Austin-Based Marc English Design Tightens the Slack
Does Packaging / DVD Menu Design for Slacker, Quintessential Ausitn Indie Film
Premiere DVD Film Publisher Criterion releases Richard Linklater's Slacker
[AUSTIN, TX - August 15, 2004]
One of Austin's leading design firms, Marc English Design, has put their own oblique strategies to work, as DVD publisher The Criterion Collection releases director Richard Linklater's Slacker, the film that put Linklater and Austin on the map of independent filmmaking. While Linklater may be best known for his recent successes Before Sunset (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy) and School of Rock (Jack Black), it was his 1991 cult fave that set an indie-film benchmark, and launched a new generation of filmmakers.
The Criterion Collection, the premiere developers of DVDs in the U.S. retained Marc English Design after discussions with Slacker's director, Richard Linklater. Says Linklater, "Having worked with Marc and the Austin Film Society for years and seeing all the great creative work he's done for AFS, I didn't hesitate and recommended his studio when Criterion asked if I knew someone capable of doing the graphics. I couldn't be happier with the design. What he has come up with is very original and totally in the sprit of the movie. The end product speaks for itself." "I was glad we could keep it local," adds Linklater, referring to the nationwide reputation Austin has for its film industry.
According to English, the opportunity to contribute to a film that is quintessentially Austin was very rewarding. "Linklater comes from a tradition of filmmaking that is about content, where every word, every camera angle contributes to telling a story, or in this case, creating a certain experience. This was an opportunity to add to the vocabulary of that experience."
And English is equally effusive about working with Criterion. "We've worked with all kinds of clients over the past 20 years, and I cannot recall the last time we had so much fun working on a project. Certainly much of it had to do with the fact that it was for a film that put Austin on the film map. Yet in equal parts it was also about working in an area new to us - DVD packaging and on-screen menus, and even more important, working with a client who 'gets it'."
"A client like Criterion is the rarity," he explains. "One cannot have vision without seeing, and seeing goes so far beyond looking, which is what most people - and their companies - do. Most look around and react to what others have done, as compared to truly seeing, comprehending, understanding, and in turn creating something of value. Which I believe The Criterion Collection is doing. In spades."
"It was interesting dealing with two external creative sources," English said. "First was Linklater and his film. It's his baby. To have him tell me ‘Well, you're the designer, I don't want to tell you what to do,' knowing he's worked with some great cinematographers, editors, and producers, that his scripts are meticulously worked out, his faith was the only sign we needed. Likewise, Criterion is known for working directly with directors and cinematographers to ensure the DVD releases match their original intent. Working with Criterion producer Susan Arosteguy and Design Manager Eric Skillman was a treat. They took one look at what we proposed and understood. Of course our 'individual' menu designs asked more of Criterion's production department, but they were up for the challenge, and took it in stride."
Producer Arosteguy said "Wow. Let me just say, they did an amazing job on the menus. I LOVE THEM. It takes a lot to get me excited after 10 years here, but Marc totally 'got it'. The best DVD packaging considers the entire concept of the production. Marc English Design was a perfect choice for this project because they understood that presenting the world of the film, and representing Austin, were essential. The care and consideration with which each and every element was designed, makes it very clear how much they understood the movie. And we love the design as much as we love the film. It's the kind of presentation that involves the viewer and fan of the film; there are many tidbits to discover and make connections to. Just perfect. Marc English Design rocks savage."
Using duct tape, cardboard, hand-written notes, flyers on telephone poles or outside nightclubs, the studio created screen menus that follow the elusive path of the film. The discs themselves are City of Austin manhole covers (much of the film takes place in pedestrian mode) and the 64-page book employs never-before seen photos and images from Linklater's archives, backed with new photography by English. "We believe in creating design that is experiential, more than just pretty information design. When Richard made his film, it was a labor of love. It was the same for our studio. Everyone had a hand in it, and like Richard's team, there were no slackers here - though it was a treat to wander the streets with a camera on a sunny day or two, and get paid for it."