The Frank Miller's Sin City-inspired title sequence for Florent Siri's 2005 thriller Hostage, featuring Bruce Willis, places the viewer right in the center of a high profile crime scene taking place in one of L.A's upscale suburbs. The action scene - rendered in stark black-and-off-white contrasting colors, with deep blood red as the only supporting color- is frozen is frozen in time. As the camera pans across the scene, alternating between wide and close shots, the tension builds slowly but surely, culminating in the film's climactic opening scene.
Difficult to fathom, but a big part of the work on this title sequence was done by just one man, Laurent Brett. This French title designer has since established himself as the most productive, and quite possibly as the most important French motion designers of the last decade - one who continues to work in the line of his predecessors such as Jean Fouchet.
The initial inspiration for the title sequence came from Frank Miller’s Sin City comics and the Panic Room title sequence. “I’m a fan of types in perspective!” says title designer Laurent Brett.
“The director, Florent Siri is also French and I’d worked with him before on several music videos and on his previous movie ‘The Nest’. Because we’re friends, he involved me in this project since the first day. He wanted to make a high pressure sequence in a high contrast black-and-white style. I went to the shoot, took 1500 photos for reference and textures. We then built the set in CG and I made a lot of shots from macro to wide. I wanted to do shots that were impossible to do in real life, but with a realistic look. I edited the sequence with 30 CG shots."
40 TEST IMAGES
Striking, Frank Miller's Sin City-inspired art in expressive black, white and red.
This is a first test Laurent made "to convince the producers they can trust a 'small french guy' to do the job," explains Laurent. "At this time Florent [the director] was just getting to L.A. to rework the script. I wasn't very sure about the plot of the movie."
Laurent did a lot of the work himself from his studio in France, this included directing, compositing, editing, and grading. "A small crew of four guys of the French studio Specimen worked on the CG part. It was a one year job, between the first and the last day.”
LAURENT BRETT IN OUR 2010 VIDEO PROFILE
Laurent discusses Hostage at at 5'23"
Watch on Vimeo
Article: Remco Vlaanderen, © Submarine Channel, 21 January 2008. Last update 17 July 2013.
About Laurent Brett
Laurent Brett is a motion graphic designer from Paris, France who has a huge passion for creating film titles. His knowledge of French title design of the past 50 years is impressive. Brett studied two years at a school for communication, which sparked his interest in video editing. He gradually rolled into the motion design business in the 1990's, working as a post-production supervisor, editor and motion graphic designer on music videos and commercials. For several years now, Brett’s primary focus is designing Main Titles for film and TV - ranging from simple "font work" to elaborate creative title sequences. He works a lot and usually on several projects at the same time.
Laurent Brett had an office at the Sabotage studios in Paris, France, where we visited him in 2010 for a video interview. September 2013, Laurent will leave Sabotage to found his own studio Brett & Compagnie.