As a child, I never really got into watching movies. I would often sit through the theatrical showings with my mum, but more often than not, I’d be fast asleep by the time the lights came on. Now, as an adult, my taste in cinema has changed somewhat. I’ve seen my share of quirky comedies and exciting action sequences, but the thing that really drew me in wasn’t the story, it was the cast. It started with Harry Potter and then expanded to characters such as Peppa Pig and Minnie Mouse. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with finding out more about the behind-the-scenes of these films. As a result of my research, I now have a better understanding of what makes a successful movie trailer.
The Evolution Of A Trailer
When I first got into the business, I noticed that there were three different kinds of trailers: action-adventure, romance, and comedy. People loved watching these kinds of movies, probably because they were easier to develop and much less expensive to produce. So, to keep things interesting for audiences, the studios would often mix up genres within a single film. For example, a comedy trailer might have a romantic element or an action sequence. Or an action sequence might be followed by a romantic interlude. It was all about keeping their audience entertained during these trying times.
As the years went by, my interest in movie trailers waned. Part of the problem was that technology had improved to the point where good-looking graphics and exciting music could actually make me want to watch a dull movie. Another factor was that the trailer for a given film would often contain so much information that it was virtually impossible to learn anything new. So, as much as I enjoyed discovering how stories were put together, I found it much more interesting to watch films on the big screen with an audience that wasn’t made up of people who worked in the industry.
The Role Of Music
Back in the day, movie trailers would often cut to jazz themes or classical music in order to grab the attention of the audience. As I mentioned above, technology had progressed to the point where graphics could sometimes do the trick. But it wasn’t just about the visuals; there was also the sound to consider. When I first heard jazz and classical music, I automatically associated them with something important. Something memorable, something that would stick with me long after the trailer ended.
These days, trailers are mainly composed of loud sound effects, pounding drums, and high-pitched strings. The message is often accompanied by a slogan at the end: “Don’t Forget To Vote!”, “Think Global, Shop Local,” or “Supportive Parenting Rocks!” While these lyrics provide some comedic value, primarily they exist in order to get the viewer to remember the name of the brand or product that the film promotes. Sometimes, this could even be a specific song that the writer or producer is worried about missing the point of while promoting the movie.
Keep Them Short
Trailers for movies that are less than ten minutes long struggle for attention. It’s hard to summarize the plot of a short film in just a few minutes. And even if you do, you’re not going to learn much from it. So, in the interest of keeping things entertaining, the filmmakers would often choose to show a few key scenes rather than give a blow-by-blow narrative of what happened. Think of those cheesy love letters that you’d find in the back of a shoebox. Those are the kinds of letters that I’m talking about. As annoying as it is to have to watch a five-minute video of someone bragging about how much they love cats, at least it’s short and snappy. It doesn’t waste anyone’s time.
Clarity Of Message
As someone who is often confused about what is happening in a film, I appreciate it when a movie trailer clears up any ambiguities. It isn’t always easy to figure out what is going on in a movie without watching it multiple times. But, when the trailer lays out all the essentials in something as simple as a list or flowchart, it becomes much easier to follow. Sometimes you need a little help from the audience: when the trailer shows the character’s name and a description of what they are doing, but doesn’t give away the ending, it can be a little awkward to watch. But, if I had already seen the film and knew what was going on, it would be far more interesting to watch the trailer than try to figure it out myself while watching the movie.
The Use Of Subtle Hints
When someone decides to make a movie, they usually already have a complete story in mind. So, rather than just show everything and expect the viewers to figure it out, they would often leave little hints about what is going on. I always find it interesting when a film uses these subtle hints to great effect. For example, a trailer for a documentary film about the Beatles might show a clip from the movie, but only leave enough clues for the audience to know that it is indeed a clip from the documentary. We don’t necessarily need to be spoonfed the entire story – as long as we know what genre we are dealing with and can identify certain key elements, we should be able to follow the story even if we have never heard of the character or the movie before. This technique is effective because it requires the viewer to actually think about what they are seeing rather than just relying on their existing knowledge about the subject matter. And when you make an effort to entertain an audience and keep them thinking during the four minutes that they are spending with your trailer, you can be sure that they will take away something new after watching it.
Avoid Too Many Reveals
The best kind of movie trailer is the one that doesn’t outright give away the plot. You might assume that I would say this because I work in trailers, but that is definitely not the case. Sometimes, certain movie trailers manage to pull off this feat of keeping secrets while still being entertaining. It is a tricky thing to pull off, but somehow the filmmakers manage to do it. The reason is that, even though they keep the viewer in the dark, they keep revealing details about the story at the same time. So, even if you do figure out what is going on, it will still feel like the narrative is constantly shifting and changing, making it hard to keep track of all the twists and turns. This can be an entertaining tactic when used correctly, but it also requires a lot of planning and a significant amount of creativity. So, when putting together a trailer, it is essential that the director and the writer sit down and discuss how they are going to reveal information, and make sure that all the elements fit together logically. Going back to the example above, while it would be cool to see the whole movie without knowing anything about it, it would be much more interesting to learn about it along with everyone else. The less you tell the audience, the more they will have to figure out themselves. And that, in turn, will make you a popular person in my book.