Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place The Cast of 'A Different World' 20 Years Later - 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' The Cast of 'A Different World' 20 Years Later - 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' Sundance Institute Selects 10 Writers for Inaugural Episodic Story Lab Sundance Institute Selects 10 Writers for Inaugural Episodic Story Lab Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes Lead 'Man in 3B' (Based on Carl Weber Bestseller) Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes Lead 'Man in 3B' (Based on Carl Weber Bestseller) Tribeca Film Announces 'Nas: Time is Illmatic' One Night Only October 2 National Screenings Tribeca Film Announces 'Nas: Time is Illmatic' One Night Only October 2 National Screenings The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) Weekend B.O. Sept. 12-14 (Will 'No Good Deed's' Success Help Make Taraji P. Henson an A-lister?) Weekend B.O. Sept. 12-14 (Will 'No Good Deed's' Success Help Make Taraji P. Henson an A-lister?) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) Watch First Episode of ABC's New Series 'Black-ish' Now Watch First Episode of ABC's New Series 'Black-ish' Now 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Eyeing Leads In Revenge Thriller 'The Perfect Guy' Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Eyeing Leads In Revenge Thriller 'The Perfect Guy' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Dear Filmmakers... Invest In A Good First Trailer!

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act November 12, 2012 at 2:02PM

I first posted this almost a year ago, and believe that I need to continue posting it once every 6 months to a year, because many of you folks just don't seem to be paying attention, given the fact that I continue to receive emails with trailers to films that just aren't put together very well, and which might be hurting more than helping your film's prospects.
6
Trailer

I first posted this almost a year ago, and believe that I need to continue posting it once every 6 months to a year, because many of you folks just don't seem to be paying attention, given the fact that I continue to receive emails with trailers to films that just aren't put together very well, and which might be hurting more than helping your film's prospects.

So here it is again, in case you missed it the last time I posted it.

I can't stress enough just how important your film's trailer is - especially that very first trailer you release publicly, which could very well make or break your film. It's THAT important; it's practically your film's initial introduction to the world, and you know what they say about first impressions.

I get emails daily from filmmakers alerting me to their projects, and I'm continuously baffled at just how sloppy some of these trailers are. It gets really frustrating folks, because there actually might be a pretty good film being summarized in that 2 1/2-minute clip. BUT because it's so poorly put together, it instantly sours any interest I might have had in finding out any more.

Ya dig?

I don't want to embarass anyone by using their trailer as an example of what NOT to do; believe it or not, I'm actually here to help not hurt. And I know our readers well enough to know just how unforgiving they can be when we do post items that are so obviously not up to par. 

So, instead, I'd just say that, when cutting a trailer, take these things into consideration:

- How well do you know your film? You really should by the time you get to putting a trailer together. What's its center? It's core? What's the thread driving its narrative? Think about that as you nip and tuck.

- Who's your audience? 

- Limit the music. Too often there seems to be this need to mimic Hollywood's approach, with timed swelling soundtracks that sometimes overpower the images. That shouldn't happen; the music certainly shouldn't be at the same sound levels as the dialogue within the scenes; I shouldn't be struggling to understand what's being said. Let your scenes (the actors, dialogue, cinematography, production design, direction) speak for themselves; the music shouldn't do that for you. It's there to compliment. 

- There's no such thing as the perfect trailer. I'm sure you could always find something to critique in any trailer, but if there was one single suggestion I could make for you to take from this, it would be to K.I.S.S.

- Also, less really is more. Less of everything; don't give the entire movie away; keep the music to a minimum; keep the trailer short (I'd say from 1:30 to 2 minutes is ideal). The trailer is meant to intro your film, and, in effect, tease your audience into wanting to see more of it. Then after you've released your first trailer, you can spread out additional teases with more clips, stills, etc.

- Watch trailers for other films, especially films that have already entered the markeplace. Identify those that worked for you, in that they got your attention and made you want to see more.

Obviously, if your original source - your footage (the acting, directing, cinematography, etc) - isn't great, then you really can't expect to be able to cut a great trailer. However, I think you all will agree that there have been times when you've been fooled into watching a film because you were sold on the trailer; meaning, even with weak source material, you can still put together a decent intro to your film in the form of a trailer. 

If you need assistance in putting your trailer together, please don't hesitate to ask. Not that I'm some trailer pro, but I'd be happy to give my own suggestions, and you can do with them as you see fit. But even if you don't ask me, ask others whose opinions you respect - and not just your family, friends, crew or cast mates. 

Invest a good amount of time on it; don't rush; I know the excitement one feels after completing a project and wanting to share glimpses of it with the world soon thereafter. Patience grasshopper. Take your time; to reiterate, your first trailer is your film's first real introduction to the world, and it could impact how your film is viewed from then on, even if you cut a second improved trailer. That initial sourness really does linger on for awhile...

Filmmaking is already hard, time-consuming work; don't ruin your film's potential reach with a weak first trailer.


Shadow & ActNewsletter