In my personal opinion, Mean Girls (Waters, 2004) is one of the best comedies ever made and should be considered a classic in the cannon of comedy films. With its great cast, an amazing soundtrack, epically memorable and hilarious jokes, and an element of reality that makes it extremely relatable to the viewer, this movie is a masterpiece. I decided to pay homage to this movie not only for all of those reasons I just stated, but also because I have always found it fascinating that audiences can laugh hysterically at a movie that otherwise could be seen as a horror movie– even in the original, Regina George (Rachel McAdams) terrifyingly manipulates and controls all of the other characters, and the entire school. That is why when I heard that we were going to have this project, the only film I could think to remix was this one, into the horror movie that it really would be without all
of the jokes throughout.
One interesting thing about remixing this film, was that there is so much viable footage for a horror trailer, it was definitely difficult to decide exactly what to include and leave out. To truly get started on editing, I took the advice of Chuck Klosterman in his article “What’s Behind Room 237?” when he is referring to his concept of “Immersion Criticism” and states, “It can’t really be done unless you watch a movie 10 or 100 or 1,000 times. It’s based on the belief that symbolic, ancillary details inside a film are infinitely more important than the surface dialogue or the superficial narrative”. I had to put myself in the frame of mind where I ignored the original plot narrative, and simply searched for clips that portrayed happiness through the symbolism of laughter and smiling, as well as clips that portrayed horror through the symbols of panic, chaos, and hardship.
All of these perceptions about symbols and how they would function to create a horror movie trailer all stem from our assumed cultural knowledge of film genre. In Thomas Sobchack’s piece “Genre Film: A Classical Experience”, he states that genre films contain general techniques and “general conclusions which have stood the test of time” (196) and serve as models that always work. Based on these models that have been seen before, tell the viewer exactly which genre of film they are viewing. So much of what makes up clearly portraying a genre, in addition to the clips chosen obviously, is dependent on the music/sound choice and typography. For the first part of my trailer when it seems like Regina George is genuinely interested in being friends with Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), I chose to use the upbeat original song of the movie “Built This Way” by Samantha Ronson and utilize clips in which the girls all appear to be laughing and having fun with each other. But once it switches to revealing the horror movie aspects, the music changes to a scary song that I downloaded from YouTube, and begins with a title slide containing a creepy font called Mrs. Monster (ironically enough). In addition to the scary song that plays throughout the whole entire horror part of the trailer, there are also some sound effects in order to give it more dramatic effect.
In addition to the music and typography, the last aspect of editing that I would like to highlight is my choice of cuts between clips. In Bernard Dick’s chapter of “Film, Space, and Mise-en-Scéne” in his book The Anatomy of Film, he states that transitions are used to “bridge scenes” and are “more noticeable than cuts” (71), and I really tried to utilize that fact. I used many fade outs for the horror aspects, and fade ins for the beginning to reflect the light and happy feeling of that section. My absolute favorite part of my trailer was when I used a transition for dramatic foreshadowing (74) between when Gretchen Weiners (Lacey Chabert) tells Cady that she will keep her secret about her crush on Regina’s ex boyfriend, and then when Cady is at home and gets a phone call where Regina says “I know your secret”. The use of transitions was a great way for me to be able to shift in between segments and highlight the overall progression of the horror movie plot.
This project was very fun for me to be able to participate in, and I love film editing. Premiere is definitely a great program to play around with for the first time, but I did feel that there were a lot of limitations, such as not that much customized flexibility for adjusting the sound levels (they only had a few db options), as well as the ways that the type on title slides can move (only limited to crawls, rolls, and still). I would say if someone does not have any film editing experience, definitely start early so that you are not reliant on asking others or researching how to do certain features. Also, do not be scared to click around! It’s the only way to truly figure out the program and find all of your options.
Dick, Bernard F. Anatomy of Film. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978. Print.
Klosterman, Chuck. “What’s Behind Room 237?”. Grantland, 2012. Online.
Sobchack, Thomas. “Genre Film: A Classical Experience”. Literature Film Quarterly 3.3 (1975). Print.