Put this in your trailer and screen it…

"Is that a trailer in your pocket or are you just happy to see a (condensed version of) me?"

Trailers can be fun.  Trailers can be frustrating.  Either way, trailers are important.

The idea for a trailer is to introduce your film to audiences and have them wanting more.  How you go about doing this is completely up to you.

According to Wikipedia,

“Trailers tell the story of a film in a highly condensed fashion that must have maximum appeal”

Many trailers today give a lot away.  They give people a sense of the big picture but leave it full of holes, hoping to create within you a burning desire to pay $12 to see them filled.  Whether this technique frustrates or entices you, one can only assume it is working since it seems to be repeated endlessly.

The formula will vary depending on the directing, obviously, but if the movie has strong acting and a compelling storyline the trailer will typically let those things speak for themselves and won’t give too much away.  Films with weaker acting and shallow plots, however, will rely more heavily on the trailer to draw audiences in will need to divulge more of their innards to at least get you curious about how things play out.

Making Your Trailer Awesome

There really is no “right way” when it comes to cutting trailers.  Alfred Hitchcock, for example, created a trailer using “special shoot” material (material shot specifically for the trailer) which gave audiences a guided tour of the Bates’ motel before revealing a screaming actress in the shower and displaying PSYCHO is large bold letters across the screen.  The most important thing is that your trailer is captivating and leaves people wanting to see more of what you got.

Try to do the following with you trailer:

  • Show us your actors or subjects and tell us what makes them or their story interesting in the first 30 seconds
  • Use the next 30-60 seconds to highlight the juiciest and most interesting bits of your film
  • Lastly, leave us wanting more

For your trailer you are going to want to show people the most sizzling aspects of your film without giving away major plot twists.  If you have really cool special effects, you are probably going to want to show them off.  If you have a really compelling character, you are probably going to want to show he or she off in a stylized way.  If you have an interesting slash compelling story, make sure we get the gist of it and start our wheels turning about the who, what, when, where and why so that we are hooked and need to know how the story ends.

Great Trailer, Great Movie

Check out this interesting trailer that makes use of cool music and pretty pictures with card titling thrown in to give you a sense of mood and style without giving away any dialogue or major plot points:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Great Trailer, Not-So-Great Movie

And for an example of a trailer that makes you feel like you’ve just seen the entire film and is frankly (in on man’s opinion) better than the film itself, check out:

Superman Returns

Basically, if you got it… flaunt it.  If your film is a bomber… try to shine sh*t and see if it sparkles! =)


Meme E

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