The Miles Davis Movie: A Trio Of Awesome Unofficial Teaser Posters

I really don’t know what to write. Michael Stadtlender’s latest poster designs for the Miles Davis Biopic need no commentary from me. His trio of designs are just about perfect. I love all three. One has a very distinct Saul Bass style, which I love, but really I am enamored with all three.

Stadtlender’s latest set of unofficial poster teasers follows last week’s debut of four posters; what’s nice is the change of pace in design between the two sets. Just goes to show how a talented designer like Stadtlender can take the visual concept of a poster trumpeting the arrival of a biopic about Miles Davis in so many exciting directions. If I’m Don Cheadle I’m taking notes. Whoever ends up picking up the rights to the film (one day), they should consider a contest to let designers present a movie poster. Personally, the more creative involvement from fans the better to help promote the film.

We’re two, probably three years off from the film arriving in theaters, yet already we have an outstanding collection of Miles Davis Biopic posters, from some truly talented designers, that I would happily put in a frame and hang in my office.

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And Your Favorite Miles Davis Album Cover Is?

CLICK HERE to check out 69 Miles Davis album covers for your viewing pleasure. I might have missed an album here or there. And I did list two versions of the Miles Ahead album cover.

The Miles Davis Movie: A few (more) words about the movie poster

postcard If there’s one topic that gets me going it’s talking about what the movie poster for the Miles Davis biopic should look like. Back in June I threw out some ideas for the one-sheet, which remains one of the more popular topics around here.

It’s a terrific subject because we’re so inundated with movie marketing — be it billboards, magazines, newspapers, websites etc. A movie poster provides instant reaction, triggering certain emotions, even at the most fundamental level, that might pique our interest or reinforce indifference.

I, for one, am eager to see what the poster will look like down the road because it will for sure clue us in on the film’s theme, its scale and the direction of the marketing. If it’s a black poster with the words ‘Miles Davis’ positioned in the middle (with the basic info a the bottom) then we know the film is going for that mysterious, indie-flick vibe. I’ll add that I think that style would be a darn good teaser poster.

I always revert back to Saul Bass as a proper template, mainly because I love his work. Speaking of Mr. Bass, when you’re done here shoot over to saulbass.tv, which is loaded with posters, videos and all kinds of Saul Bass goodness.

A good movie poster is like…is like a portal into the film’s soul. Or something like that. Anyway, it’s always obvious when a movie poster ‘works.’ I’m this close to having a contest to design a version of the Miles Davis movie poster. Now I’m thinking collage style might be nice; just a variety of cool images thrown together, like tossing a box of photos on a table.

So… today I’m reading on First Showing about the four new individual posters for “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.”

While the Miles Davis movie is not positioned as an ensemble, I still thought it might be interesting (see: cool for me to own) to have a set of individual posters capturing ‘Miles Davis’ at different points of his career – each covered in the film, of course.

You can have young Miles, late 1950s/early 1960s Miles, fusion Miles and late ’80s Miles.

I want now!

miles-young 50smiles miles-seventies 80s-miles

The Miles Davis Movie: The Miles Style

I have already mentioned the importance of costume design in the new Miles Davis film because, let’s face it — Miles Davis had a knack for the fashionable.

A reader of the Blog directed me to their site, miles davis threads, which is dedicated to Miles Davis and his clothes. Now there’s a Blog I can get down with.

Well, the site is not updated all that often, but it does contain some awesome photographs and stories about how the writer came to owning some cool items from Miles’ wardrobe.

It’s a great story. Some of the clothing even made their way to an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to coincide with Davis’ induction.

It was during my perusal of the Blog where I spotted the famous photo of Miles’ in front of his walk-in closet taken by Anthony Barboza in 1971. Then there’s this quote:

In the Saturday Review, November 27, 1971 article by Chris Albertson, The Unmasking of Miles Davis, he notes that Miles “generally wears clothing that reflects future fashion trends—Gentleman’s Quarterly named him, ‘Best Dressed Man’ “. As they stand in his circular bedroom Miles “waved his hand towards a long row of flamboyant clothes and boots in dazzling colors. ‘I have these made for me.’ “

Cool. The man was just cool!

I’m more partial to the tailored suits than the glitzy attire, but the man could make a fashion statement no matter what.

I think the ‘style’ element of the Miles Davis film is going to play a part in the overall marketing of the project. You can count on the requisite articles, but what also gets media outlets like GQ and Vanity Fair all in a lather is the added bonus of the stylish (and wild) clothes.

When the movie shifts into the late ’60s and early ’70s you can bet we’re going to see some funky outfits. That’s part of the fun. Miles Davis was larger than life as a musician and personality, so it’s not surprising that he played (and dressed) the role to the hilt.

And while we’re on the subject of Miles’ appearance, let’s talk about the hair.

Even though it was an April Fool’s joke, back in 2004 All About Jazz posted a review for a book called – ready for this – Kinds of ‘do: The Story of Miles Davis’ Hair.

