Working for an entertainment design agency is a dream for a lot of graphic designers out there. Designing a poster or a collector's edition package for a movie is always a fun assignment, but how can you make it a "portfolio worthy" piece and start a career in the movie industry?
It can be extremely hard to get a job in an entertainment design agency when you don't have much experience in this area. Although most designers in this situation only have unpublished work in their portfolios, you can still succeed in a job interview with your personal key art explorations. Select the pieces that highlight your creative process with color choices, typography, software skills, use of space, textures, depth, etc. Even if you have never designed key art (main art for the movie marketing campaign) that has been used for any mainstream released films, you can still add some production value to your comps to make it look like a real professional piece.
The advantage in creating your own posters or packaging for your portfolio is that you're not restrained to a creative brief and you can pretty much put your ideas to life with no restrictions at all. There are a few movie posters trends that you should be aware of, like floating heads, mosaic faces, blue for earth/nature related movies, black and orange for action, etc. Although it's important to know them, you can really impress a creative director during a job interview by showing a different creative approach to what's currently released. Not all movies have great innovative ideas for their graphics, in most cases due to budget and time, but if you can show your ability to successfully think outside the box, you have a good chance of getting noticed.
It's also very important to add some production value to your pieces. This means making sure all details of your poster are as realistic as possible. For example using correct movie poster size ratio, placing or creating your own billing block, adding studio logos, rating bugs, etc can all add to the realism and make it look very professional. It's impressive how some small details can give it that extra touch.
Another element to be mindful of is how the artwork is presented. In some cases it might be convenient to simply present the poster as is, maybe mounted on a board, but to really take your finished masterpiece that you've spent so much time working to perfect to the next level, try mocking it up to a real life scenario. Photoshop the poster on a bus shelter or a lightbox (may get some extra photoshop skill points on that one as well). Depending on how many pieces you have, you can create a scene with different elements of your campaign in one image: posters on buildings, bus wraps, billboards, bench ads, etc. It's great to show that you're able to create multiple elements in different sizes based on the same movie art campaign.
If you're showing DVD, Blu-ray™ or Special Packaging concepts, make sure to create a nice beauty shot of it. That's when you mock up or photograph all the packaging elements like they were standing on a flat surface, showing front and back art of the case, or maybe even adding disc labels and gift with purchase and/or booklets. Entertainment Design agencies put a lot of effort on how they present their ideas to clients and you'll get lots of extra points if they see you care about that as well. Just like with movie posters, you also wanna add those production details that make it look like a real piece. In this case bar codes, billing block, logos and tile treatment on spine, movie specs and synopsis on the back, etc. Compare it to an existing movie packaging out there and check all the production details you can bring to yours as well.
If you want to work for an Entertainment Design agency you have to start somewhere and these companies do in fact look for juniors for their teams. Make sure you show them your best work and that you're capable of executing clever ideas and present them as realistically as possible.