Cineastas Filipinos

Art Direction, Case Study, Editorial Design

The major challenge to do this coffee table book was how to present the strong collection of portraits of filmmakers in a way where we give some personality to the package without ‘overwhelming’ the reader or getting in the way of the images. We fell in love with the work of Oscar Fernandez Orengo and knew from the start that it should be his photographs that speak for themselves, and design as just the container to portrait his work.

We decided to use the landscape format as it suited better Orengo’s images. Main concern here was that in most of the photos, the subject appeared dead center and would fall into the gutter of the book—an effect we wanted to avoid at all cost. The solution was to go for an uneven layout where the images fall either on the left or the right side of the spread, thus avoiding the ‘gutter’ effect. Determining the pace of the images depended first on where the subject matter was situated in the picture, then on the images themselves, making sure we played with the right pace between them (close-up vs. full-length, indoor vs. outdoor, color-coding, etc.).

Another major design decision we had to wrestle with was how to handle the rest of the book—the articles section and the captioning in three languages.

First step was to create as the main distinctive element of the book a ‘screen printing’ effect in the headlines and main typographical elements, getting inspiration from the work of Alan Kitching. This decision came after looking at the way Orengo took his photographs, reminding us a bit of ‘lomo’ philosophy attached to film instead of digital, and placing that craftsmanship feel as its identity. Manual vs. technology: this, we thought, should be reflected in the way we handle type. Screen-printing is to computer-generated type what film is these days to digital. Plus it gave a bold, strong and appealing character to the book.

Lastly, handling three languages in one book was never easy. We color-coded them in the most subtle way possible, and numbered both images and captions for the reader’s easy reference and trouble-less navigation. The rest of typographical decisions followed the same philosophy explained before: body text was a typewriter type as it evoked that ‘hand-made, retro feeling’ of shooting in film. Caption numbers were stenciled for the same reason.

The book was presented in an event at the Instituto Cervantes, and it sold out very fast. Filipino filmmakers now have it as one of the major references in the field in the Philippines.