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Interview With Erik Sharkey, Director Of Drew Struzan The Man Behind The Poster

Interview With Erik Sharkey

If you are a fan of Steven Spielberg or George Lucas then you no doubt know the works of Drew Struzan. The man who brought us unforgettable movie posters such as the Indiana Jones movies, the Back To The Future Trilogy and the Star Wars prequels to name but a few. Movie posters that are now en grained in the memories of fans throughout the years. If there was any man in the movie industry that deserves a documentary made about him its Drew Struzan. Erik Sharkey is doing just that, a documentary called Drew: The Man Behind The Poster. The documentary will feature interviews with Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Michael J. Fox, Guillermo del Toro, Frank Darabont and the man himself Drew Struzan. Now if that's not a documentary worth watching I don't know what is.

I asked Erik if he would answer a few questions for The Bearded Trio and he very kindly agreed.

Rob Wainfur: Lets start with an obvious question. What is your favourite movie poster by the man himself Drew Struzan?
Erik Sharkey: It is really hard to pick a favorite Drew poster because I love them all. And so many of his images have stuck in my head over the years. But I have to admit that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is Definitely one.

I remember I was 12 when it came out. And that poster made me so excited for the film. The way he captures Indiana Jones and all the characters is amazing. And the composition is fantastic. I also love his poster for Big Trouble In Little China. I love how busy the composition is and he totally captures the tone and spirit of that movie.

RW: What do you think of the current quality of movie posters? Do you think Drew Struzan is one of the last greats in the field?
ES: I don't think movie posters are as good as they used to be. Right now they mostly just show a photo of an actor and put the title under it. They lack Imagination. I remember seeing a poster for a film called The Grey with Liam Neeson.

The poster is just his face looking angry with the title underneath. I had no idea what this movie was about. Then someone told me it was about people being stalked by wolves! The poster gives you none of that. All it tells you is Liam Neeson is in it and he is angry about something. A Drew Struzan poster gives you the tone of a film, the story, the characters. Drew does it by hand. So I also think his Illustrated posters have a humanity that you can't get from photoshop a lot of the time. You are seeing the work of a master artist when you look at a Drew Struzan Poster. He makes characters come to life in a way that is far more exciting than a photograph. Its more than just a painting of Indiana jones. It IS Indiana Jones. We totally need more Drew movie posters and more Illustrated art out there in general. A Drew Struzan poster stays with you forever. I think a lot of posters out there now are pretty forgettable. Drew is really one of the last great poster artists. The good thing is how much people connect with his work. So younger generations will continue to be inspired by his art.

RW: With the likes of Michael J Fox, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford to name but a few, were you star struck by anyone in particular while making the documentary?
ES: I was star struck by everybody! We have so many amazing people in the film. People that I grew up admiring. But I have to say the two people that intimidated me the most were Harrison Ford and George Lucas. Like a lot of people my age I saw the original Star Wars in the theatre when I was a kid and it changed my life. That movie made me want to be a filmmaker at age 5. So its hard to keep it cool when you're interviewing George Lucas and Harrison Ford. Luckily the Harrison Ford interview was later in the shoot so I was a lot better at doing interviews at that point. But the George Lucas interview was on the first day of shooting! What an amazing way to start a film.

RW: Reading the Drew Struzan book it became clear to me that Drew Struzan has a number of fans in the industry. I know Michael J Fox is a big fan. Did anyone insist or appear very eager on contributing to the documentary?
ES: Everyone wanted to be a part of this Documentary to honor Drew and his work. What is amazing is how much they know about his work. Michael J Fox has been a fan of Drew since his days of doing album covers! And it's great to have someone like actor Sam Witwer in the film. He is a younger actor but knows all of Drews work and grew up with it too. Directors Guillermo Del Toro and Frank Darabont are also very passionate about Drew's work. And they continue to ask him to do art for their films. Everyone in the film has been amazing. And they are very passionate about Drew's artwork and what it means to them.

RW: Do you own any of Drew's original artwork?
ES: I was very lucky to have Drew do the poster for my last film a campy comedy titled Sexina:Popstar PI. The film is so campy that Adam West plays the villain! And Drew made my dream come true by doing the poster. The poster is actually featured is Drew's new book. So I own the original artwork Drew did for my film. Which of course I cherish.

RW: I see George Lucas is in the documentary. Were you lucky enough to visit Skywalker Ranch?
ES: I was lucky enough to visit Skywalker Ranch and Lucasfilms facility at the Presidio. As a Star Wars fan it was amazing. So many props from the films everywhere. And amazing original artwork all over the walls. We shot Drew and George Lucas walking around and discussing Drew's artwork that is hanging up on the walls. That is a real highlight for me from the shooting as well as in the film.

RW: In his book, The Art of Drew Struzan, he mentions posing for many movies including Indiana Jones, were you surprised when you found this out? What other revelations did you discover about Drew?
ES: I have to admit I was surprised that Drew poses for the actors as much as he does. He poses for Indiana Jones. He also posed for Kurt Russell in the Big Trouble poster. One thing that is amazing is that he did the poster for The Thing overnight! He created that masterpiece in one night! Another thing that surprised me is how often he did posters for films that he didn't actually see when he made the poster. He didn't see the The Thing when he created that poster. Same thing with First Blood. So I was blown away by how well he can capture the tone of a film that he hasn't seen!

RW: What's next? Any chance of a John Williams documentary? Fans have been crying out for a well deserved doc on the master for years. I'll start campaigning now!
ES: I'm shocked someone hasn't already made a Documentary about John Williams. That is a film that I would love to see. I would love to make a Doc about him. I grew up on his scores. But first I have to finish my Doc about my favorite artist Drew Struzan. Which is keeping me super busy at the moment.

RW: Speaking of fans, how has the community reacted to this upcoming documentary on Drew Struzan? Is there a lot of excitement and does this add a little pressure because of the anticipation?
ES: We have gotten great reactions and support from the fans. The reason I am making this film is because I am such a fan of Drew myself. So it is a film made by fans for fans. And I'm truly humbled by the support. It is amazing to see how many people appreciate and love Drew's work and want to share that. I really want to make a film that pleases his fans. And I also want to make a film that will expose Drew's work to a whole new audience. I have been very lucky to interview such amazing people for the film. And I have been honored to work with an amazing team behind the camera. People like Charles Ricciardi, Greg Boas, Jeff Yorkes, Jose Ochea and Thomas Mumme to name a few. Everyone working on this film has done it for the love of Drew's work. So I take the responsibility of making a film that delivers very seriously. I can't thank the fans and my crew enough!

RW: Finally when is the documentary coming out and how can we catch it? Will it be only available in the US initially?
ES: We are in the final stages of finishing the film now. And as of yet we do not have a Distributor. Even though we have all these big names in the film. The truth is it's a independent film. And I mean a real Independent film. I have been funding most of the film out of my pocket. So right now we are talking to possible distributors. Me and my partners Greg Boas and Charles Ricciardi want to get the best distribution for the film possible. So as of now we have no release date. But I can't wait for people to see the film. I think it tells the story of a great artist and a great man. And you get to see people like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Michael J Fox etc in a new way. Discussing Illustration, the industry and of course the art of Drew Struzan.

Thanks to Erik Sharkey for taking the time to answer my questions. You can keep up to date with all the latest on the upcoming documentary from the website and in the mean time if you want to learn more about Drew Struzan you can visit his website at I also recommend reading his book The Art Of Drew Struzan which I reviewed here Finally you can visit the official Drew Struzan page on Facebook.

I will also keep you updated on the documentary here on The Bearded Trio.
Rob Wainfur


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