Velvet Buzzsaw

By Mitch Kedrosky

Mailed on March 01, 2019

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Dear Hazel Baird
Title Designer

Dear Hazel,

Velvet Buzzsaw has to be the coolest movie title of the year. I can only imagine how excited you must have been to design the credit sequence. A horror movie set in the exclusive world of high-art by Dan Gilroy (who made the incredible Nightcrawler) meant the visual possibilities for satire, mystery, and visual splendor were endless. Plus, the film has undeniable star power—many serious names to put in your sequence, and millions of people bound to read those names.

Of course, the movie is produced by Netflix—a company known for adding a skip feature to opening credits. Which is infuriating. Most people don’t realize that the credit sequence is such a delicate art. It doesn’t just show who did what (and, especially, what you did) —it establishes so much more.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Rene Russo are big names. Good names too, from a design perspective (all those delicious double letters and what not). And you got to design how those names come across the screen, before we even meet their characters. You did a wonderful job making pre-introductions, giving us a tonal taste of what’s to come. After watching it several times, I love how it uses abstraction to tease the deadly and decadent world of Velvet Buzzsaw.

The illustration style is dangerous, elegant, and a little playful—just like the movie. It tastefully hints at the fantastical too. Once your sequence ended with that classic circle-open transition, I was excited for what was to come. What more can you ask for in the opening credits?

Unfortunately, as the film ran its course, I began to slowly lose my enthusiasm.

Things started to take a turn south the second I furiously scribbled “CAT JUMPSCARE” into my notebook. It’s a shame really, because your opening sequence is too good to be followed by something as cheap as a cat jumping loudly into frame.

I felt like the movie spent all this time giving us a glimpse into a deliciously cutthroat confection of artifice, only to diffuse all the foreboding interpersonal relationships with a pedestrian, and goofy supernatural conclusion. I can see the appeal from a design perspective, but as an audience member it left me cold - like a piece of uninspired art forced onto the gallery floor by a backdealing curator. I felt like a critic being forced to buy into something just because I got a swept up by the early buzz.

While we’re on the subject of suspending disbelief, I simply could not believe Gyllenhaal’s character is named Morf…  He just doesn’t seem like a Morf to me. Your name, however, is definitely one I’ll be looking out for in future films, hoping you can find a movie worthy of your talents.


Mitch Kedrosky

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