A rare interview with legendary title designer Dan Perri, who created titles for everything from The Exorcist to Star Wars.

All images via Academy Originals

Academy Originals has brought us some entertaining and interesting content lately. From their sit-downs with Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands, to their featurettes on Jurassic Park and the guy who plays the alien in Alien. Their latest gives an in-depth look into the art and history of some of film’s most memorable title sequences as told by legendary title designer Dan Perri.

Perri has famously created the title sequences for over 400 film and television projects. Most notably Star Wars, Taxi Driver, The Warriors, Raging Bull and Airplane! to name a few. You can see some of his most iconic designs below.

The Art Behind Classic Movie Title Design - Star Wars Logo

The Art Behind Classic Movie Title Design - Raging Bull Title

The Art Behind Classic Movie Title Design - Days of Heaven Title

In the featurette, Perri shows off his workspace and the tools he’s used over the years. There are original relics from his Exorcist poster designs to the actual typeface used for Gangs of New York. He even includes an old, dusty file that has alternative Star Wars title designs which he had shown to George Lucas.

The Art Behind Classic Movie Title Design - Alternate Star Wars Title

While Perri eventually transitioned to digital, the majority of his work was done by hand.

Prior to the digital revolution, I used literally a pen and pencil and paper. Digitally all that is still done but just in a different way. But you have to know your tools – that’s the secret. How big will it be? What color will it be? Will it be outlined? Will it have a shadow? Those decisions are small in themselves, but collectively they make an impact.

The Art Behind Classic Movie Title Design - Perri Working

From his interview in the video, Perri looks to have partially retired or has had his work taper off since his heyday in the 70s, 80s and 90s. His personal website is still up and offers a definitive list to his historic catalog of work. Watch the video below for some creative and classic designs inspiration.


What your favorite famous title sequence? Let us know in the comments!