It’s How You Show It

Movie Trailers

Movie Trailers

The movie industry is one of the biggest sources for entertainment in modern society.  There are horror films, comedy films, action films, and drama films, and they all pretty much entice the audience for the exact same purpose-to make a disgusting load of cash. With that being said, movie production companies heavily emphasize movie trailers, since they pretty much make or break whether or not the film is successful, people will very rarely watch a movie that has a bad trailer.

The movies that probably rely most heavily on their trailers are horror films.  The way many production companies sell the public on a “scary movie” is by making their trailers truly horrifying.  In horror trailers, the shot length is noticeably short and quick, giving the viewer almost a quick glance at what is occurring in the plot.  To compliment the quick shots, horror film trailers are generally not very long.  For example, in the film The Ring, the trailer was only one minute and twenty nine seconds long.  In addition to the quick glimpses of action shots and the shortness of length, horror films in general play particularly eerie music in the background, which can give the viewer the feeling that something scary is about to happen. Most of the time, the music sets up the big flash shots, that can be flashes of typography or other weird forms of semiotics, which directly connotate themes from the movie the trailer is trying to hype up.  For example, in the recut trailer for Wedding Crashers, once the music shifted from upbeat to eerie, the semiotics emphasis shifted as well from comedic to scary.  For instance, the man tied to the bedpost was a connotation for the scariness of rape.  Another way some production companies hype up horror films, is by revealing, through direct cuts, only glimpses of the plot, using very little audio synchronization.  For example, in the recut trailer of Anchorman, the only time audio synchronization is used is in the very beginning of the trailer.  In addition, in the recut film for Anchorman, typography is used three times, (once in the beginning, middle, and end) to help summarize the plot of the film.  Very rarely, did Will Ferrell, the actor who played the main character, Ron Burgandy,, have to say anything to show the plot in the trailer.

Unlike in the recut Anchorman trailer, Will Ferrell, who played Brennan in the Steps Brother’s trailer, used audio synchronization as a tool to give the audience a glimpse of what the plot was like.  Audio synchronization seems to be extremely effective in comedy film trailers, since the funny “one liners” that happen in comedy movies are able to be presented to the viewers in the same ways that they would be presented in the actual comedy itself.  In addition to the audio synchronization that helps highlight the funny moments in comedy films, it seems as if cinematic production companies mix narration, music, and typography to excite the seemingly boring aspects of the plot, which is understandable since not every line in a comedy is going to make the audience ROFL. For example, in the Step Brothers trailer, a rock song is played in the background as shots of the plot flash before the viewers’ eyes.   In general, those particular shots were of medium length, which allowed the viewer to really get a grasp of each of the main scenes were all about.  A trailer in a slap-humor film like Step Brothers, is mainly trying to sell the audience on a couple of funny scenes, just enough so that public goes to see the movie; therefore, the scenes need to be long, in order to make sure that the audience is fully sold.

Like comedies, drama trailers tend to show elongated clips in order to help the viewer get a firm grasp of the plot.  Because dramatic films like Dirty Dancing, used long clips in the trailer, their trailers in are commonly on the longer side (long in terms of duration). For example, in The Notebook,’s long trailer, the audience sees long shots of love scenes and hardship in a slow pace form, which may try to grab the viewers emotional side, in order to persuade them to go see the movie.  Movie companies also try to grab their viewers’ emotions by using soft slow music in the trailer that connotates sadness or happiness in the film, which entices a certain audience to see the film.  Action films, like The Bourne Identity and Shooter, use film techniques to draw-in a certain, unique, crowd as well.  The clips, like in horror films, are short and quick in duration, and are meant to keep the audience on the seat of their pants at all times. Additionally, there is occasionally audio synchronization, but it is not the main point of emphasis in the film, since most viewers drawn to action films want to see action.  To hype up the action clips, fast-paced music is used to potentially pump up the audience’s adrenaline, and give the viewer the feel that they are indeed in the scene.  The recut trailer of Saw did this, and surprisingly, it didn’t need typography, since the shots were so fast paced and the music was so upbeat.

All in all, shown by the recut film trailers, without using these unique film techniques, it would be extremely difficult for the public to distinguish between which films to see and which ones not to see. By watching these trailers, it seemed that duration of the actual trailer had very little effect on the quality of the movie, since an audience can be scared just as much from a one-minute clip than from a five minute clip; however, the voiceovers did have an effect. Similarly to how the “God-like” voice spoke to Truman and gave all the audience watching the show chills, the voice over does the same for many of us, since the chills many of times keeps are the result of the anxiety caused by the viewer trying to guess “what is next” in the film.  By watching these normal trailers and recut trailers, it is blatantly visible, that in film, it’s not what you show, it’ s how you show it.

Trailers: Step Brothers, Dirty Dancing, The Notebook, Tropic Thunder,  The Bourne Identity, Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Ring,  Shooter

Recut Trailers: Wedding Crashers ( Funny to Scary),  Saw ( Scary to Action)  Anchorman (Funny to Scary)

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