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Selling The Sizzle: Check out the Free Trailer We Created for One Lucky Filmmaker

by CJ Harris
December 31, 2013 12:07 PM
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A few weeks ago I invited filmmakers to send me their projects in hopes of getting Double Wide Trailers to create a top-notch theatrical trailer for their film for free. Needless to say, a lot of incredible work came across my desk. Full-length features, documentaries, shorts, webisodes -- there is really some great work out there. Lots of folks with lots of passion. But after much deliberation, Double Wide Trailers selected Robert Poole’s 7-minute short "The Exchange" from among the submissions.

The Log Line for "The Exchange" reads: Trapped in a failing marriage, Brian seeks the help of a mysterious 'fixer' known for his ability to change the lives of his clients forever.

I found "The Exchange" to be an edge-of-your-seat, suspense-thriller. It has a great storyline, major star power (Michael Beach plays a worthy protagonist) and the production value is superb. The film is beautifully shot, so the approach to the trailer was to keep it simple and let the movie speak for itself.  We started off with a rough script (below), which served as the blue print for the direction.

After the first rough cut following this script, we seemed to be missing the mark. The story was there for the most part, but where was the intrigue? We went back, slowed down the pacing and let the cut breathe a bit more. We also added two graphic cards: "WHEN LOVE IS LOST" and "HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?" Now we were cooking with grease.  

The story structure was solid but we needed the right music to really bring the cut to life. I brought in Joey Padovani of Beautiful 7 Recordings to score to the cut. Joey took the time to design a custom track exclusively for this trailer.  He dissected each scene and created a moody, atmospheric sound bed that drives the cut from start to finish. Joey describes his approach to the music like this: “I had to approach the trailer with a love/hate texture.  Piano for the love, and strings for the unknown – fear of what’s going to happen.”  

The subtle nuances in the music, the pregnant pauses, the way the track builds to an ominous crescendo. It all adds to the intrigue. The sound design takes the cut to a whole new level. Joey knocked it out of the ballpark.

But enough about the mechanics of the trailer. See for yourself:

Editor: Kamilah Amirah

Audio Mixer/Sound Design: JosephJoeyoPadovaniBeautiful 7 Recordings,

Double Wide Trailers is committed to helping emerging filmmakers raise the marketability of their films with a professional movie trailer that is eye-catching, inventive and most of all memorable. If you have a project in need of creative help, email us at We look forward to taking your project to the next level.

About the Filmmaker:

Robert L. Poole has directed a wide range of work including stage plays, documentaries, music videos, and short films. His shorts have played in festivals throughout the country. He is currently developing his first feature-length film.

Robert L. Poole

About "The Exchange"

The Exchange was developed as a part of a fellowship I received shortly after graduating film school. We were challenged to write, develop, shoot, and edit a short film (10 minutes or less) in 10 weeks using the company’s production office as our sole location. As a result the conference room became a living room, the screening room became a bedroom, and so on.

This film is just starting its festival run so having a trailer that intrigues people is a huge plus in terms of promotion. CJ’s work really breathes new life into the story which is a mashup of sci-fi, mystery, and romance. Moving forward, I would love to develop a series based off the mood and theme of this short."

About CJ Harris

CJ Harris has been creating award-winning promotional campaigns for over 10 years. As Senior Writer/Producer at HBO, CJ’s groundbreaking promos for Def Poetry have become legendary in the industry.  While at HBO, CJ worked on a number of high-profile campaigns including Jill Scott’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, HBO Documentary Films, and Chris Rock Kill the Messenger. Her most recent work as Creative Director at BET Networks includes launching the BET Original Movie Being Mary Jane, overseeing the promotional campaigns for The Game, Black Girls Rock and Scandal on BET as well as dozens of other network series, tentpoles and movies. CJ holds a B.S. in Broadcasting and Film from Boston University.  When CJ’s not shaping dope creative she spends her time watching sports and yelling at the TV. To sample CJ’s work, go to:

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  • CareyCarey | January 2, 2014 3:19 AMReply

    I don't know who will win this years Oscar for Best Movie of the year, nor if the folks behind "The Exchange" will ever be mentioned in the same breath, but this collaboration is a winner for, and by, everyone involved.