It’s a joke, yes, but the legendary trumpeter had some equally legendary hairstyles. The AAJ post even throws in some photographic evidence of Miles’ most prominent hairdos.

I’m looking forward to seeing Don Cheadle in the clean-cut manner of the early days to the fusion-era afro and on to the wild looks of the late ’70s and ’80s.

So to wrap it up: costume design is critical!

You know if Davis were alive today he’d want Don Cheadle, and the rest of the cast, to look as damn good as possible.

The Miles Davis Movie: Art is fun

I stumbled onto a design site called Wordle, where users can generate “word clouds” from text that you provide. It’s really simple and you can come up with some clever text designs.

I, of course, created a word cloud for the Miles Davis movie.

If you click the photo you’ll see the bigger version.

The Miles Davis Movie: What about costume design? or: let’s talk fashion!

Miles Davis was cool. Miles Davis is cool.

The music he created is always top of the list, but damn if he doesn’t also look stylish playing it.

The music, the fashion, the attitude… the guy personified the meaning of what being cool is about. While some might prefer his suit-style of the ’50s and ’60s and others the flashy wardrobe of the ’70s and ’80s, Miles Davis remained a fashion icon throughout.

For me, it’s Miles Davis in the three-button Brooks Brothers suit I enjoy best.

I read recently in GQ (profiling the 50 Most Stylish Men of the
Last 50 Years!) that for those suits he had a tailor create his special look; ‘jackets cut in one piece, with only two seams-under the sleeves and down the jacket sides – no chest pocket or padding in the shoulders, and notch lapels that rolled down to a single button.’

For the Miles Davis biopic I think it’s safe to say the costume design will be an important element to keep an eye on.

I always hear about actors who say that when they step into the wardrobe of their character (especially it’s a real person) it helps to tie-in the role their playing.

For all the nuance and behavior Don Cheadle has to channel for his portrayal of Miles Davis, he will also have to dress the part, as it were, to complete the ‘character.’

Fashion and film have always been good bedfellows, probably more so now than ever before, and any design element of a movie (set, lighting, costume, etc.) gets extra attention depending on the largesse of the production.

But it’s the clothes! The glamour! The style! The magazine covers!

The Miles Davis biopic should be well-stocked with fashionable people and stylish wardrobes – adding some pizazz sure to catch the gaze of fashionistas and cool-hunters.

Of course the clothes can only go so far; it’s up to Cheadle to bring the character to life, which I have no doubt he will.

But, the costume designers are most definitely part of the storytelling process and their creativity can have a real impact on a film.

This is not to say the wardrobe is going to overwhelm the project as is the case with numerous movies (I’m looking at you “Sex and the City”), but it will be a central component in presenting the full detail of the man and the diverse eras of which he lived.

The Miles Davis Movie: What will the movie logo look like?

Let me first say that this post/question is inspired from a post I read today on the always informative/entertaining movie website First Showing.

They have news (big news in some circles) abut the launch of the logo and website for the forthcoming Sony film “The Green Hornet,” set to be adapted by Mr. “Knocked Up” himself, Seth Rogen.

The film is not slated to even be released until 2010 and already the Sony buzz machine is starting to crank up. Thank goodness we don’t have to wait until 2010 for the Miles Davis biopic (I hope…), but hey, let’s talk logo!

I’ll save the website post for later. It’s going to be a big one!

So logos… The text or picture that is going to be seen everywhere there is room to market, brand, advertise, etc.

What’s it going to be? My first thought is the Miles Davis signature we see on a host of t-shirts, hats and assorted merchandise.

Then again maybe a photo of Miles is better. I’m partial to the ‘pose’ from the Jack Johnson LP cover, and even the silhouette version might be nice.

This stuff is important, people! The marketing behind this flick is going to be pivotal (isn’t it always!!), and it’s a topic I plan to delve into later on. I’m no marketing guru, but I, like just about all fans of arts and entertainment, know what we like/want/need.

I have already said for the one-sheet teaser to just have the words ‘Miles Davis’ written out in white on a black background, so I am all about building the buzz, creating that anticipation before anything substantial is revealed.

When that teaser trailer hits theatres I want my heart to skip a beat. I want to sit up and grin as wide as possible knowing the film is headed our way.

Right after that green band (or will it be red band?) graphic that tells me “The following preview has been approved for all audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America,” I want to see a black screen followed by the sound of a trumpet accompanying – an image? a logo? a photograph?

I don’t know, but I’ll be ready to drink up that first trailer in all its glory when it hits the ‘Net and the movie houses.

I’m excited just thinking about. It’s going to be the Birth of the Cool all over again. There’s going to be a lot of Miles Davis-y news and feature stories in magazines and newspapers and on the ‘Net when the run up to the premier gets started — and that’s all good as far as I am concerned.

