Phast Gurlz

This has been bugging me for a while.

Probably best you watch this first

So, Fast Girls is a cynical Olympics cash-in by the British Film industry. Don’t try and justify it any other way: It is. No I haven’t seen it. I like to cast my aspersions from the comfy seat of ignorance. I am not here to weigh in on the film itself as I have never seen it and never will. I have little to no interest in hard-line class-based social realist cinema that British Cinema so doggedly adheres to. No matter how ‘feel-good’ or whatever it may be. I have no interest in sport either so in general this ain’t my kinda film. What DOES bug me and what I WILL gripe about is the marketing.

I saw that trailer first and to be blunt I can tell you the story and character arcs in detail right now if you want. Seen one of these films you’ve seen ’em all. It may well be refreshingly well told, or have incredible performances, snappy dialogue and tight direction, I don’t know. Again, I also don’t care. What the trailer does is reinforces some really painful stereotypes we should really be encouraging films to dispense with: the sassy black girls, wealthy button down white girls, etc. I will admit it at least shows some progression that it is a female based cast for a change. A drum the marketing will also no doubt beat…

But what really pissed me off was this:

That is the poster for the movie that I have been continually seeing on buses that drive past. As someone whose father was one of the best graphic designers in the country, whose best friend is a graphic designer and has done a lot of graphic design himself AND is a fan of film, this poster is frankly insulting to me and you.

Now I’m not talking about the dreadful Bangkok Dangerous school of awful film posters, no no no. I’m talking about the poor quality and sinisterly subtextual school of posters like the Avengers.

Okay, so: We have a cast shot that’s not very well stitched together in photoshop (look at where the arms overlap on fast girl 1 and fast girl 2). Now this is a standard for films now, you trade on your cast of young and beautiful people or at least on your big name like Shia Le Boeuf or whatever (these are called ‘Locomotives’ in the industry fact fans) you very rarely get really intrepid movie posters any more. You know the ones. That tell you the story or give you a sense of mood in an interesting tableaux? Like Vertigo, Apocalypse Now or The Shining? Saul Bass was the man at this, latterly Drew Struzan and now Olly Moss do the best work I think. Unfortunately the artistry has never been the most important thing with film posters, they’re there to sell the film and these days that means slapping beautiful faces, bodies or boobs on the poster. So we can tick that box.

Right, now the nitty-gritty. That line. That painfully obvious to everyone, representational LINE in the middle, so woefully patched together at the arms. I feel like one of those boxing ring announcers: “On the right hand side we have the upper class, painfully white and uncool team with bitchy blonde girl and boyishly handsome love interest! Aaaaaaaand in the left side we have the hipper than thou, down to earth, from the street, good guys you all gotta root for; talented but under-appreciated because of her class/skin colour lead! Humourously raised eyebrow comic-relief sidekick! And the rest!” We all know these archetypes and fair enough but this just seems like they’re not even trying to hide it. Look at the clothes! The ‘good guys’ i.e. the black people, wear black. Whuh? I thought they were all on the same team? Don’t they have a uniform or something? And fine, if they want to wear black: Great! But why are ALL the black people wearing black and red? How come bitchy white girl gets to wear blue and pasty mcboyband is crystal white? Even down to the horrendously uneven lighting? Despite those incongruously ineffectual floodlights in the background? The ‘Bad guys’ arms are folded! Consciously and subconsciously humans know exactly what that body language means. Sassy girl at the back has her hands on her hips mind you… And I wonder who paid a substantial amount as a sponsor incase you couldn’t tell by the triple stripe and ADIDAS logo on everyone’s clothes? The title is in fucking ITALICS! It all but has go faster stripes on it! And why does the title logo have someone fucking running in it?! Did the sportswear, racing track and the fact the film is called fucking FAST GIRLS not spell that out enough? And why, in God’s name, is a key selling point (directly below the title no less) who is on the fucking soundtrack?!

Is this kind of patronising, insulting and, I won’t beat around the bush, slightly racist marketing not massively insulting to us as an audience? Anyone? Or is it just me? Photoshop is an incredible tool we can do so much with and the power of suggestion is far more potent than this cheap, slapdash attempt at a public face for a film that could (for all I know) be really good. As usual the marketing of a piece of art (AND FILM IS ART DAMMIT!) is reduced to cheap, stock, stereotypes and crass salesmanship. I wish more people (and I know I keep banging this drum and if I suck this man’s dick any harder it’s liable to drop off) would follow Christopher Nolan’s idea of not spelling everything out for you in the trailer and the posters. It takes a bit of work these days to not have everything about a film known as soon as the film starts shooting but it makes a film all the more intriguing when you know little about it. If all you see are snippets that leave you guessing or something more ambiguous or tonally intriguing you are more liable to go and see it. Less is most definitely more. Nobody knew anything about the Dark Knight or Inception (another shit poster btw) but the furore and pre-sales were through the roof. There should be more artistry in the marketing of films as it proves more lucrative for the films themselves in the long run. Though I am sure with the amount of corporate sponsorship and titanic press junket this film will be squeezed through, not to mention the Olympics tie-in, it will do pretty well and, as I said, it may well deserve it. But if nothing else, the poster has most definitely made me not want to see it.

I decided to set myself a challenge while writing this post to make a better poster for this film so I will. It will take a little while so I will post this and then add the image later. It could be shit but I would argue it could be no shitter than this piece of shit.


Here’s my attempt. It is rubbish and very rushed. Took about half an hour and I was tired. These are my excuses. But my point remains: It is a simpler, typography based, poster but gets the point across without giving too much away. If I could be arsed I’d have altered the perspective of the font so it vanished into the distance with the track and got an image that was a wide enough shot of the track so I could evenly spread the letters, etc. Either way, whilst the finishing isn’t as good I would argue that, given I had no budget and no time, the premise and delivery is better than something that cost a lot more in time and money. Or if not ‘better’ at least less obvious, patronising, racist and shit. But I’ll let you decide.

Would love to hear/see your favourite film posters and let me know what you think of Fast Girls’. Am I way off? Will post picture in due course.


2 thoughts on “Phast Gurlz

  1. Totally agree re the Fast Girls marketing – it’s hellish, and I would say “sixth form level” graphic design, but it’s actually much worse. It shows no love of design, no creativity and no engagement with the subject. It’s cynical and it does exactly what it says on the tin and no more.

    Favourite poster has to be the one for Rosemary’s Baby – terrifying to this day!

    The sad thing is, it hadn’t occurred to me that all the art seems to have gone from film posters. But, thinking about it, it most definitely has. Great post and I look forward to seeing what you come up with for Ph@st Grrlz.

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