WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR

For my first assignment I chose, Movie Posters That Matter from the visual assignment category. The instruction for this assignment was to: “modify a movie poster with a title and slug for an issue that means something to you or provides a launch point for discussion on a social issue.”

There were many excellent 80’s movie’s posters to choose from: Back to the future, E.T., Bladerunner. But once I laid eyes on Footloose, I knew it was what I had been searching for aesthetically. It had a singular focus. It was simple and iconic. Everything visually extraneous had been stripped away save for the protagonist of the story- Ren, the big-city kid/small hero who puts up the good fight against a small town. And I couldn’t help but see the bigger picture- a fight for something. Only instead of Kevin Bacon fighting against the rigid morality of the town council for the right to dance, he’d be fighting against the widespread fatality of a much larger issue: AIDS.

AIDS was not only one of the deadliest diseases of the 80’s, it continued to be one of the deadliest diseases well into the 90’s and beyond. It wasn’t even until the mid-90’s that AIDS-related deaths had a significant decline, and if we looked at data from the early 2000’s, we’d see that HIV/AIDS was still in the top five leading causes of death for adults aged 25-44. (Based on data from The Body Pro).

We may know a lot more about AIDS today than we did in the 80’s. We now have better treatments for it, better prevention, and better technology to fight it, but it still kills. There is no cure for AIDS. Yet the only reason that we have made such strides in treating AIDS is because of how hard the gay community fought for medical treatment, research, and the right to live. Protests were held and organizations were formed. People were angry and tired- tired of being ignored. The gay community, in all their rage and exhaustion, took to the streets. They held up signs and laid down in the road to make themselves seen. And thankfully people took notice of the narrative, the one that said, “We are dying. See us. Do something.”


I believe that this issue still needs to be talked about, so I took to Photoshop to modify my chosen poster, Footloose. The first step after setting up my image was to figure out what typeface was used in the original movie poster. I first tried to use the ‘match font’ option in PS, but this tool is always hit or miss. Not finding a good match, I Googled “popular fonts used in the 80’s.” I tested out each one in the list until I found a close match. I decided on the font ITC Avant Garde Gothic Pro, because it appeared to be similar to the parts of the poster that are in white text.

I then had to come up with some appropriate tag lines for my modified poster. Once I figured out what I wanted to say, I placed my text over top of the old text. I adjusted my font size and kerning to match, then added a small outer glow to the text. I then converted it into a smart object and added a little noise to it. (It’s on an old poster after all). On the poster layer I used the stamp tool and the spot healing tool to “erase” the original text.

Now here comes the hard part: the Footloose font. My Google search yielded the general consensus that it is simply a script and not a font that I can replicate exactly. I could have used a script font that was “close enough,” but as I was unsatisfied with my script font options, I decided to just re-create the script as best as I could. There are a couple of ways to do this. One can either hand ink the script and scan it in, or one can use the brush tool or pen tool to digitally re-create it. I chose to use the brush tool. After carefully going over the ‘F’ (on a separate layer), I drew the other letters that I needed while keeping in mind how the script font should flow together. I then added two drop shadows to this layer- one in red, and one in a faint white at a different angle from the red shadow. (Hint: Convert the text into a smart object to add a second drop shadow. Otherwise, the second shadow will cancel out the first shadow). Finally, I added noise and dust & scratches to the script ‘Fight Against.’

I decided that I wanted ‘A.I.D.S.’ as a sub-headline, and I wanted it to be more faded to visually represent the fatal connotation of this word. In order to achieve this, I set the opacity of the text to about half, and then I added noise. I finished off my poster by changing the title in the bottom credits (don’t forget that part) and doing some spot healing on the poster itself. (Hint: don’t over-do this step. The poster is old and should retain some of its spots). These are, however, general steps that I took to modify the poster. One should always play around with the effects and filters to get the right look.

I’m satisfied with the overall modification. I don’t think the script font is perfect- it’s still a bit too raised and new looking. I’m pretty impressed with how close I got with the white text, however. I enjoyed this assignment as it tested my design modification abilities, and I hope that I’ve given some helpful tips for anyone who wants to try out this assignment.

Original Footloose poster:

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