A Fish Called Wanda: Movie Title Sequence

art direction, animation, illustration

This title sequence was created for the movie A Fish Called Wanda. The design was intended to highlight the bold personalities of the film's main characters as well as some of the film's most iconic scenes. The sequence's aesthetic was inspired by a blueprint, drawing on the idea of a heist plan that ultimately goes awry.

Process

Before deciding on how to best represent the plot of the movie in the opening titles, I had to first define an appropriate aesthetic. I looked to heist movies from the 1950s and 1960s, film noir stories, caper comedies, architectural blueprints, and the trappings of crime and deciet. Following my research, I created a moodboard to tease out the essentials of these reference materials.

moodboard

The film is anchored by a cast of idiosyncratic characters whose personalities and interactions drive the plot forward. Their clothes, their mannerisms, even their stance communicats who they are as individuals. In order to ensure that the title sequence would capture the importance of these characters, their representations had to be as vibrant and dimensional as the players themselves. 

character sketches

character illustrations

After illustrating all of the characters models I needed, I began thinking about what these characters would be doing. I drew a lot of inspiration from the titles for "Catch Me If You Can", specifically how the sequence told the whole story without giving away too many specifics. It's a bold move to give away the plot of the movie before it has even started. I also loved how it perfectly communicated the film's tone without being overly complicated.

 

I wanted to similarly recreate the world of "A Fish Called Wanda" with an ultimate reveal that the entire sequence unraveld in miniature inside the letters of the films title. I blocked out the particular events from the movie that I wanted to use, highlighting key plot points and iconic scenes, and I then worked out the details of the animation in a storyboard.

scene studies

storyboard

The storyboard flow was working well, and the characters were really coming alive in their scenes. However, the type choices and brush illustrations felt very unresolved and, to be honest, amateurish. They were not working in harmony with each other, and they felt out of place with blueprint background. I revisited my moodboard and refernece images and came across a lot of hand drawn elements, usually in chalk or white ink. This aesthetic would prove to be a better fit for the design.

chalk illustrations and hand written type