Projection of Pride
NewFest, LGBT Film Festival
NewFest, New York’s premier LGBT Film Festival, is dedicated to bringing together filmmakers and audiences to bring voice and visibility to the LGBT experience. Since it’s start twenty-eight years ago, the festival has has picked up incredible momentum. With each growing year, the festival has shifted its design principles to the changing landscape of LGBT acceptance in New York. To promote the 2016 festival, the concept of projecting pride throughout the city, both in spirit and in visuals, was used.
With NewFest 2016 approaching, it was evident that this year would be it’s powerhouse year. With an A-List celebrity attendance, keynote speaking from Debra Messing, and three venues showing over 100 premiere films, the festival’s visibility encouraged an even bigger ask than normal. With 2016 shaping up to be a benchmark year, a 360 media campaign was made based in simple ads with nuanced typography and powerful imagery.
Following the legalization of gay marriage across the United States in 2015, the team chose a visual concept reminiscent of the now ubiquitous presence of LGBT culture. We took the rainbow, the traditional symbol of LGBT Pride, and moved it out of the flag and into the real world. Direct lighting through prisms was used to cast cinematic rainbows across a series of portraits and promotional films. These then were placed throughout New York City in various forms of out of home and across social media.
To make the images, a prism was used to redirect light onto the portrait subjects' face. While serendipitous sunlight is traditional used for prism imagery, a more reproducible and crafted approach was needed to shoot in studio.
The prism had to work with traditional portrait light. While the prism could work as the primary source, the balanced approach of mixing with soft-white light is what echoed the intention of the project – not to overpower, but to blend.
After several tests, a rig was designed using a focused-ellipsoidal white beam light into a big soft source as a key light. A stick of three prisms was placed in the heat of the beam, redirecting some of the light into a “sweet spot” for subjects to stand in. Post-production was used to composite bracketed exposures, some where the prism looked best and some where the key light did, to create a tastefully balanced frame.
The portrait session was held during a summer day spent at New York's LGBT Community Center – a cultural hub for the community. An open casting was for members to come by to have their picture taken. The diversity of the people and their vibrant personalities created a dynamic range of authentic portraiture.
“I thought it’d be a challenging day to have people loosen up and stand in a specific beam of colored light, but the people were amazing,” the photographer said about the portrait session. “Everyone who sat gave an honest, emotive portrait. They immediately got the concept and showed their true colors.”
The minimal design system provided a clear stage for the bright imagery to stand upon. It was important that typography complement, but not overpower campaign photography and promoted films. Primarily black and white colors were used, with pops of magenta for key information. A border was used as a framing device, and added an artistic presence.
In addition to the still photography, video was produced for social assets. The video highlighted commonplace New York scenes, kissed with the prismatic hues. The combination of portraits along with video of everyday street scenes painted the full spectrum of LGBT New York.
These clips were converted into motion-branded assets for Instagram, as well as used in the festival promotional video. The motion branding took the colorful spectrum of the imagery and incorporated it into the clean NewFest logotype. Grain and flare were also used to nod at cinema.
After the work finished, a media buy was generously gifted, including premiere space on major digital billboards in Time Square (fifteen animated screens in total.) Throughout the entire month of October, NewFest’s :30 billboards played in consistent loop on the world’s biggest advertising stage.
The NewFest ads cut through the visual noise of the other Times Square billboards with their understated, fine-art presence. Amongst the loud advertising visuals, the minimal typographic design along with fine-art imagery caught eyes with a humble approach. In a traditionally cacophonous space, the NewFest billboards were able to communicate a welcome invitation to the film festival.
Robert Kushner, the organization’s Executive Director, spoke about the billboards at the festival's opening night. He remarked about how a child traveling with their family in Times Square might look up at the ads, seeing “LGBT” shining bright above the city, and feel a powerful sense of acceptance.
Other out-of-home media included twenty bus-shelter and parking lot posters in high-traffic areas, as well as takeovers at Cinepolis and SVA theatre, the festival’s primary venues.The visual identity was also executed in pamphlets, marquees, signage, digital banners, and other various collateral.
Over 7,000 attendees came to the four day festival. Additionally, social media exposure had a huge increase in the running month of October. Instagram followers increased 27%, Twitter garnered 275K impressions, and nearly 6 million facebook engagements were documented. The Times Square billboards played garnered an estimated 4 million real time impressions, along with 10 million impressions from the bus shelters and metrolights.
All in all, the culmination of work gave a strong visual voice to the LGBT festival. The unified presence of design and prism imagery made for a campaign that had it’s presence felt throughout New York City. From Times Square, to bus shelters, to social posts, this was NewFest’s biggest year, both in communications and turnout.