The impact of film artwork on perception and sales

How much impact does artwork have on a film?

You may not judge a book by its cover, but certainly most people do exactly that when contemplating what movie to watch.

As a film-maker, or marketer, you have a matter of seconds to grab attention as your would-be customer scans a page (or even a catalog) of possibilities.

So it’s important that your message be clear, easily understood, and, probably most importantly, stand out from the crowd.

The Last Lullaby is the perfect case study, and I wanted to take a look at indie film marketing in action when it comes to cover artwork. It’s a key factor in its “branding.”

Ever since I met director Jeffrey Goodman (‘The Last Lullaby‘) a few months back in San Jose, and subsequently interviewed in a great 3-part series of StarkSilverCreek Presents, I’ve been following his adventures. Many people suggest the hard work is done with the film wraps production. That may be the case in large budget Hollywood releases that have legions of staff. But in the indie world, it’s all about heavy lifting. Jeffrey Goodman has been touring the country, zig-zagging from film festival, screening the film whenever possible, interacting with fans and tirelessly promoting his work. All in an effort to impact sales and buzz, which will hopefully influence a strong distribution deal, which in turn will provide economic returns for the original investors. It’s a challenge to say the least.

It was recently announced the film had received a DVD distribution deal. One of the interesting things I noted was an update to the cover artwork (Jeffrey updated everyone on this via Facebook and email). The new cover made sense to me. Take a look below at the original and new artwork.

Original Artwork


New DVD Artwork


My take

I prefer the newer one for a few reasons. First, it has a dramatic look (black and white with intense looking faces). Also, the appearance of the gun suggests this is perhaps a violent drama of some kind. Finally, I get a 1970s vibe, noire sense—and that of course is the sould of the film. My big issue with the original is that it looked too cerebral, too domestic. Of course Lullaby does have intelligent character depth, but it’s possible some people may have missed that based on the cover art alone.

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