    Starting with the filmmaker Robert Poole and his film, in my opinion, this is a very intriguing story/film. From the opening scene to the end, there was not a moment in which I wasn't engaged in the story, questioning and wondering what was happening between the couple, how they got there and what would happen next. Not to mention what happened to the wife? What did the protagonist ((Michael Beach) do to her? All of that suspense I gathered from THE TRAILER.

    And, without question the professional touch of Double Wide Trailers and Beautiful 7 Recordings was the cherry on top of this cake.

    Listen, I watch a ton of films/movies. What stands out to me in "freshman" productions is the lack of a proper/adequate/ right sound and music score that enhances and gives "body/life" to the actions and "feelings" (emotions) of the actors. I am sure we've all seen exactly what I'm referring to? A single track (popular song or melody) is played throughout an entire scene, which may capture the right mood/tone for a small segment of the scene and/or story, however, in my opinion one song or bits of the same melody can never do justice to an entire scene (depending on the length of the scene and the number of character in said scene). Consequently, with all the emotions and suspense that was and is building in this film, Joseph "Joeyo" Padovani's professional touch was definitely an added plus.

    Having said that, I feel compelled to go here--> "sorry, I stopped it at 0:38. almost a minute of just people looking sad an not sayin anything".

    Really!? Look, I've yet to see a movie in which someone is "speaking" throughout the entire film. In real life there are moments of silence, reflection and pause, so I just don't understand what the reader is suggesting or looking for?

    Anyway, win-win for everyone involved. I can't help but believe one cannot go wrong with meeting, getting input and feedback from someone with CJ Harris's skill-set and experience. I checked out some of her other work and WOW! Listen, in simple terms that I am sure we all understand, Ms. Harris is no joke. Hitching one's wagon to her team would be a very wise move.

  • Erm | January 3, 2014 10:34 AM

    Thought you was a woman cuz of your tone an way you came at me. But yea moving on.

    Trailer you made up is more interesting but not good. Excitment is part but not all of it.
    Too many assumptions. Not what I need but what makes a good trailer and sells the movie

  • CareyCarey | January 3, 2014 7:59 AM

    Okay "Mr." ERM, when my professor asks me why I am falling asleep in his class, I'll tell him it definitely wasn't a booty call that has me nodding off. :-)

    Nawl man, because of the position you've taken in this discussion/issue, I simply assumed (wrongfully assumed) that you were a young girl. I was in no way trying to imply anything of a negative nature. So lets move on.

    Listen, I kinda, sorta, maybe, might finally understand where you're coming from and what you need in your trailers for them to be considered as "good". I'll use this story as an example. Well, I think you need a little more "in your face" action and bombastic rhetoric to get you excited/interest/off your seat. So the following is parts of a trailer I'd suggest for you.

    In the opening scene the very first thing we'd see is a closeup of the face of the terrified and desperate looking husband. There's tears running from his eyes and he's drenched with sweat. The camera pans out. We see him holding a wooden box. There's no sounds at all... it's a quiet as a church mouse. But then he yells "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO MY WIFE?".

    The camera pulls out to a full view of the room. There we see Micheal Beach with a sh*t eating grin on his face. He replies "I don't choose how things happen, I just facilitate what you ask for".... FADE TO BLACK.

    15 seconds have elapsed. The next scene we see a loving couple in the park. It's a sun lit summer day. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's "Summertime" is playing in the background. A man walks by the couple with a strange look on his face. The music switches to a slow drum beat as the man says to his mate "That man we passed tried to stare me down, and when I looked at you, you looked at the ground. I don't know who he is but I think that you do. GODDAMIT... who is he and what is he to you?! Tell me he's not someone just passin' by and when you clear your throat was that your cue to say not now? GODDAMIT... one mo' time, who is he and what is he to YOU!?"... FADE TO BLACK

    At this point the total running time is 48 seconds. The next scene we're back in the room with the two men. There's no smooth bongos nor soft piano strokes being used to build suspense in this thriller (as was the case in CJ Harris's trailer), oh no, the following speaks for itself.

