I chose to focus on the comedy Ted (MacFarlane 2012), one of the funniest movies of the year that transforms a teddy bear into a problem seeking teddy bear that talks. For my video project. With my recut trailer, I took MacFarlane’s message to another level. Not only is Teddy a drug using bear, but also he is back to kill everyone who has ever hurt a fellow teddy bear. Personally, I hate teddy bears and probably always will. I would not have lost sleep if Ted never woke up. Unfortunately he did, so I decided to create a trailer that would make other feel the same fear and hatred towards teddy bears. While watching trailers to storm up some ideas, I noticed that many horror films were dark and suspenseful. They did not have a lot of dialogue but on the rare occasion that there was dialogue, there was no background music playing to take away from the dialogue. Using some on the concepts from other movie trailers, I created Ted’s Revenge.
One of the easiest ways I found to transform the movie was by focusing on the iconography of certain genre. Sobchack states “iconography…provides a shorthand of mutual recognizable communications that neither filmmaker nor audience need ponder”(199). Horror films always have a chase scene, scary music, dark alleys, and other suspenseful techniques. Without having to state that I was making it a horror film, I was able to make the audience aware of this by using scenes of Ted in the alley, running away from someone, causing an accident. Sobchack also mentioned that films are imitations of other films, and not of life as mostly everyone assumes. The original film Ted is as all other comedies are. My recut trailer is essentially an imitation of a horror movie’s trailer.
Another important aspect of my trailer is the typography used. I used a large font with a shadow behind it to make it seem scarier. Danesi states, “that a color can have a host of other meanings”(3). I used the understanding of this to make sure that color used in my font connected with the overall theme of my movie. I decided to go with a dark red and black outline around the letters. Red has many meanings but I made sure the audience knew it was the scarier version of red that I was using. By having a scary soundtrack, I made sure red wasn’t mistaken for love. I think that the font is what keeps the movie going along. For horror movies, a simple white font can do justice but taking it a step further can enhance the trailer tenfold.
Choosing the shots for my trailer was not as hard as I thought it would be. When I first saw the movie I thought it would be hard to turn it into a horror because at first viewing, I did not remember seeing a lot of close-ups. Bernard Dick states, “Extreme close-ups of the eye are, in, fact, standard in horror films”(52). After analyzing my final cuts I realized that my trailer was composed of a lot of close ups. The car scene had close-ups of all the important characters in the trailer. The fight scene also included close-ups that helped with intensifying the scene and creating more suspense. Most horror movies used quick cuts and very quick transitions between scenes but I decided to use more of a cross fading transitions because although it was a horror, I wanted to portray it as more of a journey of hurting those who hurt his family. Yes this includes horror in the overall theme, but it isn’t him being a social killer.
The most difficult part of this project was dealing with the sound. Because we don’t have raw footage, it was hard to use dialogue in certain scenes because of background music. There were a few audio clips I had to cut out because they didn’t mesh well with my overall idea. The few parts I did used I believe enhanced the trailer. During the beginning scenes were the parents and news reporter are freaking out, their reactions fit in well with the horror idea. All other parts had to be essentially cut out. I wish I had more raw footage of the dialogue to help with moving the story along. Another issue I had with the audio was towards the end of my movie. I had to recut and add so many audio transitions to it in order for it to flow accordingly. Probably due to my ignorance with the program, I had to create like four different audio tracks at the end. Trying to get the right level of sounds for each sound effect was a pain in the butt. Overall I enjoyed the project and despite spending more time on the audio than I have at practice in the last week, it was a success.
My advice to future students for the project is to spend a good week on it. Skim the movie a time or two and then jot some ideas on what genre transformation would work best with the movie you are doing. Once you have that down, start cutting scenes and playing with different ideas. I actually enjoyed messing around with the technology we are provided. Although I spent a lot of time in the communications lab, I would do this project again if I had the opportunity. For the hours I sat in front of that computer, I felt like a mini-director, granted my film was not amazing but I had fun doing it. Starting early is the best you can do. It will allow you to tweak everything to perfection. After I finished mine, I came back to my room and it occurred to me to do something different. It was too late in the game for changes. Also, make friends in the class so that ya’ll can work in the lab together and bounce ideas off of each other. Another great idea, as an old wise man once told me, use lots of swagger when creating the video.
Dick, B. F. (2005). Anatomy of film. Boston, Mass: Bedford St. Martins.
Danesi, M. (2004). Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Sobchack, T. (1980). An introduction to film. Boston: Little, Brown.