Posts Tagged ‘trailers’

On Trailers

March 26, 2015

I wrote, directed, and edited The Adventures of Paul and Marian, but when it came to creating a trailer for the movie, I was really at a loss.

A good trailer has to evoke the style and feel of the movie, give a general idea of the story, and show some of the movie’s best moments without giving everything away. It has to be exciting, evocative, and informative, all within a short span of time. It’s like an elevator pitch, but with video clips and music.

This is even harder to do than it sounds. It’s hard to make a trailer for any movie. But before “Paul and Marian,” I had created successful trailers for my previous two features — one by myself, and the other with the collaboration of the cinematographer and writer of the movie. It took a little wrangling, but these trailers fell into place fairly quickly.

But the trailer for The Adventures of Paul and Marian was one of the hardest things I’ve ever edited.

The story of the movie is fairly simple, but on its own, the story isn’t what makes the movie interesting. So just setting up the story wasn’t enough. I tried many approaches. I tried using one of the movie’s songs as the structure for the trailer. I tried using whimsical title cards to convey the spirit and subject matter of the movie. I tried a version that introduced the various characters in a fun and stylized way. I tried some experimental meta-trailers to channel the anarchic quality I tried to bring to the movie. But everything I did was confusing or boring or failed to convey the feeling or story of the movie or all of the above.

I worked for a while then took some time off and then worked again, and still nothing was clicking. At my wits end, I reached out to an experienced director/editor friend who has made trailers before, and I bartered doing a few days of sound work on his latest documentary in exchange for him cutting a trailer for me. (I totally won out on this. His documentary is fascinating and I got a front row seat via a boom microphone.) My friend’s version of the Paul and Marian trailer was really fun and opened the door to a lot of approaches I hadn’t thought of. But it was long and didn’t reflect the pace of the movie, which is one of its charms. So I started tinkering with it.

Around this time I brought in friends to take a look at what I had done so far and what I was doing to this latest trailer. These friends were media-savvy; filmmakers, writers, editors, or people with marketing backgrounds. Some of them had seen the movie, and some hadn’t, and I relied on their feedback to let me know whether the trailer was doing what it needed to do. Eventually I landed on an approach that worked for everyone and kept the fun spirit of the movie. Stay tuned – you’ll see that trailer posted here soon.

But seriously, it was harder to cut this trailer than it was to cut the movie. It’s clearly an art of its own and not for the weak. If you can avoid it, don’t cut a trailer for your own movie!