tackling graphic design duties for some of the most high-profile fan films around, including Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II; Star Trek: Hidden Frontier; Star Trek: Intrepid; and the Star Wars film Rogue. He’s designed logos, posters, an ongoing Phase II e-zine that regularly runs upwards of 60 pages, and more.
His most accomplished work to date, however, is the final release poster for the massive internet hit, The Hunt for Gollum. In fact, Hayes first learned of the now-legendary fan film prequel to J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings right here on Fan Cinema Today:
I have been regularly—daily in fact—reading your site since I read your book, Homemade Hollywood. I saw the piece you did on TH4G and…ultimately began to work with producer Brian Lavery and producer/director Chris Brouchard on the final, official release poster. Working with the TH4G folks was great, even though there was a five-hour time difference between London and Texas that took some getting used to.
I was very excited about this opportunity, as it was a chance to do something other than Star Trek. Although I have done a Star Wars fan-film poster for Rogue and several other posters for independent productions, I’ve never had the opportunity to do a poster like this.
Hayes’ excitement shows in the new poster, too. Trek graphics tend to run towards sleek lines and curves, all the while featuring lots of primary colors and, of course, metallic finishes. The Gollum piece, by contrast, features plenty of earth tones and an organic feel, and while it conveys the epic sweep of the film by using a number of different visual elements, it never collapses into mere collage. Instead, there’s a true unity to the poster, using characters as spokes to the center logo, all presented with a patina of Drew Struzan-like calm which recalls that artist’s work on the Indiana Jones series.
If you like what you see, take a look at Plasma Fire Graphics, Hayes’ website, for more examples of his work—it’s a lot of fun. Plenty of fledgling filmmakers have used fan films as a launch pad for professional careers; here’s hoping Hayes can do the same for the graphic side of fan productions.