Getting invited to design the creative materials for a festival is a huge honour at the best of times – but to be invited three times over was not only an incredible coup – it was also an incredible challenge as it meant reinventing the Celluloid Soup ‘look & feel’, three times over. Luckily, each time there was a creative theme for the film makers to respond to, which in turn provided the conceptual springboard that shaped my design solution.
Celluloid Soup – Melbourne’s Jewish short film festival – has been making mothers ‘plotz’ with ‘naches’ since the early 90s. My own first close encounter with the festival was as an entrant in 2002 when my music film clip, “Pythons & High Heel Shoes”, was a finalist.
In 2006 I was invited onto the festival’s organising committee, and subsequently went on to win the competition, twice running, with two music film clips, custom made for my Jewish comedy act, Schnorer.
The artwork for 2006 featured a festival trailer that I directed together with Ryan Spanger who also filmed and edited the spot.
At the same time that the trailer was being shot, we also shot the hero photography, care of the supreme talents of lensman, Nicola Milcic. To that end, we placed our very good-natured talent, Dov Werdiger, bang-smack on the side of the Hume Highway, in his orthodox garb, holding a hitch-hiker’s cardboard sign with the words, “Wandering Jew”, daubed across it. This was my comically literal interpretation of the festival’s “Wandering Jew” theme. The “Wandering Jew” of course is the moniker of a plant, named after the nomadic historic condition of the Jewish people. As you can imagine, it was quite an amusing afternoon as people driving by didn’t know quite what to make of it. The rest of the graphics for the festival were inspired by the nomenclature of Victorian’s highway signs.
By contrast, the 2008 artwork was assembled entirely from stock photography, all in the service of dramatising the, “It Takes Two”, film maker theme. This theme was chosen to highlight the importance of teamwork and collaboration when it comes to the film making process. I interepretred this with a nod to the relationship between the film director and director of photography, who together, for all intents and purposes, are ‘partners in crime’. I represented this dynamic duo as an anthropomorphic film camera and clacker-board. As the competition was for short film makers, I also placed them up against one of those police line-up walls which had them clocking in at about 4 feet tall respectively. Very short film makers by any measure. The rest of the graphic treatment related back to all things nefarious, from fingerprints, to handcuffs, to stolen bling. Which all made for a particularly arresting poster. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
For the 2010 iteration, Adam Krongold -another esteemed member of Melbourne’s creative cognoscenti – had already in his capacity as festival director, shot the inspired bowl of chicken soup with love-heart ‘knaidlach’ (matzah ball dumplings) with fashion photography luminary, Zac Stone. My contribution to that year’s artwork consisted of designing and laying out the key artwork, writing the puns, and recreating the Celluloid Soup logo with the iconic ‘niblett’ Jewish soup croutons. This was no digital recreation. I hand placed the nibletts, one by one with tweezers, before photographing it. I would put that right up there with my favourite design moments as it perfectly locked into the photography, and created a visceral point of relationship between the festival and every Jewish person who had grown up noshing on these little ‘yontef’ and ‘shabbes’ delicacies.