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Interview with Gregory Sacre: I Do Mixed Media, I Mix Different Techniques and Approaches

Interview with Gregory Sacre
Gregory Sacre talks about his trip towards making movie posters, his procedure, the movies that he likes and his favorite posters

has been an artist and graphic designer since 2013. Making alternative movie posters was a game at first, and then became a whole part of his professional life. Fully equipped with his latest and most powerful digital tools (yay Photoshop!), he always has the same process in mind : creating contents with the idea of a physical outcome or print. But there is more behind this choice: He is in a constant search for presenting contents that are meaningful, that create emotions. The “physical” dimension of the process in a pretext to illustrate his love and will to communicate about personal elements, to work on details. His latest collaborations include the covers of releases of Third Window, Spectrum and Eureka.

Gregory Sacre talks about his trip towards making movie posters, his procedure, the movies that he likes and his favorite posters, his collaboration with Third Window, Spectrum and Eureka and other topics

How did your interest with Asian cinema begin and how did you start working on film posters and covers?

I grew up with anime and Sentai which arrived in France in the 80s. And then in the early 2000s, with the massive launch of DVDs, I started wanting to discover more things. 's cinema, Ring, the Godzilla series… I threw myself into all the releases coming from Asia. When I started making alternative posters in 2013 (a friend of mine challenged me to make my own “2001: A Space Odyssey” poster), I quickly wanted to also make Asian film posters. From the start, I set a routine for myself. I made one poster per week. Subsequently I wanted to take my time and develop other graphic approaches.

To tell you the truth, during the same period, I was making my own covers for Tokusatsu series that we couldn't get in France…

What is your procedure, when you start drawing?

In fact, I very rarely draw… I do mixed media, I mix different techniques and approaches. I refer at what I do more like collage. When I watch a movie, I always have a sketchbook with me where I draw doodles of what the film reflects to me. It's really the film that guides me on the approach to adopt. Each poster is different in its approach… But no matter whether it is for a cover for a client or a poster that I make for myself, I want to remain as free as possible in my approach. And I am delighted with the relationships I have with the different publishers with whom I work, which allow me to keep this freedom.

Have you ever had to do artwork for a film you do not like? Or draw something about a film you like but you end up not liking the work?

Yes for both. When I work on an alternative poster, it's always about films that I love. On the other hand, when it's an editor asking me to work on a cover: I have no choice. So, when I don't like the film in question I add constraints to myself: what should I highlight for people who like the film. And for those who don't know: how I should do it to make them want it… All the while keeping my style and having fun. I would say that the hardest part is ultimately not necessarily making a cover for a film that I didn't like… But it's when the film doesn't have a great iconography. And that also applies to films that I like. Some films are so rich that sometimes, after 5 minutes, I already have ideas for several covers… Some on the other hand, after 2 hours, I still don't know where to start… That's where it gets complicated! In this case, I will delve into the graphic trends of the time, what graphically can help me transcribe the atmosphere of a film when I don't like the film itself, or when it has low iconography. It can become quite a headache… But overall it always ends well ;)

For the second question, I have a specific example in mind which is my alternative poster of “”. I loved the film, I had a clear idea of what I wanted, I spent a lot of time on the composition, I even went as far as working on the thumbnails that are used on my social networks… And just before putting it online… I deleted everything, I didn't like the poster anymore… but really… NO MORE AT ALL! I remember I had a few cover requests at the same time, so I worked on something else and came back to it a little later, and changed everything.

In general, as a movie fan, what kind of movies do you like?

I have a very broad cinema culture. When I was younger, I was only obsessed with fantasy films. Horror films, action films… In short, genre cinema. But when I started making videos, I expanded my culture more and more to all kinds of genders and nationalities.

How did your cooperation with Third Window, Spectrum, and Eureka begin?

It's a bit of a fairy tale ;) It all started in 2015. I made an alternative poster of the excellent by Sono Sion. Time goes by and as I am a big consumer of DVDs and especially Blu-rays, I follow the news from different publishers. But at no time do I tell myself that one day I will end up doing covers… Anyway, one day I noticed that the publisher Third Window Films was going to publish a large number of Kitano with cover designs by Marie Bergeron. I'm already discovering the work of this illustrator that I didn't know and that I find wonderful, and what's more, I'm saying to myself: But why don't I send one of my posters to Third Window? As it is the English publisher of “Love Exposure” (and the film had not yet been released in France), I sent my alternative poster to the publisher via Facebook. And I have very quickly a response from Adam who runs Third Window, telling me that he loves the poster and that he would like to share it. But it stops there…

Then one day in August 2018, I received an email from Adam telling me that he had thought of me to do the cover of Dangan Runner. I remember going absolutely crazy. I was asked to do an official cover, and what's more, I was going to get paid. After a few exchanges of emails, it couldn't come to fruition because there was a collaboration with Germany and suddenly it couldn't be done anymore… but Adam told me: there will surely be other opportunities . And he didn't lie! It seems to me that it was the end of 2019, he asked me to work on a future box set for … Firstly, I was asked to do my first cover, and secondly it will be for a director that I adore. I first proposed an initial design which didn't really go down well… Then Adam gave me one of his influences and said to me: and if you have anything else to propose, feel free to do so. So I made 3 other designs and it finally got the community to vote. Very cool thing is that two of the three designs were used for the edition. This is the story of my first collaboration with Third Window, with whom I still work. I actually met Adam during one of my trips to Japan in 2022.

