“The Battle of Comm Ave” Poster & DVD Design

Mid-August we received an email out of the blue from a potential new client. By mid-September, we had created disk artwork, a DVD entrapment and a movie poster. And on October 14, we received our advance copy of The Battle of Comm Ave. Shortly after that, many will get to view the film on NESN and the NHL Network. It’s been a whirlwind project, but it’s been a fun project to say the least. 3thought attended an Boston AIGA lecture with Brian Collins a few weeks ago. Brian started the lecture by asking “what is design”? He challenged the conventional answer that design is problem solving. Instead he told us that he believed design was about story telling. Upon reflection, we realized that within the first 5 minutes of our very first conversation with Director Matt Fults, we knew this project wasn’t about problem solving. We also knew our role in this project would be to help Matt tell the story.

For those of you who might now be familiar with the story of Boston University and Boston College Hockey, Matt sums it up as “For more than 90 years these two college hockey rivals located on the same street have battled for supremacy. This new film chronicles the historic 91-year tussle between Boston College and Boston University.”

Charged with the task of telling this nearly century long story in one image, 3thought began with some heavy lifting in the thought department. We knew we wanted to capture the passion of the rivalry. We wanted to create a piece of static art that gave you a glimpse of the story and also gave you the feel that this was something bigger. The feeling of an epic rivalry, but with the simplexity of a symbol.

We started with our briefing phone call and some chatting about goals and deadlines. Matt sent over a few early clips from the movie, and we got to experience the mood he was setting. The sounds of Celtic music, quotes from players and coaches and video of each team battling against the other. We knew from there, if  we wanted to successfully tell this story, we needed to do more research. We started with what we knew already, what Matt had told us, made a few phone calls and the rest came from the internet. It’s amazing what  you can find there.

After research, we looked for inspiration. Whether it came from typefaces, photography or other movie posters, we gathered these items and created rough sketches. A few days later, we took a ride into Boston to shoot reference photography. If you know Boston, you probably know that BU and BC are located on Commwealth Ave, and that the Green Line runs parallel and serves as a symbolic line of demarcation between the schools. BU on one side, BC on the other. So, on that trip to Boston we snapped a few shots of the Boston College train as it passed by the Boston University Campus T stop, figuring they would come in handy.

The concept that kept resonating with us was “BATTLE.” We kept looking for ways to illustrate a war-like scenario with a hockey overlay. We looked a ton of movie posters for war films.We wanted an image that would capture that epic feeling. Ultimately, we presented 4 hand-drawn concepts for Matt’s review.

Matt selected the concept on the bottom right. This idea hit on many themes expressed in the movie: that the rivalry was bigger than the schools – bigger than the students; Boston was a central character in the story; the players became larger than life figures – almost god-like. We went to work with the execution.

With the Green Line Trolley now our symbol of Comm Ave, we chose to flank it with a variety of iconic Boston landmarks and buildings to continue to tell the story. We chose a BU tower, BC’s Gasson Hall, Aganis Arena, Conte Forum and the Citgo sign to represent each school. We also knew the rivalry was bigger than just the two schools. It encompassed the city of Boston as a whole. Boston itself has been knicknamed The Hub of Hockey. With that in mind we chose to incorporate a composite skyline showing the city from two directions. Next on the plate was the players. Simple and subdued was where this was headed. Two players from each were chosen. One to represent winning, and the other to represent taking shots across Comm Ave at each other. Another symbol for the Battle that’s been taking place for all these years.

Throw in bold headline text to draw attention. Add a little ice and skating effects along with some Celtic fonts to tie into Boston’s Irish heritage and the movies Celtic music and you have yourself a movie poster. Wrap things up with a DVD entrapment and disk art. Send them via FTP to Utah for printing and voila.

It sounds easy when you wrap it up like that, and believe me they don’t all go like this. All together a fine job all around. We worked with a lot of great people who helped make it easy for us.


First and foremost, a big thank you to Matt Fults of Rival Films. Thank you for this opportunity. Your willingness to be different and stand out, inspires us and pushes us to be better. Thank you for letting us flex our artistic muscles and encourage us to explore without preconceived ideas of what a hockey poster should look like. We appreciate all the facebook and twitter pub too. We’re looking forward to working with you again soon. DVD goes on sale 11/1/09 and airs on NESN 11/25/09. Makes a great gift! View the second trailer here.

Chris Madsen of Square Pixel. Printer, pixel pusher and fellow entrepreneur. The printing looks fantastic!

John Kline of Reebok. It was a pleasure working with you as well. Thank you Reebok for your sponsorship. 8.0.8 o stick makes us wish we played hockey. High fives all around!

Tim Clark from Boston College. Add this to the list of great work we’ve done over the past few years. We really can’t thank you enough for the referral. Top notch job as always! Thanks for all the great photos.

Thank you to our new friend at Boston University Kat Hasenauer. A big advocate for her school, college hockey and quite the sports blogger extraordinaire. Check out her blog “…on being a sports girl“. Good stuff on there. Thanks for all your help!

Go buy the DVD, or watch on NESN! Our logo is in the credits!

-m&s