Cryptic Clues for These Cinematic Classics – Can You Crack Them?

“Like most illustrators, I started making drawings as a kid and just kept at it” Paul Rogers tells The Plus, speaking of the illustration career that led to his creation of the new cinematic puzzle-book Name That Movie. Comprising a cryptic catalogue of some of the most striking and overlooked scenes in top films, as selected by Paul himself, the book is an illustrated ode to the hidden iconic moments of cinema.

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In it, a sparing number of simple illustrations are created for each chosen movie, spotlighting not the most famous scenes or actors, but the most nigglingly memorable images and moments. It’s a labour of love, skill, and a great many hours in front of the silver screen.

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As a young illustrator hoping to one day see his images in print, Paul switched from his art school advertising degree to major in illustration, and since then has continued to work in the San Francisco area. His labours have been bearing continuous fruit, including a number of book covers and commissioned work for publications, but Name That Movie is perhaps most interesting in its being a commission that followed the success of an entertaining series of online posts.

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We caught up with Paul to talk over the appeal of puzzles and the hook of the image…

The Plus: What first got you thinking about these sorts of visual puzzles?
Paul Rogers:
I had the idea one day when I was watching Chinatown for about the twentieth time. During the scene when Jack Nicholson places two watches under the tyre of a car so he’ll know when the car moved, I thought that if I did a drawing of a tyre and two watches, then people like me who love the movie would know the reference. That led me to thinking that maybe a series of drawings would make a fun, visual quiz.

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TP: And what sparked the book itself?
PR:
I’m on a collective blog called Drawger with about 50 other illustrators, and I started posting these series of drawings from films I liked and labeled them “Name That Movie.” The postings got popular, and eventually Chronicle Books called to see if I’d like to make a book.

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TP: You have said that a lot of Hitchcock features in this book – why is that?
PR:
Hitchcock is one of my favourite directors, and he was such a great visual storyteller; there are so many iconic images from his films that stick in my mind. The difficult part with his films was choosing which six images to draw out of the many possibilities. Since I was avoiding portraits of movie stars, some other (character-based) movies were more of a challenge in terms of finding something to draw that didn’t make the puzzle too easy for the reader.

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TP: Did the way you approached making these images differ from you other illustration projects?
PR:
I did all of these drawings in a sketchbook, sitting on my sofa in front of a TV. That’s not my usual studio set-up. Also, I didn’t have a client while I was compiling these drawings so I just drew whatever I liked. Once Chronicle was involved, we added a few films to round out the collection and eliminated a few movies that no one would ever guess; obscure films like Pickup on South Street didn’t make the book. The puzzles avoid the obvious images that would make the game too easy, but with most of these if you haven’t seen the film then it’s going to be tough to guess the title.

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TP: Any recent films you’d really like to do these puzzles for?
PR:
There are a lot of them: every picture by the Coen Brothers or Wes Anderson is filled with great things to draw. Woody Allen’s last picture about Hollywood, Cafe Society, was full of great images.

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TP: Would you do a similar project for things other than films?
PR:
I’m just now finishing up a new book called Name That Show with the same format, except using TV shows. There’s a mix of old and new shows starting with “The Honeymooners” and going right up to “Stranger Things.” It should be out in Spring 2017.

TP: Any other upcoming projects that you’d like to share with us?
PR:
There may be a “Name That Movie Part 2″ in the works.

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Name That Movie is available now from Chronicle Books and you can find all answers in the book.