One of the pitfalls of being a freelancer is that, on occasion, you run into situations where it’s necessary to do some work to get some work.
By that I mean, you have to attend meetings, prepare design sketches and present them to a client all before being paid a penny. Some times this pays off and some times it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, you find yourself in possession of “orphans”, designs that are doomed to walk the earth, never fully realized and unattached to a project.
This is the story of just such a scenario and the designs that resulted.
Nearly a year ago I was contacted by a fellow I went to high school with. He had finished editing his first feature film and he claimed he wanted to update the film’s website to generate buzz about the movie’s imminent release. We had coffee, threw some ideas around but mainly, we discussed my former film and television career (I used to work as an assistant director).
When the afternoon had come to a close he informed me that he was about to embark on a clandestine endeavor that would keep him unreachable for several weeks. He would contact me afterwards. He also revealed that he was severely in debt because of the film, a revelation that left me feeling skeptical.
Despite the situation smelling fishy, I came up with three design sketches for him to consider and emailed them to him while he was on his secret mission. After a month or so he contacted me and told me that he had to discuss matters with the film’s producer and that he’d get back to me.
And that was the last I heard from him.
Since the original website has yet to be updated it’s become clear to me that the true purpose of our meeting was for the filmmaker to ask me questions about working in the Toronto film community.
The criteria for these designs was that the movie takes place in a stylized office environment similar to the one in Joe Versus the Volcano and has anachronistic technology much like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. The filmmaker wanted the site to reflect this.
The first design (also featured at the beginning of this post) is the one that I think would have won the selection process. It was designed to be a flash site, similar in style to Love Connection the Movie.
When the site was loaded the florescent light would move, with a rusty ‘clank’ and a spark of light, from it’s proper alignment to the position that you see in the image. It would continue to flicker and buzz slightly for the duration of your stay on the site. The old school computer on the desk is very similar to the one’s featured in the office environment of the film. Content such as the trailer, slideshows and text would load into the framed image on the wall.
The next design was also planned as a flash site and here I played with the fact that the film’s protagonist has just started working at a firm called Raven Advertising.
The raven, itself, wouldn’t do much except occasionally blink it’s eye. The main area of the site would be the computer screen, which would default to featuring a game of pong being played by unknown opponents (pong is also featured in the film). When a user clicked on one of the overhead buttons (whose alignment would be corrected in a later design phase) the content would load into the computer screen.
For the foreground, I used a photograph of an insurance form that I created and then stained with a coffee cup. I combined this with an image from the film’s original site, some stock photographs of wall paper, a paper clip and blood drops to complete the design.
As you can see, the insurance application is angled as if it’s resting on something. This would be an impractical way to load all of the content for the site, as a visitor would find it difficult to read. Therefore, once the user clicked a button, they would be taken to a page styled to look like the insurance form but presented in a standard orientation.
And there you have it…
A glimpse into the exciting world of a freelance web designer and three examples of orphaned designs which, perhaps, feel a little less lonely now that you’ve run your compassionate eyes over them.