The Film Independent Spirit Awards celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2020 with graphics that combined the glitz and shine of the awards with the grit and energy of independent film. For the sixth year running, Pentagram designed the show packaging and motion graphics for the ceremony, building on the branding it created for Film Independent, the non-profit organization that produces the awards.
Seen in a constant state of flux, the liquid metal typography offers a visual metaphor for film as a dynamic medium and Film Independent as a group that supports change. The Spirit Awards are typically more progressive and inclusive than the Academy Awards. The ceremony is held the day before and presented in an oceanside tent in Santa Monica, with a fun, free-wheeling atmosphere in contrast to the Oscars. This year, Best Feature at the Spirit Awards went to “The Farewell,” which starred Best Supporting Female, Zhao Shuzhen, and Josh and Benny Safdie took Best Director for “Uncut Gems,” which featured Best Male Lead, Adam Sandler. None of these films or actors were even nominated at the Oscars, showing how the Spirit Awards still go their own way. And unlike the Oscars, the Spirit Awards still have a host: The event was emceed by the actress, comedian and producer Aubrey Plaza, returning for her second year.
Every year, the Pentagram designers welcome the opportunity to reinvent the Film Independent identity in new and surprising ways, through type, color and movement, with past years’ approaches including type that projects, stretches, flies and swirls. An underlying goal over the years has been to elevate the look and feel of the Spirit Awards to bring them in line with other awards shows––but in a way that feels true to their indie, offbeat roots.
In addition to the logo hero animation, the team created more than 19 different bumpers for the ceremony, including introductions and nominee packages for categories like Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Documentary Feature, as well as a series of ambient loops for the stage, lower thirds, transitions and framing devices.
The 2020 graphics play with the materiality of the type, which has a liquid quality like mercury or neon that also feels solid and dimensional. The type has a jittery, quicksilver energy, with words form before zooming off to make way for something new. Speed lines inspired by anime zip across and around the letterforms to punctuate sequences. The typography plays with refraction, distortion, warping and cell animation layered throughout.
The metallic letterforms evoke the gleam and glow of awards shows, but avoid gold to instead use the Film Independent brand color palette reinterpreted in richer, jewel-like tones. The approach has depth like the previous year’s light-filled projections, but in a more material way, and feels more modern.