Interesting article on how trailers are made

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Reuben, Jul 27, 2002.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    The latest issue of the New York Times Magazine (July 28, 2002) has a fascinating article on how trailers are made. Focusing on the trailer, teaser and TV spots for Signs, the article offers an insider's angle on how films get marketed. What surprised me is how many hours of work trailers consume; the guy who did the work for Signs spent nine (9) months doing nothing else. [​IMG]
    Link below; I believe registration is still required to access the Times site, but it's free:
    The 150-Second Sell, Take 34
    M.
     
  2. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    More than interesting...those who make trailers are the cinematic equivalent of surgeons. Or, in the case of some films, like Vanilla Sky, plastic surgeons. [​IMG]
    Given the enormous importance and hyperkinetic intensity surrounding opening weekend B.O. tallies and buzz, it's clear why those who dabbled in the 'art' of making trailers have become elevated from a cottage industry to Hollywood's major players.
    I would have like to have seen discussion of examples that proved to be pivotal in designating trailers as vital, and almost transcendentally so, in determining a films fate. In my estimation, the trailer for Independence Day was the watershed moment in the discipline - this two-minute snippet caught the attention of our national zeitgeist like no other trailer had done before. As a result, a hokey sci-fi flick produced by a couple of theretofore unknowns went on to become an astronomical success.
    Nonetheless, a fascinating peek inside their world. Brings back to mind my jr. high school composition instructor's mantra - catch the audience in the first paragraph or lose them forever. Tough then, monumentally tough for these folks, given the enormous pressure of big-bucks.
    And in my personal opinion, given that most of the product from Hollywood is exactly that, product, I believe the studios should credit the trailers for much of the success of these lousy films. Get 'em in the first weekend with the trailer, before word of mouth acts as the mighty equalizer.
     
  3. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Most trailers today make me not want to watch the movie - or maybe the movie is all explosions and action?
    I like it when you have a DVD of a remastered classic - crisp and clear, then the extras include a period trailer, all grainy, film blemishes, muffled sound!
    BTW no one has ever explained to me why they are called trailers, when they are PREVIEWS, shown BEFORE the main feature.[​IMG]
     
  4. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    Because way-back-when they used to trail the feature. I don't know when they began to be shown before the feature.
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  6. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Interesting article. I'm glad Shyamalan is so particular about the trailers for his flims. I almost thought the wrong print had been sent to the theater when the opening statement in Unbreakable appeared. What often gets lost in the marketing competition is that viewers enjoy not knowing where they will be led. Signs looks to be the same way.

    One thing not touched upon is the teaser or trailer for Magnolia. I thought Paul Thomas Anderson cut it, which is contrary to most.
     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    It almost makes one wonder if there should be a new Academy category for a "best trailer" Oscar!
     
  8. Chad Ferguson

    Chad Ferguson Supporting Actor

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    Well I think trailers have really died in quality. The best ones I've ever seen would have to be the first ID4 one(Teaser) or the teaser for the fifth element which is probably the best thing I've ever seen. As for full length trailers, the signs trailer didn't look that great in any respect for myself but maybe he didn't have that much to work with, that's getting off the point. To find that perfect medium of telling the story but not give away to much I think must be one of the toughest things out there. A production that wants to keep everything a secret could have everything releaved just like that. Matrix had a great trailer that didn't give away anything other than the very basics of the story and some of the cool action. Best full length trailer in my opinion.
    Thank you
     
  9. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    I've seen lots of trailers, but Vanilla Sky is probably the best. I also agree with the Fifth Element trailer being great, no voice-over, no words, just funky music and lots of visuals.
     
  10. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    And what about those that failed...those trailers that were essentially cliff notes of the movie. And after watching the movie, you're left with a feeling of deja vu - hmmm, didn't I watch a movie like this, or even this one before?

    There have been some of those trailers, although I cannot remember since I've probably successfully repressed the entire experience.
     
