Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch 'Bound: Africans vs. African-Americans' Director, Peres Owino's Impassioned Discussion of the Film Watch 'Bound: Africans vs. African-Americans' Director, Peres Owino's Impassioned Discussion of the Film How Did 'Selma' Do at the Box Office on Its First Day in Release? How Did 'Selma' Do at the Box Office on Its First Day in Release? Marathon of New High-Definition Re-Mastering of 'The Wire' (Full Series) Starts Today on HBO Marathon of New High-Definition Re-Mastering of 'The Wire' (Full Series) Starts Today on HBO Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Kickstart This: A Film About a 150 Year-Old Black Vampire With Suicidal Urges Kickstart This: A Film About a 150 Year-Old Black Vampire With Suicidal Urges Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film 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) 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 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