More for Filmmakers Ep.3
Today I was talking to my favorite editor in the whole world (John Schimke) and we were discussing trailers. They built a teaser trailer recently for our film Don’t Tell Larry (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt16311236/) and we also completed a first draft trailer of our feature Somewhere in Montana (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11898070/). I’m sorry that both are drafts and neither have a finalized version to show as of yet but it got me thinking… what makes a good trailer?
Bad trailers are easy to identify. Personally I hate trailers that you watch and then wonder why you need to see the movie. “Okay, there’s the two of them meeting, there’s the best girlfriend, there’s the event that everything is based on, they miss each other, they miss each other again, and then — the title.” So at the end of the trailer we’ve seen the entire story and everything but the last few seconds of the film when they kiss, or when he shoots the other guy, or when they save the earth.
You can also have the other extreme where the trailer is so vague that you have no idea what the movie is about.
“A Man, A Mission, One Chance to Save them alllllll” Really?
The Typical Indie trailer
The typical solution for indie filmmakers is to make a trailer that quickly summarizes the entire film. That and add in the smash ending – after the credit block scream if you are making a horror film.
Here’s the other thing, theater managers, owners, etc. really really dislike long trailers – at least that’s one of the things that they talk about when they all get together. You have a much better chance of your trailer being seen if it is closer to a minute than two. If it’s over two, don’t even bother sending it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it myself but there’s got to be another way.
So I was thinking about another model for trailers and this is what we have been cutting around:
1) Give us the problem – what is the hero’s dilemma? Why do we care?
2) Give us the conflict – What are the forces at work that the hero must overcome in order to get done what they need to do.
3) And then montage over music.
Simple, and it can be done in 60-90 seconds, no muss no fuss.
In the End
A trailer is not to let people know what your movie is really about, it’s only job is to get people to watch your film. If the trailer is compelling enough they will CARE about your film and that is 100% better than KNOWING. Make your trailer, just don’t make it suck.