Netflix has proven it’s possible to get incredibly granular when breaking down different types of films. But before the streaming service offered such classic search faves as “mind-bending,” “stoners,” “race-against-time,” and “nightmare vacations,” IMDB was using more traditional terms—think animation, horror, and western—to rank the flicks on their site.
Martin Kruusimägi has always been a cinema aficionado: “To paraphrase a character from my latest obsession, Boardwalk Empire, ‘for a small period of time they make us forget who we are and where we are.” So the Estonian-born, U.K.-based creative behind Young Ant Studio set out to illustrate IMDB’s top 50, by genre.
Drama (Is) King represents a “synthesis of ideas” and an evolution for Kruusimägi. He developed the general structure for a previous project involving a university client, which documented members and their respective research fields—not exactly swashbuckling adventure flick or sci-fi epic material, but the form was enough to inspire this new incarnation. He went by IMDB’s official list, which is compiled by user votes (view it here, then debate what they got horribly, inexcusably wrong in the comments) to keep things consistent. “While a fan, my cinematographic knowledge would fall far short if I was to categorize them myself,” he tells Co.Design. “There would be a single blue blob there on the right-hand side.”
When he started out, he had no idea what the breakdown would be, so it took some analysis to parse through the results. Due to the large amount of data, he experimented with a few different angles and tiers to even out the proportions and get the semicircles feeling balanced. The toughest part, in fact, was perfecting the small icons that represent each of the titles, despite the fact that he had actually seen most of the entries. “Not all of the movie posters were familiar to me, so when I was making the stylized versions of them I did encounter surprises,” he says. “Surprises coupled with bursts of anger at the number of characters they decided to put in the Lord of the Rings posters.” Damn you, Aragorn!
The movie-loving public, however, is nothing if not fickle. Despite their consistent, undying devotion to the Godfather and Shawshank Redemption, there’s always some movement when tastes ebb and flow: In the six months between when Kruusimägi started and finished, the inventory had shifted. “I had to go back to redesign the breakdown and every line in the piece,” he says. The compendium’s a bit like a box of chocolates in that way—you never know what you’re gonna get.