I’ve recently been on an Anchorman (Adam McKay, 2004) kick so naturally, I chose this film for the trailer remix project. I decided to transform it from a comedy film into an action/superhero film, aptly named “Super Anchorman.” The basic premise of the story involves Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his news team as San Diego’s protectors from bad news and Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) as the bad news.
The script doesn’t lend itself well to establishing an action storyline, nor do I possess the radio-personality type voice to give my own verbal narration so I ended up relying on text narration to set the story. I used basic text narration, white text set on black, six times throughout my trailer only at points I found narration absolutely necessary to have. Text was my biggest frustration with this project; most superhero trailers have light colored text fading in from a black background, if they even utilize text at all. The only text animation I could find with Premier was either scrolling up and down or rolling in and out.
I modeled the beginning of my trailer after other superhero trailers with an overlapping voice and establishing shots of the city. Dick Bernard explains that the establishing shot of San Diego serves to set “the location so that the viewer knows where the action is taking place” (52). Ron Burgundy and his news team are then introduced in the trailer with a low-angle shot, a shot that implies power and authority by enlarging the subject with a ground-based view (Dick 55). Since they are the heroes of the story, it’s important that they are perceived as the dominant characters. After the introduction of the bad news, Wes Mantooth, I strung together several fast paced cuts that consisted of some sort of violent or physical action (guy punting Ron’s dog, Ron throwing girl, Ron curling weights, etc.). The intention of this sequence is to start setting the tone for an action-packed, violent, fighting movie.
I’ll admit that I included the long clip with Ron’s prelude to the news team fight because it is one of my favorite scenes in the movie (and I was really tempted to use Ben Stiller’s bilingual character because his lines crack me up every single time but I couldn’t find a way to fit him in… but I digress). I used this scene as a transition for my audio; I faded the first audio track I was using into the audio of the fight scene and then introduced another audio track at the end of the scene. This new audio track has more intensity and volume than the prior, helping to build up the overall intensity of the trailer.
Typically a superhero or protagonist in an action film has some sort of weakness or difficulty in stopping the bad guy. I tried to portray Ron Burgundy in trouble but it was tricky to manage the dialogue and background music that came with the scenes. I couldn’t find an appropriate verbal moment that was long enough to utilize as an overlapping voice over, so I incorporated several moments of Ron in distress. As the music picks up, I inserted more fighting scenes and utilized dissolving to black transitions between each shot. In my research, I noticed that action trailers tend to use these transitions excessively as an intense buildup to the movie title screen; I mirrored this in my trailer.
If the viewers were to look closely at the fighting scenes, they would notice that Ron utilizes a very long sword for beating his opponents. As explained by Richard Appingnanesi, Oscar Zarate and Tom Engelhardt, “any manifest object which suggests penetration, such as swords… can symbolize the penis” (65). Psychoanalysis of Ron and his sword concludes that Ron conquers others with his manhood, asserting his masculine dominance. Wes fights Ron with a tiny knife, implying that his manhood is inferior to Ron’s and he is therefore the subordinate. Another interesting contrast between Ron and Wes regards their facial hair; Vance Packard applied psychoanalysis to facial hair and cites a study that found for men “the mere daily act of cutting off this symbol of manliness is a kind of daily castration” (76). Since Wes lacks facial hair, he has been castrated and is again inferior to Ron Burgundy and his masculine mustache. The trailer suggests with just this psychoanalysis that by the conclusion of the film, good will conquer evil.
I think I could have improved my trailer if I used more overlapping voice overs, rather than having audio synchronized with most of the scenes. I noticed that action trailers used overlapping voice overs to form the plot but I could not find enough substantial voice overs to use in this way. Without these voice overs, I have to rely on text narration and even still, I was wary about using too much text. I didn’t want to write a novel explaining the story but I needed to make sure that the audience had some idea about the basic story. Finding that balance was hard and I’m not sure if I found that balance. I think I might have been too vague about the storyline. I would advise future students to get a head start on this project and not wait until the last minute; I finished editing my video a week before the deadline and that gave me plenty of time to go through to polish off the trailer and give any last minute little tweaks needed. Also I would advise picking a movie that you are familiar with because it makes searching for scenes and dialogue much easier when you know where approximately you should be looking.
And in case you were curious about how my remixed trailer compares to the original, here’s the original Anchorman trailer.
Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, Space and Image.” Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Richard Appignanesi, Oscar Zarate and Tom Engelhardt (1990). Freud for Beginners.
Vance Packard (1957). The Hidden Persuaders. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.