24 January 2022

Meet the artist reimagining everyone’s favourite film posters

It's a tricky proposition reimagining beloved film posters — especially when it comes to cult classics like Taxi Driver, Reservoir Dogs and the Bond franchise. Artist, Matt Needle, is an exception to the rule.

Needle’s visionary recreations are a delight to cinephiles who relish the opportunity to see their favourites in a new way. It’s no easy task; for example, the last thing any fan wants is having the themes that Martin Scorsese explores in Taxi Driver, or its style, stripped away. And neither does this artist. The result is beautiful pieces of art from key touchstones of cinema.

HUNGER sat down with Needle to discuss the genesis of some of his posters, his selection process, and his inspirations.

Nessa: You create these amazing posters. How do you go around choosing the films to feature?

Matt: When it’s a self-initiated poster its almost always a film I love. However, I run a few projects each year, such as, ‘For Your Consideration’, which is where I produce posters for all the ‘Best Film’ nominees at the Oscars. Then there’s ‘NOIRVEMBER’, where I create four film noir inspired prints every November. Doing that, I get to experience films that I’m not as familiar with, which gives me a chance to experiment with different subject matter.

Nessa: Can you walk me though the genesis of one of your particular posters? Was it a film that meant a lot to you…

Matt: Focusing on my Bond series as a whole, that’s a project I’d been thinking about for years, but I never had the time to work on something so expansive. When the pandemic first hit and we went into lockdown, I found a lot of my projects were put on hold, so I finally had the time to jump into it. The Bond movies are something I’ve loved since I was a child, and I felt it was the perfect project to experiment with different stylistic approaches and new techniques. It turned out to be one my most popular projects and one my favourite collections of work I’ve created thus far.

Nessa: What speaks to you when you look at a film that you want to turn into a poster? Is it the shots, locales, scenes, aesthetics — or something else? 

Matt: It’s probably a combination of the creative choices you’ve listed above as well as the story. I try to focus on key themes and ideas, then tie that in with something that evokes the visual cues from the film itself. I’m absolutely drawn to certain directors works for their visual style, Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson, to name a few.

Nessa: Is there a film that you’ve tried to make into a poster that just hasn’t worked for some reason? And why do you think that was?

Matt: To be honest, there have probably been loads over the years. For every final poster you see, there’s multiple that have never seen the light of day. I’ve been playing with ideas for The Godfather for a couple of years now, but it’s never worked out how I want, but I’m going to take another shot at it for the 50th anniversary of the film this year. I think it’s a combination of a few things. Nowadays, there are a lot of people putting out fan art / alt posters, so a lot of the ideas look too similar, and it’s hard to find a different original approach if 500 different artists have interpreted such an iconic film in poster format already.

Nessa: Who are your artist inspirations?

Matt: My earliest artistic inspirations were pop artists such as Peter Blake, Warhol, Idelle Weber, Robert Rauschenberg. I equally love Dadaism and Bauhaus design. Of course, film poster designers such as Saul Bass, Bill Gold, Hans Hillmann, Bob Peak, Drew Struzan… I’m also really inspired by the Polish and Cuban film poster scene.

Nessa: This won’t be easy, but favourite film poster?

Matt: Tough question, but I love Vertigo by Saul Bass, the King Kong poster by John Berkley, and Bill Gold’s iconic A Clockwork Orange poster.

Nessa: And your favourite pieces of art? 

Matt: Another tough one to pick, but I love The Kiss (Bela Lugosi) by Andy Warhol, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, and Scanning by Robert Rauschenberg.

Nessa: I have to ask this, so my apologies, but top three films?

Matt: Probably an ever-changing list, to be honest: The Shining, North By Northwest or Vertigo, and Pulp Fiction. 

Nessa: Finally, and this might be a bit easier — what’s the best film you’ve seen recently, anything of note?

A film that I watched a little while ago but has really stayed with me is David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. I watched that maybe 8 months ago and I still think about it frequently. Otherwise, a few films that I loved from 2021 were The Father, I Care A Lot, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Dinner in America, Censor and The French Dispatch.

You can follow Matt Needle on Instagram and Twitter. Visit his website, here.

  • Writer Nessa Humayun
  • Images Matt Needle

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