Sideways Story / by Robert Neubecker


     I've won a lot of awards for the Sideways poster, AI, Society of Illustrators, and the Key Award- poster design's Oscar- for best comedy poster. There's a story behind the making of this. The funniest part is that they used one of my sketches for the final art. I had no idea until I saw it. When the job came in from Stephanie Allen at Fox Searchlight, I was delighted, of course, and determined to land this one for illustrators everywhere. It's been a long time since we've seen illustrated movie posters like this -  I am referring to the simple graphic posters of the late 50's and sixties by people like Tommy Ungerer and Saul Bass. So I did dozens of sketches. The director, Alexander Payne, had seen a cover that I'd done for the L.A. Times Magazine about alienation in Southern California and wanted to capture the same feeling of anger and malaise. It did help that I had Paul Giomatti as the star.I did a half assed likeness of Paul just so they got the idea, and then did every combination of two drunks, two women, and booze that I could think of- in the three or four days I had. I heard nothing for two weeks- then I got the call that the poster was done. I tried to argue, but Stephanie said it's printed...  so I said send it over. Anyway, turns out that they liked the freshness of the sketch. I would have tightened up the likenesses- but it's always a battle in drawing to maintain that perfect balance between energy and accuracy. I have had art directors just use the sketch before, to great effect.  

 Christian Struzen, my designer, turned the bottle on it's side, added the green texture, and of course did the type. Sideways came out in the fall of 2004. I've done three other movie posters since, one for the movie "Cyrus" with Marisa Tomei and John C. Reiley, one with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and one with Halle Berry. The suits went with photos.


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The winning sketch.

The winning sketch.

This is the L.A. Times Magazine cover that inspired the producers of Sideways to commission the poster.

This is the L.A. Times Magazine cover that inspired the producers of Sideways to commission the poster.