Joe Russ chats to Danny Yount, the creative director responsible for the Emmy-award winning title sequence for US telly hit and the recent Saul Bass-styled titles for the latest Warner Bros offering,
Computer Arts: How do you plan a good title sequence, and where do you get inspiration for the imagery?
Danny Yount: I listen to the client. A good client will communicate very clearly what is important and what the film title should express, and be open to my interpretation.
CA: Tell us about your credit sequence for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Did Saul Bass influence the design?
DY: Very much so. After reading the script, which is based partly on fictitious crime novels of the 60s, I thought it would be best to take the viewer to that time period. Bass titles ruled back then, so it was appropriate. I wanted to keep the titles unpredictable.
CA: The titles for Six Feet Under formed one of the most famous sequences you have directed. How did you plan them?
DY: The pilot episode started with a death, so we started there. I came across an image one day of feet on a hospital trolley. It was a beautiful photo, and I liked the fact that you couldn't see the person's face. So I built a concept around that. When I heard Thomas Newman's musical score for the first time, I thought it sounded like it could be someone working. So I tried to hold the piece together with a mini-story about an average day in the life of a mortician. Ironically, I ended up being the guy pushing the trolley - I was hunched over like an old man.
CA: Our cover feature introduces several exciting new designers. Is there anyone up-and-coming in your industry that you admire?
DY: I like a directorial team called Ne-o. They have a great quality. I also like a piece about boxes created by Nakd.
CA: On the same subject, how did you get your first break?
DY: I'm self-taught, so I knew I would have less of a chance to get a real design job. But I constructed an interactive portfolio back in 1992 when people weren't doing much of that. I got the attention of a great Annual Report designer and fine art photographer called John Van Dyke in Seattle. He taught me all about design and helped me to develop my own voice in the industry.
CA: You must have to pitch concepts all the time. Do you get frustrated with work that doesn't make the cut?
DY: No. It provides an opportunity for me to learn something. Failure is a great teacher.
CA: Are there concept pieces of work you've done that you think are better than the winning concepts?
DY: Yes, at least in my opinion. But that will always be the case. In commercial work there are many variables and marketing agendas that can seem to limit the work in order to hit a larger target. But in the end I just want the satisfaction that I did my best and pushed myself.
INFO: To see more of Danny Yount's work, visit www.sixteentwenty.tv. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang gets its DVD release on 13 March