Pentagram designed the identity and motion graphics for the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards, the annual honors that recognize the best and brightest in independent film. Held the day before the Oscars and presented in an oceanside tent in Santa Monica, the Spirit Awards are as much a party as a ceremony. The 2016 festivities were emceed by the comedians Kate McKinnon and Kamail Nanjiani, and winning films included “Spotlight,” “Carol,” “Room” and “Beasts of No Nation.” The Spirit Awards are one of the many components that make up Film Independent, and the branding was incorporated into all of the graphics for the ceremony, from the show’s title sequence, animations introducing each category, and other on-air graphics, to the promotional campaign, website, program and tickets.
The Film Independent identity is a cohesive system that utilizes a distinctive custom typeface, which played a starring role in the motion graphics for the Spirit Awards ceremony and broadcast. The designers developed about 20 sequences that were used to introduce categories like Best Director, Best Female Lead, and Best Film, for example. The team wanted to subtly employ the use of surface qualities in film, like aging film stock, adding grain, dust or scratches, light leaks, and melting the celluloid stuck in a projector. They imagined the type as an object being filmed, playing with aspects of cinematography, motion and depth of field to create a kinetic and dimensional effect. The creative approach felt true to the spirit of the organization and independent film.
The sequences fly through a “cinematic universe,” evoking the tone and texture of film as they seem to exist in a space between two and three dimensions. Words zoom by, expand and explode, flip, swerve and swivel. In other sequences they jitter and stabilize, like a frame of film snapping into place.
Like the master Film Independent identity, the Spirit Awards graphics utilize stacked and shifting typography, with the words split (or cut, to use film editing terms), spliced and rearranged into multiple offbeat shapes, stacks and compositions, suggesting the way film is constantly in motion. This dynamic approach comes to life in the title sequences, where the various category names are taken apart and reassembled, each in their own unique way. The graphics were a logical extension of last year’s 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards, where the clean rearrangeable type treatment was first tested.
The color-coordinated palette of the Film Independent identity uses different colors for each of the organization’s sub-brands. Royal blue represents the Spirit Awards, and the color appears in the logo and all of the applications. The designers worked with Film Independent and Tenth Planet Productions to carry the branding throughout every aspect of the production. The small “i,” taken from the logotypes and brand typeface, was a recurring motif, appearing in patterns projected as a backdrop on stage.
As part of the Film Independent branding, the designers also worked on new messaging for the organization, which debuted at the event. Built around the statement “I Am Film Independent,” the messaging puts the focus on the individuals who contribute to the creativity of independent film. The concept was brought to life in a short film made in collaboration with the award-winning filmmaker Ryan Velasquez, a directing fellow of Film Independent’s Project Involve program, that was introduced at the Spirit Awards. The statement also appeared on totes that were given out to guests at the ceremony, inviting everyone to be part of the community.