Case study – My Thai Bride documentary film poster.
Case Study — Showreal Films’ latest documentary, My Thai Bride was selected for screening at IDFA, the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in November 2011.
Director David Tucker approached me with the need to capture a poster and postcard to attract an audience during IDFA and to hopefully be selected for other high profile festivals into the future.
I was given the trailer and below film synopsis along with David’s brief to help with understanding the film’s tone and themes:
Ted, a 46-year old salesman from Wales, visits Thailand on business. After revelling in the carnal pleasures of Bangkok, he falls in love with Tip, a bar girl. They marry and start a new life in her poor, rural home. Ted soon finds he isn’t alone. In northeast Thailand marriage to foreign men has become an industry. Things soon sour for Ted. His money has disappeared much faster than he expected. No one seems to want him around the farm anymore.
When Ted asks Tip if she loves him, she replies: “I can’t eat or drink your love.” Ted returns home destitute, having learned what his Thai wife already knew: without money you lose everything
A1 Film Poster
My Thai Bride is a documentary film that exposes the human condition. It explores the complexities of human relationships and the consequences when people and relationships are reduced to a commodity.
The observational style follows the story of two people with very legitimate but individual needs, that end up exploiting one another in the process.
On deciding the poster’s imagery, I chose to utilise the symbol of a heart as the motif of the poster – “love” being the backdrop to the film’s story. In my mind the symbolic heart is almost a mockery of the complex, expanding nature of love; suggestive in that the marriage in the film isn’t entirely made of mutual adoration and respect.
In order to reveal the complexities of the film I wanted to show a montage within the heart that accentuated the various sides of their stories. The various imagery reflects on the complications at play.
The torn heart framing the poster is alluding to what we’re all suspecting the story leads to. The teared up pieces, a bittersweet proposal that love was downplayed in a much more complex layering of needs displayed in the various images they hold. It is as if Ted himself is sitting alone in his hotel room, playing, arranging with these pieces, trying to figure out what had changed.
Top of the heart motif – An exchange sign
The finer details…
The exchange sign at the top of the heart is almost like the starting point; exchange of a different life for Ted in Thailand, exchanging money for love and sex, and feelings of youthful abundance. The image of Tip and her daughter mixed in with imagery of Soi Cowboy is a powerful juxtaposition to what’s at stake for her.
The paper effect of the poster looks and feels like it can be picked up and thrown away at any moment. It’s fragility adds to the film’s observation on their relationship.
Thailand – Warm Light
The colour toning I selected sets the scene for Thailand; I think I was influenced here by the film Traffic, where Mexico is always bathed in a warm, tropical light. It reminded me of being bathed in yellow light in Thailand – sunshine on the islands, polluted air in the cities.
Typical Wedding Invitation Typefaces
Finally the typefaces I’ve chosen are intended as a mockery of traditional wedding invitations; they’re full of prestige, hope, reassurance, finality; yet this tale tells something different. It’s real–life messiness and characters facing uncomfortable truths – an intended contrast to the approach of the heart motif.
The poster & postcard were well received by IDFA and I’ve now implemented a website for Showreal Films dedicated to the film that you can view here.
My Thai Bride has since been selected for several high profile documentary film festivals including Australia’s F4 Festival, where it was a finalist in the 2012 F4 Award, and Canada’s Hot Docs – one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the world, where it won Best Mid–Length Documentary for 2012.