Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Production Boost - Teasers and Trailers

Moviegoers usually have mixed feelings when it comes to deciding on watching a movie based on its trailer. That's because trailers have the potential to be pretty misleading. Trailers can make any bad movie look good. More often than not, trailer editors usually aim to take out the jokes that didn't work, the bad acting and dialogue and cut it all down to a 2:00 minute highlight reel, showcasing only the best parts of the film. Sounds easy enough? It usually is - if you're not the filmmaker.

Experiment with the Story
You have to remember that even on a DIY movie level, the movie business - whether or not you hold the rights to your own material is still just that - a business. And although they are for the most part entertaining, trailers and teasers are to be viewed as tools - marketing tools to help sell your movie. With that said, you're going to need the most compelling trailer you can cut from your footage even if it means experimenting with your storyline for the sake of editing a fantastic sequence for the trailer.

Get creative and give moviegoers a reason to see your movie.
Get them interested and get them curious.

Of course, the more it stays within the storyline of your movie, the better. What good is your movie if people don't see it?

In a nutshell, trailers usually run long - anywhere between 2:00 - 2:30 min. These are usually the common versions that you see in theaters or online. They more often than not portray a very thorough overview of the movie; sometimes revealing too much information. They almost always feature a voice-over artist and soundbites of dialogue from the movie over different music beds. You'll find that most of these have three acts - just like in a story.

Teasers on the other hand, usually run anywhere from :15 sec to 2:00 min and don't reveal too much information. A lot of times they more image or music based.

You should be aware that with most teasers, the work appears to be easier than it is, but be ready - you could have yourself a handful just for the simple fact that you have less time to make a teaser interesting to its viewers. For example, in the Shiro's Head teaser, it's all just music and visuals. No dialogue.

I wanted to heighten and then sustain the viewer's interest at a peak, so instead of the usual 2:30 trailer like you'd find on the Apple Site I decided to cut a teaser first - leaving the viewer wanting more. Don and I have also agreed that we'd like to complement the teaser by cutting two to three additional full-length trailers for Shiro's Head.

Amazingly enough, finding the direction for the teaser wasn't the problem. But scanning through all of the scenes, watching them over and over to find the most compelling clips to connect with this one particular song...this tacked on most of the time spent during the day. We shot over 75 tapes worth of footage (including delted scene footage) so, yeah, it's a handful.

DIY Teaser/Trailer Tips:


Try not to release your teaser and trailer at the same time. Keep your promo timing consistent and release them separately. The worst thing you can do is use up all of your promotional leverage by releasing too much too soon. On the flipside, don't keep your audience waiting too long - especially if it's your first film and you haven't established a following yet. You might easily wear out your welcome. Keep your promotional material on an even keel before the release of your movie and keep the interest piqued.

Remember, at the end of the day when all is said and done, although entertaining - trailers and teasers are tools; marketing tools that are help to sell your product. Ooops...I mean movie.