Training Day


an exclusive report by graphic designer Snow Dowd

My partner Robert and I had worked with producer Jeffrey

Silver, while we were living in Toronto – creating artwork and graphics and

video screens that were used on the set for a small WB movie called Gossip.

(If you have seen the movie, Robert created most of the stuff that was made

by the “multimedia artist” character named Travis.) We were also contracted

to create an “underground” web site for the film that included a lot of

video and audio collages…because it was “unofficial” but endorsed by the

producer and WB Online we were able to use nearly any material in any way

that we wanted on the site.

Jeff contacted us early in the production stages of Training Day to start

brainstorming on the look and feel for the web site. We did a lot of visual

research on grafitti art, tattoos, custom guns and low-rider cars. We were

especially interested in those cultural artifacts that might be consistent

or overlapping in both cop and gangster culture. We interviewed “Bone” Sloan

who worked on the film as the gang consultant (he has been in gangs for most

of his life and recently completed a documentary about the history of gang

culture in Los Angeles) – we found that the tough inner-city cops often had

unofficial logos much like gang signs and that both cops and gang members

were motivated by fierce (if misguided) notions of loyalty, dedication to a

cause and a desire to prove themselves worthy by any means necessary.

We created a series of concept boards – collages that included key visuals

that represented the research we had done and that gave an impressionof

the colors and images that would be supportive of the film’s theme and

location…in addition to the elements already mentioned, these included sun

and moon time-lapse images, layered maps of Los Angeles streets and photos

of the Monte Carlo that was going to be used in the film as Alonzo’s


These concept boards were discussed with the director (Antoine Fuqua) and

the production designer (Naomi Shohan) and we then put together a “look

book” of images and ideas that were distributed to some of the musicians who

were contributing to the soundtrack as a way for them to get into the mood

and themes of the film.

We then began work on the designs and content for the web site…this was an intense process overseen by Don Buckley of Warner Bros. Online. We designed

and built the site in Flash so that it could include dynamic audio and

animation elements that would help to convey a feeling of the unique urban

and cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

Overall the experience was eye-opening for us, at the beginning we were

hesitant about even working on a project that seemed to have a strong focus

on gangs…but as we learned more about the long history and the complex

culture of cops and gangs in Los Angeles, we began to see overarching themes

of loyalty, justice, and strength that were tied directly to the more

general human struggle with morality.

As new residents of Los Angeles, it was also a wonderful opportunity to gain

an appreciation for the rich visual landscape that reflects LA’s

multicultural and often chaotic core. Visiting some of the inner-city

locations and seeing the beautiful photographs taken by Robert Zuckerman* of

people who lived in those areas (many of whom worked on the film, either as

extras or as security people), gave us a new perspective on parts of the

city that we might not have explored otherwise.

by Snow Dowd
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