The Suspense is Killing Me

I decided to watch a couple different genres of movie trailers, to see the difference in how they are filmed. I watched three books to movies trailers, one remake movie trailer, one horror film trailer, one gangster film trailer, one sequel film trailer and one comedy film trailer.  For the recuts, I watched one comedy/family friendly to horror trailer, one suspense/drama to romantic comedy trailer and then one introduction TV series drama to sitcom.  Concerning shot length shot transitions and overall pacing, the gangster and horror film were the fastest. They had almost all short and choppy scene montages. For the recuts, the comedy to horror had the quickest shots and transitions. It seems that with the horror genre, the montage of scenes in the trailers are very quickly paced to show chaos and a hectic, scary environment. The slowest paced, longest shot length and transition trailer was the sequel film. Almost every shot was in slow motion to show epic build-up and preparation for battle, then it would speed up, but only for a couple seconds. The way all the trailers would show build-up and suspense was by fading in and out of black to action scene, black to action scene and so on. The books to movies and remake trailers really focused on close-up reaction shots of the characters. We would see their reactions, but not what they were reacting to all the time, so it increases the suspense, and intrigues the audience to go see the film.

Besides the comedy and horror film trailers, all of the other trailers had very epic, build-up music. I notice that music really affects my emotions, and so I imagine it affects others in the same way. Dramatic music is very carefully placed. It builds-up, usually pauses for dramatic effect then comes back in loud and epic. Also in these types of trailers, the sound effects are piercing, not in a horrific way, but just dramatizes the intensity of the story that is being told (examples: blades slashing, whips cracking etc.). In the horror film trailers, there is a lot screaming, slamming doors, and creepy quiet ticks or breathing. In the comedy, one would recognize some typical sitcom, happy music in the background. The average length of the trailers (not the recut) was about 2 minutes and 28 seconds. Official trailers are usually 2 and a half minutes, but for American Hustle (gangster film), the first test trailer was 1 minute 50 seconds. When it comes to the movies I and some others really want to see, (books to movies) 2 and a half minutes isn’t long enough! With the Divergent, Catching Fire and Percy Jackson trailers, studios usually come out with a couple different trailers and show some different scenes, which increases the audiences desire to see the movie even more. For the recut movie trailers they were only 2 minutes and 10 seconds; and the TV series introduction was only 50 seconds.

This was my favorite trailer, mostly because I had no idea that another 300 movie was coming out!

For the dramatic trailers, dialogue was carefully placed in order to increase suspense. In the book to movie trailers, it was either an inspirational or threatening monologue that a character would say. They start talking, then there is a dramatic pause, then they would say the one word or phrase that captures the audiences’ attention (example: Catching Fire– the word “hope”). Or in the remake trailer (Romeo & Juliet), they use quotes from the story to fill the background.  Typography was used in every trailer. Usually the epic music is playing in the background and it cuts to the words, then to a dramatic close-up reaction shot of a character, words again, then a quicker montage of events in the movie. For the drama movies, a bold, eye catching font is used. In the horror trailer and creepy looking font was used; and in the comedy a softer font is used.

The recut trailers very cleverly took the shots of characters smiling or laughing in the drama and made it into the rom com, or the dramatic scenes/faces and turn use them for the horror theme. All of the recut trailers I watched had typography, especially the TV introduction- on almost every cut, in order to introduce the characters and credit the writers, editors and director. The maximum number of times type appeared on the Game of Thrones trailer was 21 times. Each trailer, depending on the genre it is portraying has a unique way to intrigue their audience.

Trailers: Catching Fire, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Divergent, Romeo & Juliet, The Apparition, American Hustle, 300: Rise of an Empire, and The Secret Lives of Dorks.

Recut Trailers: Mrs. Doubtfire (comedy/family friendly film converted to horror), The Dark Knight (suspense/drama converted to romantic comedy), Game of Thrones (fantasy drama converted to sitcom).

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About akgipson

Trinity University Communications Sports Management
This entry was posted in Blog #5. Deconstructing movie trailers. Bookmark the permalink.

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