How Michael C. Hall’s main titles have influenced me.
I walked through my apartment door in Oakland, dropped my bags in the hallway and saw my roommate binging on the Six Feet Under DVDs. She pushed play to start a new episode and I heard the distinct piano notes chime. The screen immediately sucked me in - I was standing there in awe of the main title. It was bursting with emotion, metaphor, beauty and design. I was three years into studying graphic design at CCA and this piece of design was unlike anything I had seen. I knew the nuances of typography and studied all the famous design posters in history, but motion designed hadn’t been discussed. Something and everything about the title gripped me at my core. That was a distinct moment for me - it’s like a light went on and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to my work to emotionally connect with people. I wanted my work to be a perfect fusion of story, design, sound, movement and beauty. I was inspired to be a motion designer.
After graduating I was offered the position at Digital Kitchen so I packed up my stuff and moved to my hometown, Seattle. Working at a place like DK fresh out of school was an incredible experience and huge opportunity. Everything was bigger than me. I was sitting next to some of the most talented people in the motion graphics industry (including those who created Six Feet Under) and the projects that were crossing my desk were enormous. Pitching on the main title for Dexter was one of those huge projects and opportunities. I had a fresh eye, unique perspective and a vision that perfectly captured Michael C. Hall’s character, Dexter Morgan. I remember when Paul Mattheus, the owner of DK, tapped me on the shoulder in the mosh pit, extended his hand to shake mine and said, Showtime loved your boards, they’re moving forward with your concept. Congratulations on the win. I stood there shaking his hand, a bit wide-eyed and completely unaware of how big the win really was.
The Dexter main title has been with me on my entire professional journey and was instrumental to launching my career. It was the star of many meetings and the topic of countless conversations. I’ve had people at parties totally freak out that I designed the title and then others look at me like I was crazy for such a dark idea coming out of my brain. I’ve even had people line up outside my door to hold my Emmy (seriously). I love what I do and it’s a big part of who I am so being able to talk about my work without pulling out my phone to show my reel is gratifying. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to create work that emotionally connected to people but I never thought my work would emotionally connect me with people. Being part of this title has led me to conversations with amazing individuals that I would have never talked to otherwise.
Good motion design is a powerful and complex thing. It’s a delicate craft that requires precision, balance, vision and lots of people to execute. It can tug at your heart strings, twist your nerves and rattle your cage. Even though the Dexter title made people feel disgusted, violated or scared, it made them feel something, and for me, that was huge. Those feelings are what made them remember it and want to talk about it. It gave audiences the opportunity to get inside the mind of Dexter and it prepared them to watch each episode. It was his morning routine for 8 years and ultimately became part of the show. To be part of something that big, even in the smallest way was incredible.
The life and impact of a title is largely determined by the success of a series. Both Six Feet Under and Dexter were masterfully written, beautifully produced and perfectly acted which made people care about the characters and want more. Both shows also provided the design community with the opportunity to develop iconic opening title sequences that deeply resonated with people. I feel like I need to thank Michael C. Hall for being part of the 2 series that made a profound impact on my career. Six Feet Under inspired me to start my career and Dexter was the catalyst that launched it. For those reasons I am grateful.
I'm looking forward to seeing Dexter: New Blood on Showtime in the fall of 2021.