Watch the Titles

The Number 23

Michelle Dougherty, Imaginary Forces (2006)

“We wanted to tell a bit of the story of how the number 23 is a recurring number throughout history,” explains title director Michelle Dougherty, one of the artistic directors at Imaginary Forces. “I wanted people to feel a little uncomfortable. By creating tension with the titles, you understand that this is not going to be a tame movie.” We asked Michelle about her passion for directing main titles.

What makes a perfect title sequence?

Michelle Dougherty: “A perfect title sequence either tells a back story, sets a mood/tone or foreshadows something in the film. Giving something to the audience that allows them to have an emotional response would probably be the perfect title to me. I also believe in appropriateness vs. superfluousness. Some filmmakers choose to have simple titles for their films and they work.”

Do you think that title design is an art form in itself?

MD: “Yes, I believe that title sequence design can be an art in itself. The form of the main title should be born out of the content but in doing so, it can stimulate the senses, the mind and soul.”

Compared to a decade ago, we see a lot more movies with interesting Main Titles, including independent films. What’s your view on this?

MD: “They’re easier to produce and more people are proficient at the tools to make them so you have a growing number of options and people contributing. What Macintosh’s desktop publishing did to print has been happening to animation and editing. Not so long ago when everything, or most titles, were done optically, the limitations were so much greater. You had to think smarter, at least in your solutions, in your process. Now we have all these avenues that allow us to do so many things, but to create something that has some sort of meaning, that moves you is still challenging.”

What artists, filmmakers or designers have influenced or inspired you?

“Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Moholy Nagy, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Jan Tsichold, Robert Brownjohn, Cy Twombly, Joseph Muller Brockman, Christopher Doyle, Claude Debussy, Pablo Ferra Maurice Binder, Oskar Fischinger, Tim Hawkinson are just a few of my influences…”


Studio Daily has a great in-depth interview with Dougherty about the title design process for The Number 23.

Year of production


About Michelle Dougherty

Michelle Dougherty is an Emmy-winning designer and an art director who worked with Imaginary Forces. At IF she worked closely with Kyle Cooper for many years. “I was a designer, then art director on his team,” says Dougherty. “I consider him my mentor.” Dougherty studied at the Art Center College of Design, a leading graphic and industrial design college located in Pasadena, California. She also teaches a class there called Motion Communication.

More about Michelle Dougherty

Full credits

Design & Production (titles)
Imaginary Forces (IF)
IF Creative Director

Peter Frankfurt
IF Director/Art director
Michelle Dougherty
IF Producer
Steiner Kierce, Kathy Kelehan
IF Designer
Juan Monasterio, Rob Bolick
IF 2D Animator
Juan Monasterio, Sean Koriakin, Andrew Hoevler, Magnus Hierta
IF Editor
Danielle White
IF Flame Artist
Rod Basham, Nick Rubenstein
IF Coordinator
Joe Denk, Heather Dennis
Production Company (film)
New Line Cinema
Joel Schumacher


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