Formula For Success: Do What Everyone Else Does?

After watching several trailers in sequence, I was shocked at the similarities between them. Many of these teasers were virtually identical in form to the point where I could almost predict what shot was to come next and what style of song was going to be played following a certain sequence.

In regards to shot technique, yes there were all types of shots used, but most commonly, close ups of facial expressions were used. I believe this is the case because you can show a lot of emotion and intrigue through these expressions without having to have a lot of explanatory dialogue or narration. The sequence of these shots was very fast throughout. The only only slow moments were reserved for moments of poignant dialogue which gave away enough about the movies narrative to peak interest. I was also surprised that not many fluffy transitions were used. The shots moved so quickly that movements like fade outs and iris’ would’ve taken too long.

The musical aspects of the trailers is what mirrored the most aggressively from movie to movie. The first song always began about 20 seconds in after a little witty and intriguing dialogue was said. At this point the film company would also pop on the screen, “A Universal Movie” etc. Most of the trailers contained 2 songs. The first was typically a more up beat and aggressive track, while the second was a softer poignant song that complimented the moral or narrative revelation in the trailer. Each song would dip out at poignant moments in the dialogue.

Each trailer was roughly 2 minutes and 5 seconds long on average. There was also minimal narration which speaks to the value of shot selection, dialogue choices, and pacing. I did not come across any typed narration except for the remix trailers; clearly because it is hard to repurpose a movie without doing a bit more explanation. The trailers that did have narration always made use of that typical deep man voice to do so. Makes you wonder if this is the same guy and how much does it cost to use him…

As far as the recut trailers are concerned, there was a fair share of good and bad. The bad usually stemmed from the heavy use of type as a source of explanation for the stark deviation of storyline. The audio was also extremely choppy in many of them because there would be a score and narration, but then when it’d cut to dialogue the room noise of the scene would be so apparent following the absence of it. In my trailer, I would really strive to do a voiceover for narration to keep my sound and levels consistent.

With the narration, I saw a blank screen with typeface used as many as 12 times and as little as twice. I wonder if having a typeface over video instead of a blank screen would work? It seems like it would keep the rhythm better but may be hard to read. If it hasn’t been done before, I doubt it is effective. What does work though, and is completely necessary, is breaking the chronology of events and even manipulating scenes. For instance, if someone is seen looking at someone else, then the camera cuts to a different person, that can change the whole dynamic. Thinking of scenes and shots as units in and of themselves is absolutely imperative. In a recut, those units are there to be arranged as new.

Trailers: Silver Linings Playbook, This is 40, Your Sister’s Sister, Butter, The Sessions, Noah, Man of Steel, Take Me Home Tonight

Recut Trailers: Halloween (1978) as Romantic Comedy, The Sixth Sense as Feel Good movie, Jurassic Park as Romantic Comedy

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