For it's almost the same story except that it's Antoine who runs Spectrum Films who calls me and leaves me a voicemail. Above he tells me that he tried several times to contact me on Facebook because he liked my work and would like to collaborate with me. I jumped with joy and called him back… I even remember being surprised because I didn't know the publisher (…) But a quick trip through my video library reassured me: I had several of his editions. I called him back and he asked me to do the cover of Full Alert by Ringo Lam. I remember making lots of changes on this cover because I lacked self-confidence. Now I no longer hesitate to propose quite radical things and ultimately it turns out better that way ;) Antoine quickly contacted me to urgently do two covers for Devil Hunters and The Dragon Fighter. And it's these two who came out first!

For , it was Jacob who contacted me to tell me that he had seen my cover of Full Alert at Chez Spectrum and that he really liked it. It was a pretty crazy request because he said to me: We're going to publish it in England, would you be interested in doing another design? And we're also going to release and Wild Search if you're interested: I said yes straight away for all 3! It was quite complex to do a second cover for Full Alert… But as I had also evolved graphically, I had a lot of fun doing something else! And ss with Third Window or Spectrum, I continue to work and have excellent relationships of trust. It's one of the aspects of my work that is very enjoyable and I thank them again very much!

Can you give us some details about how came up with the artwork of “”, “” and “The Swordsman of all Swordsmen”?

For “Typhoon Club”, Adam from Third Window approached me with the idea of creating a collection for the Directors Company. I had to think not about a particular film but about a concept that could be applied and sort of replicated. “Typhoon Club” was my first cover for this series. Loving Japanese culture, I suggested to Adam that I would love to make an obi on all the designs, and where certain elements would be readapted each time to go with the film. So, in addition to having a color code per film, there is always a different pattern for the obi and an element that will fit with the title in Japanese. The rest of the cover must remain empty of any information or titles, a bit like certain Japanese vinyl records. I know some people have commented that Radiance does this too. The goal is not to copy (especially since the Obi has nothing to do with it and is an integral part of the visual), and I personally started making posters with obi since 2019 with a poster from the very first series of Sentai: Goranger. In any case, it's a great pleasure to continue working on the Director's Company titles and to adapt this concept to the film.

For “Heroic Trio” it's quite complicated. It wasn't the easiest visual I've worked on. The publisher Carlotta films contacted me to do the Heroic Trio / Executioners duo. Before any work, they wanted to know what I had in mind. I explained to them that I wanted to first work on the individual covers of each film and then on the one that would bring the two together. I had never seen Heroic Trio before. After seeing the film, I explained to them what I wanted to do, (the color bands which represent the three heroines, the bad Guy who overlooks them, etc). They told me OK. Except this visual did not fit their expectations, even despite our first conversations. It was reminiscent of a Megadrive game cover. The film reminded me so much of the structure of an old-fashioned video game that it became my goal to achieve, and I was very happy with the result.

The poster also highlighted the HK side and not necessarily the translated titles and names. So I went through a whole series of stages where my basic concept, very dark, became something ultra colorful and where the translations had to be highlighted. So when I made “Executioners”, I stayed on this same basis, a bit like making a mirror poster. And for the visual which will in fact be the visual of the steelbook, I had to go back to something dark… and without any text indications, as these titles were part of a steelbook collection and they were already charted, it was quite limited. So I got to the point: The heroines, and nothing but the heroines. By using their packaging so that, when we remove the packaging, we discover a second part of the design.

For “The Swordsman of all Swordsmen”, the concept came to me quickly. I like to tell something visually. There, I wanted to show that beneath this final duel, there is his quest for revenge. All in a very retro style. The more the years go by, the more I am influenced by old Japanese posters. We had the impression that graphically they would stop at nothing: anything goes! And this richness allows us to tell stories through the poster.

Can you also let us know of some your own favorite works?

Among my alternative posters, I am very happy with the rendering of my second Ghost dog poster, which I made with an obi. It's one of my favorite films and I loved putting a lot of little details into it. I also really like what I managed to do with the “You Only Live Twice” poster, where I also had a lot of fun, the same for the Ring poster. For the latter, this idea of Sadako coming out of a VHS, I had had it for several years and at one point last year I said to myself: don't waste time and make the poster, otherwise someone will make this idea. We can never be sure that an idea or a concept will be realized before…

As for the Covers, I think my top 3 would be PTU, and the Directors Company series. I'm also very happy with the “Shin Godzilla” box set which was validated by Toho… Which is definitely heartwarming when your nickname is Gokaiju :D

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Yes ! I've never done so many covers! I can't reveal the titles unfortunately… But let's say that over the last few months I've worked a lot for 4 publishers and there are many titles to be announced. Looking forward to sharing the designs ;)

About the author

Panos Kotzathanasis

Panagiotis (Panos) Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer, specialized in Asian Cinema. He is the owner and administrator of Asian Movie Pulse, one of the biggest portals dealing with Asian cinema. He is a frequent writer in Hancinema, Taste of Cinema, and his texts can be found in a number of other publications including SIRP in Estonia, in Slovakia, Asian Dialogue in the UK, Cinefil in Japan and Filmbuff in India.

Since 2019, he cooperates with Thessaloniki Cinematheque in Greece, curating various tributes to Asian cinema. He has participated, with video recordings and text, on a number of Asian movie releases, for Spectrum, Dekanalog and Error 4444. He has taken part as an expert on the Erasmus+ program, “Asian Cinema Education”, on the Asian Cinema Education International Journalism and Film Criticism Course.

Apart from a member of FIPRESCI and the Greek Cinema Critics Association, he is also a member of NETPAC, the Hellenic Film Academy and the Online Film Critics Association.

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