Goodbye Fantasy, Hello Max


A “deleted scene” from the trailer. Susan tries to connect with Max.

For the video trailer remix project, I was really intent on using the movie Where the Wild Things Are, as it is a favourite movie of mine as well as a favourite childhood book. Initially, I wanted to change the movie from what I saw as child fantasy to horror or thriller, first by having Max try to get home without being caught by the wild things, and then by having Max portrayed as a psychotic or disturbed child who ends up murdering his mother. In the end, I changed the genre from child fantasy to coming-of-age drama.

After deciding on my genre change, my first step was to go through and find clips and scenes from the movie that reinforced the new storyline. In some ways, this was easier than I thought because there were a variety of scenes that show Max and his mother (now aunt) interacting with each other, as well as many close shots of both characters faces. I wanted to stick to close shots because, as Bernard Dick1 states, they are an effective way to emphasize emotion, which I felt was important for the trailer because I think that there is necessary to obtain an emotional response from the viewer for them to want to see the movie.

As far as dialogue is concerned, I had some difficulty finding spoken text that I could use to set up the plot of the movie. This led me to rely on title slides with text to narrate the trailer and inform the audience of what was happening. This problem also ended up dictating the way in which my trailer would unfold, with a scene followed immediately by a title slide to explain what was going on. Because my narration relied so heavily on text, I spent a good amount of time searching for a font choice similar to the original font used on the DVD cover. I felt that this font not only matched the look that I was going for with the trailer, but was also easy to read, despite being a decorative font, which are notoriously difficult to read and can be potentially distracting.2 Also, while I wasn’t able to find dialogue within the movie to narrate the entire trailer, there were clips of dialogue that I used to reinforce what the title slides were saying.

One of the editing choices that gave me some trouble was what sort of transition to use. I noticed that trailers for similarly themed movies, such as Uptown Girls and Raising Helen, often incorporated the use of the dissolve effect for transition. However, those movies didn’t have the same “indie” feel that Where the Wild Things Are has. After looking at the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom, as well as other movie trailers with similar aesthetics, I decided that having straight shot-to-shot transitions would work best for the new trailer. I also felt that this transition choice worked really well with the music selection, which is very rhythm heavy in the guitar strums and staccato drumbeats.

The song that I used in my movie trailer is “Home” by Phillip Phillips. At first, I tried to use two songs in my trailer, a somber song at the beginning and then a more upbeat, folksy “Top 40” song such as “Home” about halfway through the trailer, because I noticed that many of the trailers that I viewed made similar music choices. Eventually I decided that “Home” would be sufficient, partially because I was having trouble deciding when and how to transition between the two songs, and partially because I felt that one song would be enough for the trailer. The section of the song that I wanted to use was too short, so I looped the intro until the music ran the length of the trailer and ended when and where I wanted it to. After doing so, I noticed that my transition choices just so happened to match up very well with the tempo of the song, as well as the words in the song.

After watching my completed trailer for the first time, I was worried that the content gave too much information away about the movie. I have friends who hate it when they know exactly what’s going to happen in a movie after just watching the trailer. However, Thomas Sobchack mentions in “Genre Film: A Classical Experience,” that genre films aren’t about a movie’s specific plot3.  Instead, these films are about the story, or how the plot unfolds.  Because of this, moviegoers who would potentially watch Max already know what they’re going to get out of this movie and wouldn’t be deterred by a revealing trailer. Like myself, they’d probably watch the movie not for the “why,” but for the “how.”

I really enjoyed the opportunity to get my feet wet with Premiere during this assignment. Not only did I find that video editing was easier than I expected, but it was also a lot of fun! The next time around, I would definitely try and sketch out some sort of storyboard for my trailer instead of just watching the movie and trying to remember which scenes I want to use. While I was a bit worried about my dependency on the title slides, in retrospect, I think they worked out really well. Personally, I think that my trailer was successful because I was able to transform scenes from a children’s fantasy movie into a coming-of-age film trailer that deals with loss of a loved one, acceptance of surprise responsibility, and personal growth. And no monsters.

1 Dick, B. F. (2005). Anatomy of film. Boston, Mass: Bedford St. Martins.

2 Hagen, R. & Golombisky, K. (2013). White Space Is Not Your Enemy. Burlington: Focal Press.

3 Sobchack, T., & Sobchack, V. C. (1980). An introduction to film. Boston: Little, Brown.

This entry was posted in Blog #6. Remixed video trailers, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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