All sorts of opinions and analysis will hit the media grid and Miles Davis will front row on the pop culture rollercoaster; old records discussed, notorious moments from the past resurrected for debate, former friends and colleagues trotted out to speak about the man, critics discussing his status in the jazz pantheon, the expected surge in digital music sales, the customary razzle-dazzle articles on the front pages of the Sunday arts and entertainments section in newspapers everywhere and so on and so forth.

There Will Be Buzz.

How big remains to be seen, but I think people will be hearing a lot (more) of Miles Davis next year.

I admit to jumping the gun with all this, but the fact remains that there’s a Miles Davis movie in the works (finally!) and that’s cause for rejoicing.

The Miles Davis Movie: What should the movie title be?

I’ve read on the ‘net that the film is tentatively titled “Miles Davis.”

For me, that’s fine. Even “Miles” is just as commanding. Yes, it recalls “Ray,” but that worked out just fine.

And then there’s “Bird,” also a great movie title that says it all.

Jazz-related films like “The Glenn Miller Story” and “Young Man with a Horn” seem pretty par for the course, and “Round Midnight” is cool for just about anything – so that clearly worked for a film about jazz.

“Mo Better Blues” has a jazz-cat feel, very inside baseball, but I love it.

Much has been written about the importance of a film’s title.

“The Shawshank Redemption” is one of my favorite films, but my goodness that title did not help to sell the movie when it first debuted. I agree that moviegoers should be willing to look past a mediocre title when inquiring about a film, but the movie business is about marketing, primarily to as many people as possible.

Hey, a movie might be awful, but the title is great, so it’s a fine line.

Using song titles is a popular tradition in Hollywood, and for sure there are some Miles Davis tunes that might work as the title of the biopic.

Perhaps the very best way to promote the film is simply to call it “Miles Davis.” The name alone elicits a wide assortment of opinions and feelings.

That said:

What should be the title of the Miles Davis movie?

I already mentioned in the post about the movie poster that I think the words Miles Davis in white, centered on a black background would be striking. I’d like to have that! But perhaps I’m missing something. Maybe I’m not seeing the big picture in terms of what title might best represent the film.

The Movie Marketing Update and Movie Market Madness are good sources for all things ‘movie marketing,’ maybe they’d like to weigh in.

With any Hollywood or indie movie, promotion is vital, and I’ll be quite interested to see what the team behind the Miles Davis biopic comes up with in their marketing strategy for the film – starting with the title.

The Miles Davis Movie: What should the movie poster look like?

I know I’m jumping the gun, but it’s still fun to think about what the movie posters might look like for the Miles Davis biopic.

In most cases a teaser one-sheet will circulate to start the hype machine, which is then followed by a variety of movie poster styles that provides more meaning to the story, characters, etc…

An early one-sheet I’ve thought about for the biopic is a black poster with the words “Miles Davis” in white lettering positioned in the middle. When I close my eyes I just think it looks cool. Yes, at times, I’m a minimalist.

Even a picture of a trumpet (illustrated, perhaps) over a single-colored background might be nice.

I guess the popular movie poster for “Ray” somewhat takes this simple, yet effective style.

For me, Saul Bass was a genius of design, and his motion picture title sequences and movie poster artwork is simply brilliant, providing some of Hollywood’s most unforgettable cinematic images.

I’m a big (big) fan of Bass’ work, and his style would definitely serve the Miles Davis film right. Two of my favorite Bass designs are for the films “Anatomy of A Murder” and “Love in the Afternoon.”

I doubt the marketing team will opt for the style Spike Lee chose for his jazz-themed film, “Mo Better Blues” (a film I love, and a movie poster I have framed, which has been with me since college). I still submit that “Mo Better Blues” is one of Spike Lee’s better films, and the music is great.

Without knowing a darn thing, I just have a feeling the Miles Davis one-sheet will have a more serious ‘feel.’

In keeping with the theme of jazz-related movies and their posters, I can’t say I love the one-sheet for “Round Midnight.”

But I do like “Bird.” It’s not perfect, but almost. Actually, that bird in the upper left (is that a dove?) is driving me crazy. I’d lose it. Still, it’s a nice poster.

And then there’s “Kansas City.” I love Altman, but this is not one of my favorites. The music is really good, however. Jennifer Jason Leigh looks so funny (to me) in the poster. I know she’s supposed to be tough, but it looks awkward.

Now that I’m looking at the “Bird” one-sheet, I’m thinking one version of a movie poster for the Davis project could be to incorporate the classic Miles pose seen on the cover of The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions.

That wouldn’t be too shabby. I wonder if Don Cheadle has been working on that pose?

So, for my original question – What should the movie poster look like? – I’d be interested to hear what, not only a Miles Davis fan has to say, but also from people in movie marketing, ad folks, people who read BrandWeek, design enthusiasts and so on.

I bet we could come up with a great collection of ideas for a Miles Davis movie poster. All I know is, I can’t wait to get my hands on one….