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Q&A — If They Came From Within Poster Artist Eric Robillard

As we noted last week, a very special art show is set to premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival this year. Rue Morgue Magazine editor-in-chief and occasional Canuxploitation contributor (and personal friend) Dave Alexander has developed “If They Came From Within: An Alternative History of Canadian Horror Movies,” a unique travelling exhibit that pairs well-known Canadian directors with artists to create concepts and artwork for Canadian horror films that weren’t made but should have been. As one of the sponsors of the program, we here at Canuxplotiation were immediately taken with the sheer creativity of the posters that will mark the show’s opening at Montreal’s Cinémathèque Québécoise on July 20, 2012 at 5:00PM, and its thrilling to see the filmmakers and directors further mythologizing the Canadian horror genre by imagining the kinds of films that Canadians could of made if they were allowed to. It’s a great conversation starter and a tribute to the way homegrown horror is continuing to break out on the international stage.

Amongst the talented individuals participating in the project is Eric Robillard, a movie buff and graphic designer who has been involved directly in the movie industry for the past 15 years, creating close to 100 movie posters, DVD sleeves and newspaper ads for films. Eric started in the business in 1996 and worked at Alliance and Remstar before starting Kinos in 2003,  the only independent design studio specializing in the film industry in Quebec. In addition to working with clients like eOne, Seville Pictures, Anchor Bay, Remstar Films and TVA Film, Eric notes that Kinos has begun to work with some American studios on DVD art and hopes to eventually work on posters for the U.S. market. Eric created three posters for the project–THE MUMMY SPEAKS, LA MORT DU CANADA, and RED, WHITE & BLUE SUNSHINE (which has yet to be revealed).

Why did you get involved in this project?

I agreed to participate in Dave’s IF IT CAME FROM WITHIN poster art project because it’s a great way to showcase the talents of Canadian designers. As you know, movie poster design is mostly an anonymous art–some people  have a movie poster on the wall of their house, home theatre or office, but even then they may never know who actually created it. For me, working on IF IT CAME FROM WITHIN was a great opportunity to get out of the shadows a little bit.

What is the difference between creating a poster for an actual film and an “imaginary” film?

Doing a poster for an imaginary films is SO much easier because there’s no clients (laughs)!  I had complete control when I was putting together the three posters I did, it was purely my vision of the film–not the producer or the marketing team. It was a bit tricky to find all the images I needed to compose the posters, but these days with image banks you can find almost anything you need to get the job done. If I could, I would only work on creating art for imaginary films–too bad there’s not much money to be made without real clients!

You did three posters for the project, all of very different styles and from different eras. How difficult was it to design for very different time periods?

It was a challenge. LA MORT DU CANADA, which is actually supposed to be from the future, was the easiest because it’s closer to what I usually do, but the THE MUMMY SPEAKS, which was from the 1940s, and RED, WHITE & BLUE SUNSHINE, which was done in a 1980s style, were more difficult. Good thing the internet is full of reference material! The technology we have now gives us the power to create a perfect image, but in the ’40s and ’80s it was all done by hand, so the challenge was not to create a perfect poster, but to match the style of those eras. To do that I had to purposely cut some corners to make the images less “computer perfect”– I was not used to working that way.

Part of this project is re-imagining Canada’s film history. Did you try to put in any specifically Canadian elements into your posters?

No, I really approached creating the posters for these imaginary Canadian horror films in the same way as I do all my posters: I just made the best image I could. I did not try to make it more or less Canadian, but rather I tried to create a poster that was as real as possible that also did justice to the great ideas the directors I worked with had put in their outlines.

Did you have a favourite poster to work on?

I actually like all of the posters I did, but for different reasons. For THE MUMMY SPEAKS,  the challenge of making a 1940s poster was really cool for me, and the end result is a poster that’s very funny. I would definitely watch that film if it was real, it looks so silly and fun. I also love the image for RED, WHITE & BLUE SUNSHINE. This poster reminds me of the films I used to watch as a teenager, like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK or THE TERMINATOR. I think this poster would make for great VHS cover art too. For LA MORT DU CANADA, I really like the decay and the rubble, plus the flag is a very strong political statement. And a good post-apocalyptic film is always cool, too!

For all the latest on “If They Came From Within,” including previews of more of the posters for imaginary Canadian horror classics, like the project’s Facebook page.