Katharina Kubrick is Stanley Kubrick's daughter. At her father's passing, she worked with her mother Christiane on Eyes Wide Shut's posters. Those are the first from Stanley Kubrick's filmography done digitally. Three concepts were rejected by Warner Bros. until they find the concept of the final poster we know. She kindly agreed to answer our questions.
In our fist messages, you told me that you’ve got involved in these posters because you felt Warner Bros. was too much focused on the erotic part. Can you give some details? Did they show some unused concept posters you could describe?
WB’s were sending us poster concepts. I’m assuming no one in their graphics dept had seen the film yet, therefore the design ideas we saw were too lascivious and therefore unsuitable. We and the WB’s publicity man here in the UK, felt that they were off the mark and that Stanley wouldn’t have liked them.
Your mother led the campaign. How did you work together ? What inspired you for these tones and the style of the poster, which were rather different from the final one?
My mother felt very strongly that she knew Stanley’s taste best of all, and she wanted to design the posters... WB’s kindly agreed. My mother is an artist and has a strong sense of colour and design. We hired someone who could help us with the computer side of things, and through discussion and trial and error learning how to use the programmes (Painter and Photoshop), we felt that MASKS were the way to go. We obtained full face photos of Tom [Cruise] and Nicole [Kidman]. It was my job to create the cut out masks so they still looked like them, and then apply the crazed surface effects of masks. Christiane [Katharina's mother and Stanley's spouse] was very involved with the colours and we chose the font very carefully.
These posters were made digitally while both of you were "traditional" artists, working with oils. You were assisted by a "computer geek" as it was more or less the first time you turned a computer on. Why did you work digitally? Was this simply a requirement from Warner Bros, or were you curious about these technologies?
Working digitally was the only way to do it. We were both complete beginners and learned on the job.
How long did you work on these posters? Do you feel it would have been longer (or quicker) if you designed it traditionally?
It was weeks of work actually. But we were under a certain amount of time pressure to produce something we felt was appropriate to the film and that Stanley and the studios would have liked. It was a sad time, we were still crying, but the mission of making beautiful posters for Stanley’s last film was important to us. It would have taken much longer if we had used traditional mediums. Neither one of us is a graphic artist or calligrapher. Those are very specialist skills.
Eyes Wide Shut is the only poster from your father’s career digitally designed for the first release. If he was curious about new technologies, do you remember him being interested by Photoshop (which was released just after Full Metal Jacket) or he simply never mentioned it from what you can recall?
Stanley was well aware of Photoshop, and I'm guessing that had he lived, whichever artists he engaged to design his posters might have used it too. Stanley would have loved the speed and the potential for endless tinkering... Personally I fell in love with the “undo” button, so much better than an eraser!
Your father was quite involved in the poster and marketing campaigns of his movies. We know he asked Philip Castle [A Clockwork Orange poster designer] and Saul Bass [Spartacus and Shining posters] to design several concepts which he then rejected (which often happens). But could you tell at which extent was he involved? Did he used to have some poster concepts in mind or references before hiring any artist?
He was utterly involved. I don’t know how he initially chose the artists, previous designs perhaps, but