The Sarasota Film Society is a nonprofit and member-supported organization dedicated to providing the highest levels of entertainment and education to the public from all areas of the film industry.
The Sarasota Film Society has attracted an older audience over the years with their focus on independent films and they were ready to rebrand themselves for a younger demographic. They were seeking a mobile-friendly site, easy-to-update on a daily basis, and something that felt like an experience–just like going to the movies should be.
As a movie lover, I wanted to capture the spirit of immersing yourself in the visuals of a film. I started with an update to their existing logo by giving them a more modern font and bringing in a subtle 3D effect to mimic the light of the projector in every theater. This also allowed me to use their accent color in their logo to make it stand out from their previous black and white iteration.
The site itself opens with a large photo representing a few of the movies currently showing on a slider. Most films have great, high-resolution photography so this was an easy choice to really sell the experience. I updated the gradient background from their previous site to a flat black look to really make the photography jump off the screen, much like it does in a dark theater.
When coming up with a solution for how to display the movies themselves, using the posters seemed like an obvious choice. Movie posters are designed to be eye-catching, show the big stars, and give just enough information that the viewer knows what it is looking at. I used posters throughout the entire site as a wayfinding system to get the user where they needed to be.
As a viewer interacts with the poster they are given the tangible feeling of three-dimensional space by layering film information. As the film details comes up from a user’s click, the background blurs, but can be seen off in the distance as if far away or behind a pane of privacy glass. They can learn more about the current selection, save the film if they are logged in, or jump right into buying tickets for their preferred movie time.
A large part of the solution for Sarasota Film Society was making it easy for their staff to update the content daily. To do this, an API from The Movie Database (TMDb), was used. TMDb is a crowd-sourced community that provides studio and film imagery used in leading entertainment applications and entertainment consoles. By utilizing this resource, the staff had access to a customized search system that would automatically pull in assets, trailers, and reviews as the Film Society added new films to the site. This became a “one-stop shop” for all of their assets, keeping them from having to go to multiple locations or track down studio approved content themselves.
The focus on a mobile-friendly design was critical as many audience members decide spontaneously if they want to see a movie, or even driving to the theater. They need pertinent information quickly, like movie times, directions, and even purchasing tickets.
The Sarasota Film Society was very open to change and was excited to implement these new standard practices into their daily routine. Being able to call each film easily in the backend of the site was a huge step up from their previous method of scouring the Internet, which meant they had more time to spend on promotions, special events, and working the theater.
This site is one of my favorites, not just because of the content, but because I was able to really explore my deep love of movies and the visual experience of movies. And not only was I able to do that, but I was able to really rethink how people go to the movies and bring that experience to the digital home of the Sarasota Film Society.