5 ways we drew inspiration from a legendary film director

Film director, Wes Anderson has always been distinguished for his visual artistry, detail-rich sets, and storybook-like imagery. From the whimsical feel of Fantastic Mr. Fox to the carefully crafted sets in Darjeeling Express, Anderson’s movies are nothing less of visual masterpieces!

This aesthetics-conscious filmmaker follows certain practices that can inspire User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) designers. Professional designers can improve their designs by studying the director’s techniques and implementing those practices within their creative processes. Here are five things we learnt:

1. Eye for detail

Anderson has been called the “Most Meticulous Filmmaker Alive.” For The Grand Budapest Hotel, he pulled in a graphic designer who used a real 1930’s typewriter to create all the typewritten documents.

For designers, attention to detail conveys a love for the product. The tiniest specifics allow the users to be completely immersed in the experience. The level of detail shown in The Grand Budapest Hotel is what allows the audience to be immersed into an entirely different world. This can create an emotional connection, one that truly engages the users and encourages brand loyalty.

2. Symmetry and visual hierarchy

One of the visual hallmarks of a Wes Anderson film is its symmetry (and the 90–180 degree pan shot, but let’s talk about symmetry here). If you haven’t watched any of his works, this is where we will say, “Go watch it now!” in order to completely understand this point.

Like Anderson, designers aim to build well-balanced compositional layouts and create visual order. Using grid structures helps achieve structural balance and brings attention to visual cues and calls-to-action, so the user can quickly find desired content and be subconsciously pleased with the app’s overall look and feel.

3. Research first

All film directors conduct personal research before making their film, but Anderson makes everyone – from the set designer to the producer, do their research in an interactive & creative process that starts with Google scouting locations, visiting them, taking photographs and sometimes shaping the film accordingly.

Designers should also conduct methodical research. This might start by reviewing competitors and narrowing down features in their own design that can potentially be enhanced or even removed. Designers should also research different types of users to help identify behavioural patterns, motivating factors and pain points of potential users.

4. Colours can guide your eyes

The colour grading in Anderson’s fictional worlds is usually highly saturated, which creates a dream-like feel. In his movie ‘The Life Aquatic’ with Steve Zissou, he mostly uses blue tones, but he breaks this monotony by giving Steve Zissou, the main character, a red hat. This is so that we never miss any details whenever the character is on screen.

Researchers found that up to 90% of judgements about products are based solely on colour. Designers leverage colours to strategically brand and position their products and to tap into users’ emotions. Designers should always spend time experimenting with colour palettes.

Tip: A great colour tool for designers, inspired from Wes Anderson is wesandersonpalettes.tumblr.com.

5. Find your story

Anderson is first and foremost a storyteller who tells the most unorthodox stories using his visual styling. Though the director has admitted that most of his films “don’t really have a plot”, they all tell a smooth flowing story which is almost like a fairy tale.

Designers should see the big picture of a product and simultaneously understand that its value lies in every interaction the consumer has with it. In this case, the interactions are the stories and one must try to make these interactions as smooth and ‘fairy tale-like’ as possible.

Everyone within any medium should look at creative geniuses like Anderson for inspiration. Because as Bob Dylan said, “Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.”

Who is your favourite film director that inspires you and in what way? We would love to hear from you. And don’t worry, this question can never have a wrong answer!


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