John Wells Productions
Directed by Erin Sarofsky
Live Action
Main Title Sequence
Concept Creation
Motion Design
Kinetic Type

Animal Kingdom

When John Wells and Jonathan Lisco reached out to us for the title sequence of their family-crime drama series, Animal Kingdom they had one big ask:  Look beyond the surface of the show to explore the roots of the Cody clan’s crazy-bad behavior. If you can show that in 60-seconds, said Wells, the title sequence will become an iconic representation for the entire series. 

Getting Below The Surface

Peeling back the skin on the show to reveal the roots of the Cody clan’s crazy-bad behavior, we saw that the complexity of the characters– the tension, dark humor, love and codependency of their interactions, all stem from family matriarch Janine “Smurf” Cody’s messed-up (and even Oedipal) bond with her boys. 

Looking for the right concept to communicate this, we honed in on an episode where Smurf gets a tattoo. That tattoo, and the actual tattooing procedure were the perfect symbols for Smurf’s imprint on her boys. Permanent, painful, poison, she’s literally injected herself under their skins.

Shooting the making of a tattoo in extreme slow-motion close-up, we captured the rippling pucker and dimple of skin as the needle moved in and out. Black ink pooling with every stitch, a fat heart swells in the needle’s wake, the boys’ names curled around it.

In between the tattoo scenes, we wove imagery that relates to the boys’ childhood and their transition to fully realized men. A worm wriggles on a fishhook. A woman sucks a bright red popsicle. Meat goes through a grinder. A woman kisses a scraped knee.  All of that, plus flashes of surfing, skateboarding, fighting and lovemaking. The surfing scenes were provided by Wells, leaving us to gather the rest in a three-city, seven day shoot.  In all? We edited hundreds of hours of footage down to the finished minute-long sequence.

Turn Up the Volume and Play
Play video
Proud ♥

“We really like that Sarofsky built a narrative into their visual imagery, creating a cohesive impact with the audience. A lot of the imagery for the title sequence was symbolic and deliberately disconcerting, but it definitely left you with a specific impression.” 

The Typography

The type and design of the piece, with its textures and deconstructed compositions, is a nod to Raygun Magazine and the surfer culture of the ’90’s.

Unlike Raygun, where the editorials were more art then legible content, here we had to ensure viewers could read the names. But even still, we managed to create very nontraditional type layouts, animating them so that each had some glitches to reinforce the vibe, music and concept.

The resulting title sequence explores themes that you wouldn’t expect to see in the same place, blurring the lines between childhood emotions, adult sexuality and endorphin-inducing activities. Heightening the sense of danger and tension, we used a “stumble’ effect with the grainy footage, punctuated by fractured Helvetica-type in the titles. These stutter in time with the gritty soundtrack by Atticus Ross.

A Peek Behind The Scenes
Bonus Visuals

And here is some extra footage (RAW). Some shots are not in the cut and others are extended so you can see them with all their (300fps) high-speed glory.

Project Credits 
  • Director
    Erin Sarofsky
  • Co-director/Lead Artist
    Duarte Elvas
  • Executive Producer
    Steven Anderson
  • Creative Director
    Erin Sarofsky
  • Producer
    James Babiarz
  • Editor
  • Director of Photography
  • Additional Photography
    Michael Burke
  • Motion Designers
    Patric Coleman
  • Dominico Watson
  • Tnaya Witmer
  • Brian Schilling
  • Flame and Finishing
    Cory Davis
  • Music
Client Credits 

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