    The camera zooms down on the box as the husband slowly lifts the lid. OMG! There's a human head inside. It appears to be that of a woman. The husband repeats "What the fk did you do to my wife you SOB!?". "I did my job, I told you, there are NO refunds and certainly no do-overs" says the devilish looking fixer. The husband replies, "this is not MY wife"... :-(


    There you go ERM. Is that more to your liking? Did that hold you past the 38 second mark while staying true to the original story? **BIG GRIN**

  • Erm | January 3, 2014 1:40 AM

    So quick to call someone argument fruitless or call somebody "Ms" but don't like it when people do it to you. Funny. MR, to you, too.

    No one in the comments like the trailer an only one person said they wanna see the movie. I don't need to speak for anybody when they did it themself.

  • CareyCarey | January 3, 2014 1:17 AM

    "Trailer has to show AND tell."

    Okay, I agree with that. However, we can't speak for others, so maybe if more people would offer their opinions on what this film didn't or did do for them, then we'd get a better perspective on who's argument is fruitless.

    To CJ Harris... HELLLLLLLLP! :-)

    btw, it's Mr. Carey.

  • Erm | January 3, 2014 12:26 AM

    Trailer has to show AND tell. Only have a little time to get audience attention, Ms Carrie. Trailer wasted 40 secs on quiet sad people. That's not what the movie about. Your missing the purpose of a trailer. Its supposed to grab audience off the bat and pull them in. This did not. Your argument is fruitless. Everyone else didn't like trailer for a reason. It didn't do what it suppose to do.

  • CareyCarey | January 2, 2014 11:12 PM

    ERM, me think you're a little confused about the purpose of a trailer. But have you ever heard the phrase "show don't tell"? I am suggesting that this trailer did exactly that. It SHOWED us what the movie was about with limited and unnecessary dialog.

    Now if you're still confused, let me point out what the movie is about. All of which I surmised from the trailer.

    1. There's conflict within a relationship.

    2. The husband is at his wits end, and thus seeks to fix, repair or eliminate the "problem" by nontraditional means.

    3. After making the deal with "the devil" or "the fixer" (he's definitely not a marriage counselor), the husband appears to have found himself in a deeper quandary. We know that by the desperate look on his face as he says "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO MY WIFE?"

    4. " [CareyCarey] you have no idea whats going on". Well Ms. ERM, as you can see that is not true. And, since this is a suspense-thriller with bits of sci-fi, mystery, and romance, it's safe to say, at this point "we" and I know just enough to keep us on the edge of our seats.

    And btw, in reference to "no one talking" did you happened to read the graphics that appeared as the music heightened the suspense... "WHEN LOVE IS LOST" and "HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?". Yep, no one was talking but...

    So again, I believe you're missing the basic purpose of a trailer and what this trailer did for most of us. That reminds me, I am beginning to believe this genre, this type of indie film is simply not for you (not your cup of tea). There's no other way to view or understand your discontent because the premise of your argument has proven to be fruitless.

  • Erm | January 2, 2014 5:28 PM

    Trailer supposed to be interesting an tell you what the movie is about. If no one talking and all you see is sad people you have no idea whats going on. That is why this is a bad trailer. Boring and no info

  • Lauren | January 1, 2014 9:01 AMReply

    Where's the sizzle? It could be there's not much to build on from the source material but the trailer doesn't interest me.

  • erm | December 31, 2013 8:31 PMReply

    sorry, I stopped it at 0:38. almost a minute of just people looking sad an not sayin anything. not good. suppose to make people want to see movie.

  • Erm | January 2, 2014 5:33 PM

    I watch indie films. Good one have good trailers

  • D.A. | January 1, 2014 4:06 AM

    Do you guys even watch indie films? (better yet, have you even made a trailer for a film?)

    I wanted to see the movie after watching the trailer. I think there needed to be a slight change in order of certain key scenes. For instance, the part where the protagognist rhetorically asks if she's changing the locks on him, I would have put that in a bit later than earlier. I think there needed to be a gradual climb to that moment so that viewers can see that things are getting serious, and then start posting the graphic cards. But, I want to see this film. I'm curious to know what Howard's character does.

  • turner | December 31, 2013 9:36 PM


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