Phasma Ex Machina

Phasma Ex Machina explores the grey area between life and death and how we reconcile these losses. After the death of his parents, Cody plunges himself into the fringe science of the supernatural and invents a machine he intends to be a conduit between the other side. He becomes increasingly preoccupied with this goal and begins ignoring his responsibilities to work, life and his younger brother. But the real problems come when it works. This story of holding on to grief and the consequences of obsession was fertile ground for a poster concept. After many ideas I decided to focus on the bondage of his creation - the machine - and loneliness of the aftermath.

This poster is hand screen printed in limited edition and helped get the film programmed in festivals and even some extra attention from winning an AIGA Design Award

The print is metallic ink on metallic paper so the image can be lost in a glare - making it even more ethereal. 

Role: Concept, Design, Screenprinting
Photographer: Clark Patrick
Agency: THEY design for film
Award: AIGA Design Show 


For the execution I tested my wire-theory on the mannequin at THEY's studio & then promptly tangled Sasha Andreev up in phosphorescent wire. We shot with the wonderful photographer Clark Patrick at his studio. Everyone was a great sport about the whole thing as we directed Sasha to strike poses ranging from God and Adam in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to a marionette. Finally the mood we wanted was found in the solitary pose on the poster today. 

Here are several early proofs:

As you can see the the original visual treatment was to be the inversion of the photos. In this style the illuminated wires are inverted, so they seem to radiate blackness in an ethereal world. 

But the director was wise to focus on the dark nature of the story and request the opposite.

Jon Maichel Thomas from Studio Collective animated the title credits and co-produced the film. He also oversaw this project from their end and was excellent to work with. Jon continually pushed me and my design to be cleaner, stronger and tighter insuring that the concept was king. In the final round we all had a tough time deciding between the final and this alternative:


I hand silk screen printed 100 posters using our then-freshly-built screen printing vacuum table which was constructed by my good friend, the ever creative and kind, Lucas Shank of Lucas Brand Co. They are printed with silver metallic ink on thick metallic black paper. Because of the shiny combo you can lose the image entirely in a glare - we love this and think it adds a necessary mystical feeling to the print. 

I loved being involved with Phasma Ex Machina & working with the team. It's one of my favorite pieces I've created and are honored to have been selected as a winner in the AIGA Design Contest.

Thanks to Chris Sheehan's Shelter Studio for hosting the AIGA show.

The posters are up for sale on THEY's Poster Store.  

And here's the big metal cube to celebrate: