Dezeen Magazine

Nicolas Winding Refn creates neon-lit warehouse as ident for MUBI films

A warehouse filled by pink and blue light features in this visual identity that Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn has designed for movie streaming service and distributor MUBI.

The 10-second ident pans through a digitally rendered warehouse space, which is illuminated by seven large spherical balls that align to form the logo for the arthouse-movie-streaming platform. Sound builds throughout the ident, climaxing as the balls come together and the word MUBI fills the screen.

Refn, who is best known as the director of the movie Drive, was commissioned by MUBI founder Efe Cakarel to create the bespoke ident, to feature in the opening credits of all of the company's movie releases.

Cakarel describes Refn as both "a friend of MUBI and a cult director among the MUBI audience".

"People like Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson and Nicolas are the reason MUBI exists, because of their films," said Cakarel. "The result is that we attract these people too; MUBI is like the restaurant that chefs go to."

Cakarel saw the ident as a means to identify the brand with theatrical film releases, which it ventured into for the first time last year.

"We bought the film that won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale and I thought at that point, I need a studio ident for this film," Cakarel told Dezeen. "I wanted to build our brand and associate MUBI with the theatrical release."

The brief was to create something that, even on its own, would make people want to watch MUBI films. "The example I gave to Nicolas in my brief was the roaring MGM lion. It is such a cult thing and I wanted my own roaring lion," said Cakarel.

Cakarel ask Nicolas to use his "craziest signature colours". Despite being colour-blind himself, the director has become known for flooding his films with high-contrast colours.

In response, Refn worked with London-based creative agency All City Media to design and digitally render the warehouse, which glows pink and blue as the logo aligns. The early storyboards show a figure standing in the warehouse but in the final version, the warehouse is deserted.

Refn collaborated with producer and composer Julian Winding on the sound. Cakarel said Nicolas intended to create a sound that shook the theatre: "It doesn't do it justice on YouTube, but when you experience it in surround-sound in the theatre, you really feel it."

The director told Dezeen the process was tremendously satisfying: "We are making a small step in helping Efe shape his future movie platform for the next generation".

The ident will be shown in cinemas for the first time during this year's BFI London Film Festival, which runs until 15 October. MUBI are releasing two films at the festival: Chinese animated movie Have A Nice Day by Liu Jian and Alain Gomis' African film Félicité, which was awarded the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.

Project credits:

Creative direction: Nicolas Winding Refn
Producer: All City Media
Sound: Julian Winding
Thanks to: Bureau, London