Design Spotlight | Creating an opener and graphics for Black Girl Film School

Black Girl Film School is a collection of media experts, filmmakers, screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, directors, teachers, instructional designers, and below the line crew – all with one common goal of increasing the number of Black women working in the industry above and below the line. We spoke to The Mill's Senior Producer Holly Dyroff and Art Director Henry De Leon on what it was like creating a series of inspiring graphics for the film school.
Work September 25, 2020

What was it like working with Jayda to achieve the end goal? 

Holly: We loved working with Jayda, her passion and vision for BGFS is infectious! It was really inspiring to see how committed our team was to the creative process and really wanting to honor the vision of BGFS. I’ve worked on a lot of incredible projects during my time with The Mill LA, but it’s a rare opportunity to be able to facilitate something that you hope has real change within your community and the culture of your own workplace. Jayda was an amazing collaborator and was very generous with her time, it’s great to see how the conversations she shared with our artists have really influenced the graphic language, our whole aim throughout the project was to make something that felt like a true reflection of the spirit of BGFS. 

Henry: It was such a pleasure to work and collaborate with Jayda, the team and I really believed in what she was doing and we wanted to put everything into it. What motivated me personally was remembering my own childhood. Being a first-generation Filipino immigrant, I had to figure out what I was going to be when I grew up. If I went through a program like this early on, it would have been such an advantage. And it’s definitely something I wanted to give to these kids – an advantage and encouragement.


What does this opener and graphics package for BGFS promote?

Henry: After our initial call with Jayda, it was clear to the team that she wanted the overall graphics package to be joyous and upbeat a step in the forward direction. With that, it was important that the girls in this program are able to engage and see themselves in the roles specific to BGFS. So we designed archetypes of these would be directors, screenwriters, editors, and costume designers and we packaged and developed an overall tone that was relevant to the age group and made the information in the program easy for them to absorb and digest.


How will the graphics package be used?

Henry: The graphics package is branding that gives a cohesive look to BGFS. A lot of information is being given in these classes and it was important to visually tie them together making it easy to comprehend.

How did you decide on the creative for this project?

Henry: There were a few challenges, but the first was getting the opening right and everything else would follow. We were limited to 6 seconds and we wanted to not only speak to the girls about possibilities as filmmakers but also to visually say this is a film program. The solution was, make it look like a film leader, which is the count down before a film starts. It was a clever way to move through our narrative quickly and its execution harkens to the origins of the film industry. 


Interpreting the BGFS curriculum must have been fun – talk us through the process?

Henry: It was important that we knew the structure of the program so we could see the scope of the project. After we figured out its separate elements, we needed to find out how to make this wealth of information appealing to the age group. So we did a deep dive pulling visual references and as well as looking at any preexisting branding that could help us find the note we wanted to hit. There were a few pieces front their branding guide that helped us get a start. From there what evolved is an upbeat, current and celebratory graphics package.


What’s your favourite element of the design?

Henry: I really enjoyed making the icons for the girls. Most of the work I’m doing now is based on character designs, and it was so nice I could fit that little piece of myself in the project. It was important that we got different shapes and sizes so it would be inclusive and the girls could relate to them.


You can find out more about Black Girl Film School on their website or Instagram @blackgirlfilmschool and get in contact with our Design Studio here. Discover more of our work at The Mill’s Design Studio.