Cover Justin Besana

If you're looking for the genius mind behind the trending poster of ABS-CBN's new series 'The Broken Marriage Vow', you might be surprised to know that he also crafted the posters of many of our favourite films and web series of recent years, as well as digitally restored and remastered Filipino classics

Perhaps one of the best surprises that welcomed graphic artist Justin Besana on the coming of the New Year was his poster for ABS-CBN’s adaptation of The World of Married becoming a viral topic on social media. Not only did it elevate the buzz of the Filipino iteration of the UK original series Doctor Foster, nor had fans praise the magnanimity of Jodi Sta. Maria’s acting chops albeit in a poster, but the name of Justin Besana also made the news.

Besana was an advertising graduate and freelancer when Jayson Sarmiento of Star Cinema messaged him via Facebook. He was asked to do the poster for the comedy flick Praybeyt Benjamin. Star Cinema hired him afterwards and he did the poster for Ishmael Bernal’s Himala that was being restored by the ABS-CBN Film Restoration. Its head, Leo Katigbak, absorbed him into his team then after while retaining his freelance work. Eventually, Besana would be doing arrestingly beautiful film posters for restored and remastered classics. He would also be tapped for side projects like posters for indie and mainstream films, as well as content for over-the-top (OTT) platforms like iWant, and just recently, YouTube and Viu.

Tatler Asia
Above ABS-CBN's "The Broken Marriage Vow" series' poster

On the topic of the poster of The Broken Marriage Vow, Besana shared to Tatler that the response of the people came as a surprise because of the large scale of the said franchise, not to mention its Korean version’s popularity in the country. He resorted to adding an “easter egg” into the posterthe bloody roseand other symbolisms, which makes it unique from its predecessors. To top it all off, all eyes were on Jodi Sta Maria, her energy, and emotions added impact to the poster.

What have you discovered about your own identity as an artist?

I think I am transformativeeither I influence people or people influence meand that greatly affects my artwork. It humbles me to witness people smile when they look at our posters or they want to get a hold of them. . .There are celebrities on the poster, yes, but beyond that, posters creating that impact is a testament to art becoming a memento.

Above Step-by-step process of creating the poster of 'The Broken Marriage Vow'

What is your philosophy on your kind of art?

Every story is worth telling. This applies to artworks as well—every story has its one-sheet visual that is worth seeing, one that represents our society and a bigger world beyond our understanding. I find it exhilarating to translate the journey and background of different characters into a one-sheet visual.

How does a poster contribute to the marketing of a show?

I believe posters are objective and their purpose is to sell the movies. Posters are the “face” of films. It’s fascinating how a poster can evoke emotions and encourage people to buy tickets/subscriptionsthat’s how powerful a poster is!

What fuels your creativity? 

Most of the time it’s either I read the script or watch the material first before doing the poster. Knowing the core of the story is important as that jumpstarts the whole design process. It gives me the liberty to explore more creative possibilities and enables me to strategise the best possible route to market the film.

Read also: 'Gameboys': Raymund Isaac on His Witty Take on the Filipino BL Sensation

Posters creating impact is a testament of art becoming a memento
Justin Besana

What challenged you the most?

It is when my creative work doesn’t give justice to the material. I know that people have different opinions and it’s always a constant battle with myself to accept that we cannot please everyone. Another one, perhaps, is when I have consecutive projects having similar elements. It's my obligation to highlight each of their uniqueness.

Tatler Asia
Above Locarno Film Festival entry "Kun Maupay Man It Panahon"

What are your tips or myths to debunk for other artists who aspire to create posters?

Equip yourself with a myriad of creative skills because it will enable you to adapt to different design problems. Exposing oneself to different films or series can improve your visual storytelling. Also, if you really want to pursue a career in filmmaking as a designer, you must be collaborative. I know most of us creatives are introverts so talking to people is a challenge. In fact, one of my struggles, when I was just starting, was becoming anxious when talking to people (laughs).

Movie posters are not just a byproduct of an artist—it’s a byproduct of the whole team (actors, director, writer, photographer, cinematographer, marketing people, and so on). It’s imperative for us to put our best foot forward.

If there’s one myth to debunk, I'd say that doing movie posters is an easy task—get a film still and put a title. It might be effective sometimes but it’s definitely more tedious than what most people think. Oftentimes, you would want to go beyond and explore more creative ways to present the story to your audience.

Read more: ABS-CBN Film Archives: The Process, Challenges, and Rewards of Film Restoration

Tatler Asia
Above Globe Studios' "Hintayan ng Langit" film's poster

Film posters have been iconic ever since especially in the '80s and further back. But for some time, the fascination of people on this was lost and the style of film posters changed as well. With streaming platforms being part of our normal entertainment digest, there has also been a resurgence of film posters, serving as cover art for them on these platforms. Do you agree? What's your take on this?

I definitely agree. I think there is a resurgence of film posters because there is more content provided to the audience. OTT is a great platform for content creators and the possibilities are endless—just as stories are limitless. Technology also now provides algorithms helpful to the marketing team. It identifies various audiences and their equivalent creative strategy—meaning there is an appropriate artwork for each market. Thus, more posters are being produced.


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  • ImagesJustin Besana / ABS-CBN Film Archives
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