The Billing Block

Poster credits are the few lines of writing found at the bottom of a film poster. These are there due to legal contracts signed by the companies involved in the film and the cast and crew members. There are industry agreed regulations that determine what appears on the ‘billing block’, such as the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. Some of these elements are the same for every movie poster, however some may change depending on the type of film and the people involved, for example the writers and directors have to be included but the production company doesn’t necessarily need to be featured.

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The design of the typeface means two things, that the writing isn’t messy and look unpleasant and also so that everyone is credited equally and fairly. It is required by the DGA and the WGA, that the poster credits are at least 15 percent of the type font used for the title of the film. The regulations are so strict that if multiple font sizes are used in the title, an average percent is calculated.

The first title included is known as the ‘presentation credit’ which is usually the distribution company. This can be shared with other companies that the distributor is in association with, such as finance or the management star. The ‘production credit’ generally recognises the producers or directors own company, and is presented in the form of ‘A ____ Film’. Usually, there is a final ‘directed by ____’ title, but this isn’t always necessary.

Actors agents generally strive to get them into the billing block as a sign that they have been accredited for their feature in the film. Due to space however, only the key names are stated, such as the main characters of most famous actors involved. In some cases, major stars are written before the name of the film, followed by the less famous actors, or in other cases the actors are listed in alphabetical order. Actors can negotiate whether they have a ‘with’ or ‘and’ before their name, which is frequently used when a more famous actor has a less significant role. The use of the word ‘introducing’ is generally a way of introducing a new actors debut.

The order that the crew appear after the cast is generally determined by common convention, however the ‘casting by’ usually is shown first. Costumes by, edited by and production designer are always featured in the billing block, but may be in different orders. Depending on their significance, music by, original score by, stunt coordinator, special effects, visual effects and cinematographer may also be included. Honorary members of the American Society of Cinematographers and required to have the acronym ASC following their name.

Producers have no legal obligation to be featured on the billing block. The GPA governed a “truth in credits” campaign to ensure the inclusion of a produced by title. Now, organisations tend to limit three spaces to the produced by credit. Executive producers are those who have made a significant contribution to the film and therefore may also gain a credit on the poster. Co producers and associate producers are usually delegated to by the producer, and therefore are not frequently credited.

Writers are usually credited just before the director, however the number of writing credits can differ between film posters. If the film is based on another medium the credits may include ‘based on characters created by’, ‘from a novel by’, etc. The screenplay credit is given to the final script writer, and the written by credit is used if the story and the script has been produced by the same person. The WGA determines how many writers can receive credit, and that if a writing team is involved they are entitled to one credit despite how many writers are within that team.

The director is credited at the end of the billing block. The DGA prevents the use of ‘director’ being used anywhere else within the credits, apart from the titles ‘director of photography’ or ‘art director’. When a person has both written and directed the movie, the credits can be combined to ‘written and directed by ___’.

The billing block can include a range or logos and idents from various companies involved in the production of the film. The movies website and release date may also be fatured under the billing block. The ‘rating block’ (the age certificate) is usually incorporated into the billing block although it can be featured anywhere on the poster so long as all of it is legible.

 

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