  11. Derrick_Ellis

    Derrick_Ellis Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally like well done teasers instead of trailers. One teaser that I will always remember is the one for Austin Powers 2 that spoofed Star Wars. Trailers these days give away either too much, or the best parts of the movie. The action film trailers remind me of 2 minute MTV videos. A DVD with the best trailers over the past few decades would be really cool. It wouldn't be too hard to do these days.
     
  12. Anders Englund

    Anders Englund Second Unit

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    Favourite trailer: A Clockwork Orange . It's just soooo cool! Usually, I too prefer the teasers. The one for The Hulk is very good.
    Speaking of trailers, I distinctly remember the one for Small Soldiers, which actually made you think the movie was about some sinister plot to create killer toys.
    I was planning to say something else too, but I totally forgot. If someone thinks of it, remind me, will ya. [​IMG]
    --Anders
     
  13. Sean Oakley

    Sean Oakley Auditioning

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    My vote for best trailer would hands down have to go to John Woo's Face/Off. There's just something about a cool setup like that featuring footage that is not actually part of the film. I always watch the Face/Off trailer before viewing the actual film because it is such a great primer that makes you want to watch the rest of this great flick.

    A similar example would be the teaser for Strange Days.
     
  14. Anders Englund

    Anders Englund Second Unit

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    Oooooh, I just remembered what I was supposed to say: The trailer for Mimic has a the scene with the girl running in a subway station and suddenly carried away by one of the bugs. However, the trailer doesn't have the bug, so it looks like the girls just takes off on her own.

    --Anders
     
  15. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Anyone else getting tired of the "object flying at camera" closing shot? It's been an epidemic since "Twister."
     
  16. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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  17. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I've noticed after years of studious research (ie: watching too many dvd's) that all trailers are exactly the same.

    They all seem to have footage taken from roughly the same point in the films (20 minutes, halfway, the end) and pretty much every trail has.....

    1. the big secret revealed: "Darth Maul has a double-lighted light-sabre?! gee! I didn't already see that a f*cking year before the movie premiered"

    2. The final fight: The majority of the movie-preview is comprised of the hero fighting "The boss". This is proven with any H2H movie (especially Jet li ones)
     
  18. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Having now seen Signs, let me applaud those who cut the trailer. They have teased events that happen in the film without beginning to hint at what the film is about. If only more trailers were the same way. (This isn't meant as a hankering for the "good ol' days". Watching some of those trailers on DVD you'll find that many of those give away practically every plot twist too.)
     
  19. Ruth_F

    Ruth_F Stunt Coordinator

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    almost every weekend, i do what they call trailer checks ---go to screenings of movies opening, write down the trailers and how, if all, the audience reacted.

    so, i've been watching the trailer for signs for A LONG TIME...and i hated it. but after seeing the movie, I applaud them, because too often when you see trailers these days you've practically seen the movie. not the case with signs. unfortunately i think that will confuse and/or disappoint some who go to the movie.
     
  20. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    There was a really good series of articles on Eonline back in 2000 about trailers. I'll see if I can dig up the link.

    I'm one of those that loves trailers....well loves good ones. When I worked at a theatre a friend and I used to always find the films that had new trailers and watch them. Then if it was good, it is always fun to watch the audience react. I had planned on doing a trailer review site at one time. Reviews of just trailers, nothing more. I still would like to do something like that.

    Some trailers that still stick in my mind:

    The three Godzilla(98) teasers.
    1) Godzilla stepping on the T-rex skeleton in a museum. This showed before Jurassic Park: The Lost World.
    2) Godzilla smacking the Times Square New Year's Ball with his tail.
    3) The guy fishing and Godzilla coming up through the dock. The first trailer to use some footage from the actual movie, but ended with the guys infront of the 'eye'.

    The trailer to Dark City. Great soundtrack, great visuals, no narrative, just some text.

    The first Cast Away teaser. Hanks ends up on the island yelling 'hello' and that is it.

    Bad Trailers:

    The second Cast Away trailer. We find out that Hanks gets back after 4 years. Gee thanks.

    What Lies Beneith. Another one that went too long revieling the twists.

    Ransom. The trailer gave away too much as well and the twist with Gibson. Ron Howard fought hard to edit that trailer but lost.
     

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