The premiere of Crackle's new original legal drama "Sequestered" is in less than three weeks and the Sony-owned digital network has released an intense promo art (see picture on the right), as well as a synopsis and an exciting first trailer. The new poster, which promotes the August 5 premiere, features fourteen people sitting or standing around a table.
But a movie or TV poster is not just a pretty picture featuring the actors; studio-generated movie/series posters are generally governed by the rules of marketing (though the name order is determined according to the billing order, so it's contract-bound). In this article, I will try to decipher the clues provided by the studio and make sure the viewer gets the proper idea of the upcoming miniseries. Let us together examine what can be deduced about the characters and tone of the series from this crowded poster.
Note: I started writing this article before Crackle released the first official trailer. As a result, parts of this article have been rewritten in the light of the new informations brought by the newly-released trailer. Clearly, the trailer gives a better overview of the plots and the relationships betwen characters than a static poster. Still, there's a few interesting things to say about it.
First of all, let's put a name on the faces of the fourteen actors featured in this poster. Here's the list of the actors (with the franchise I most associate them with personally) and a close up of the poster. I was able to identify all fourteen actors, subject to error.
A. Robert Elzein | B. Heather Dubrow (Real Housewive of Orange County) | C. Katie Savoy | D. Chris Ellis | E. James Maslow (Dancing With the Stars) | F. Bruce Davison (X-MEN) | G. Trevor Torseth | H. Leroy Edwards III | I. Ryan McPartlin (Chuck) | J. Summer Glau | K. Jesse Bradford | L. Yetide Badaki | M. Patrick Warburton (Rules of Engagement) |N. Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers)
And now I would like to give a few informations, on who plays what role in Sequestered.
We'll assume some of the fourteen actors featured in the poster are members of the jury (a jury usually consists of twelve members); according to the synopsys, Patrick Warburton (M) is the father of the victim, while Jesse Bradford (K) is the attorney in charge of the case and Summer Glau is Anna, a jury member. The man in a suit leaning over Bradford's shoulder, namely Chris Ellis, plays Bradford's superior.
While it is not mentioned in the sysnopsys, Dina Meyer (N) plays Helen Bennett, Warburton's wife in the series. Bradford mentioned online that Bruce Davison (F) plays his father, and the first trailer confirms it. We have no precise information on Dancing With The Star's James Maslow (E) or Ryan McPartlin (I)'s role at this stage. McPartlin plays a juror, while Maslow seem to help Bradford in his investigation (as a computer genius or a reporter?). In her own words Real Houseviwes of Orange County's Heather Dubrow (B) plays a juror, who is a bitter woman, and I have no doubt that her character will bring troubles to the show, just like what she does on RHOC.
Let's talk about the black atmosphere created by the poster and how the characters are depicted in the poster.
The darkness of the poster will immediately gain your attention, which is not surprising considering Sequestered is a drama and the jurors deal with a murder trial. The premise of the show irresistibly recalls the 1957 film "12 Angry Men", starring Henry Fonda; however, Sydney Lumet's "12 Angry Men" takes place almost entirely in the jury room, while production stills for Sequestered and the trailer show the action takes place in many different locations throughout the 12 episodes.
The darkness of the poster also evokes the stylish Hollywood crime dramas known as "film noirs", although this kind of movies usually emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Surely, the presence of many beautiful women among the cast - and I'm not just talking about those featured in the poster - allows many relationships, preferably non-marital because that what's makes good dramas. For what we know of Sequestered, the murder of a 8 year-old boy has "major national political implications" and it will come as no surprise to anyone that the series has many surprises and dramatic turn of events in store, as suggested in the trailer. All the more so the format - a 12 episodes TV series - allows more sub plots and characters development than a 2 hours movie.
And now let's take a closer look at the characters featured in the poster. Hardly anybody is looking directly at anyone else, and there are side-eye glares to spare. Obviously, the characters develop contentious relationships. Clearly, this heavy atmosphere has ramification that reach well beyond a disagreement over "guilty or not guilty", as seen in the trailer.
If you're wondering what is excatly the weight of the character played by your favorite actor/actress, all you have to do is see how they're placed on the poster. Summer Glau and Patrick Warburton are placed front and center, confirming their leading status on the show. Jesse bradfor is placed slightly lower in comparison but you'll notice his face is well lit compared to the other actors around him; obviously, it is made to reflect the fact he is one of the leading actors. More, you'll notice he's the only one who is looking directly at the camera, which means the series follows his journey as he tries to discover the truth.
And of course the poster lists the name of these three primary actors at the top.
Also you'll notice that the actors are not placed at random in relation to each other. Each actor is "paired" with the actor he shares a lot of screen time with. For example, Dina Meyer is placed right behind his on-screen husband Patrick Warburton; similarly, Ryan McParlin is placed right behind Summer Glau, with whom he has many scenes (including a scene where things are begining to get serious between them). The people placed on both sides of Jesse Bradford, namely Chris Ellis, Katie Savoy, James Maslow and Bruce Davison are directly connected to Bradford's character, as shown in the trailer. I'm not sure if Heather Dubrow's character can be paired with another, and the trailer doesn't seem to provide further informations.
James Maslow mentioned on Twitter he filmed a few days and that will be spread out in several different episodes. As an aside, Crackle understood very well that they could take advantage of his huge following.
Lastly, an interesting observation.
On the occasion of the Sequestered photoshoot, crew members have posted photos where you can the see the official Sequestered t-shirt, with the inscription "SEQUESTERED" and "GUILTY".
While we can't be sure, we may assume that the stylised font used for the inscription would be later used on art work such as a promo poster. However, the font used in the current poster is very different. Most troubling is that their font is identical to the font I used when I make my own promo poster, weeks before Crackle released the official one. See for yourself in the collage I made below, the very characteristic squiggle from the letter Q leaves very little room for doubt; just for the record, I stretched the original inscription horizontally for the purpose of my art work, but the font is clearly identical.
Sequestered design team even took up the idea of modifying a letter with the purpose of suggesting the series deals with a trial. In my case I simply removed the letter "T" and replaced it with the picture of the wooden mallet used by a judge. In the case of Sequestered design team, they prefered to "break" the letter "S" in two, which by the way reminds of the stylized font they initially used for the t-shirt. I must admit that their modification suggests in a very subtle manner the idea of Guilty/Not Guilty and at the same time leaves space for different interpretations. Well done!
That's it for today! Thanks for reading this long article and I hope you'll never look at a movie/TV poster the same way again.
Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below and don't miss Summer Glau in this exciting thriller when it airs on Crackle starting August 5.
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