The other day I wrote about The 9 things you need to do if you really want to be a film maker. The very last item, Making a Bad Ass Trailer, may be most important item on the list. In fact, despite my continuing mantra of finish the film that I keep harping on, making a bad ass trailer may actually be more important than finishing the film itself. The reason I say this is I’ve had friends get work, or offers of investment purely off of a really awesome trailer for films that were not yet even finished.
A trailer only needs to be 30 seconds. There has to be at least 30 seconds of really awesome stuff in the hours and hours of footage you shot. Make everyone want to see your movie. Make the movie seem larger than life. If someone sees your movie and is disappointed because they had high expectations from the trailer…so what! At least they saw your movie. You can accomplish this by doing the following:
- Study other trailers – Watch the trailers of big movies. What makes you want to see a movie? Think about it…its just a 30 second advertisement. What makes you want to see a movie in those thirty seconds? What immediately turns you off?
- Sell the sizzle – Put the really cool shots in the trailer. Put the really cool lines of dialog. Do not explain the plot. People in marketing always say, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak”. The sizzle is the really cool stuff that makes your movie look awesome. The steak is the plot. All you want is for people to kinda get the gist of what is going on.
- Build curiosity – I’ve talked about this in a previous article: The cloverfield method of marketing. Lets say in your movie a witch casts some crazy spell that awakens a giant evil crocodile that comes out of the lake and attacks some campers. The trailer should basically be cool shots of a witch doing a creepy thing and some campers being attacked by something. You are telling your audience, “Something attacks some kids, and its scary”. That’s all they need to know. Furthermore, the less they know the more it builds curiosity. I definitely would not show the crocodile, or give any hints as to the fact that its a crocodile attacking. You want the audience to ask “What is attacking them? What is that witch doing?” If they ask those questions, then the only way to have them answered is to see the movie.
Remember, there is nothing more important to your filmmaking career than getting the most people possible to want to see your film. You must convince your target audience that your movie is worth investing their valuable time (and hopefully their valuable money). There is no better vehicle to do this than a really great trailer.