Introduction & specific links to the course readings
The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy increases with time. We live in a world where change is inevitable. The system in which we live is constantly changing, evolving, recreating itself. This does not only apply to a biological level. Indeed, one of the mediums in which this law is most clear is through human creation, especially that of art. Comic creator Grant Morrison, known for his work with the Animal Man series, explores the power of art to create many different parallel universes. He explains that “entire universes fit comfortably inside our skulls. Not just one or two but endless universes can be packed into that dark, wet, and bony hollow without breaking it open from the inside. The space in our heads will stretch to accommodate them all” (Morrison, 2011, 7). Artists are powerful and can bring many different universes to life from the recesses of their own minds. Morrison suggests that comics and the “fictional ‘universe’ ran on certain repeating rules but could essentially change and develop beyond the intention of its creators…” that “…it was an evolving, learning, cybernetic system that could reproduce itself into the future using new generations of creators who would be attracted like worker bees to serve and renew the universe” (Morrison, 2011, 8). Just as comics continue to be reinvented and altered to create new realms of creation, so do recut trailers.
Overview & Rationale for creative choices
I recut the heartwarming film about a town that learns how to embrace dancing, Footloose, into a horror story of a stalker. I modeled my trailer after the common horror movie trailers that are shown today. These trailers tend to begin with a sequence of several happier shots before moving abruptly to more disturbing shots. I therefore began my trailer with images of people dancing and running with smiling faces before switching to a sequence of shots with more unsettling images, expressions, and tones, such as the female protagonist standing in the shadows behind a door. I thought this shot effectively portrayed the incoming horror in the sequence that followed, for it plays with the symbolic meaning of darkness and hiding in the shadows. I also used more emotional dialogue (a preacher yelling a contentious sermon) to build the tension leading into the final sequence of violent events. The preacher’s yelling coupled with the images of the mysterious newcomer helps to evoke an unsettled feeling that horror trailers typically deliver to their audiences.
The background music is also vital to depict the film as a certain genre, as well as to help tell the story. While many horror trailers use an eerie instrumental soundtrack, full of jarring sounds, I decided to model this trailer after some of the more modern trailers that have used popular songs with lyrics to unnerve the viewer. I also chose this technique because I felt that the story needed some help from the music. I began the trailer with the instrumental song “Frozen By Tragedy” by the band Cryonics for its mysterious quality, for I didn’t want to give the horror away too explicity but I did want to hint at it. Then to drive the point home of the trailer as a horror, I switched to Radiohead’s “Creep” and made it louder to build tension. The lyrics help provide some plot clues. I chose portions of the song that had more heavy guitar to match the faster pace at the end.
Almost all of the horror trailers that I watched transitioned from a slower pace at the beginning to a much faster pace by the end. The pace was increased not only by music, but especially by their use of montage sequences where the “ the shots are arranged so that they follow each other in rapid succession, telescoping an event or several events of some duration into a couple of seconds of screen time” (Dick, 2002, 14). This succession is much faster by the end of these trailers, which helps to get the viewers’ adrenaline pumping. Therefore, I tried to create a montage of violent clips with a very rapid succession towards the end of the trailer.
To make the sequence of shots smoother, I used transitions between most of the shots. For most of the shots I used a “dissolve dip to black” transition for I liked the continuous feel it created as one shot faded to black and then the next shot faded in. I varied the length of these transitions depending on the pace I wanted, using shorter transition lengths to create a more abrupt sequence of shots. To transition from the climax for the trailer, where the female protagonist confesses “he is coming” for her, to the violent montage, I used a starker transition. I actually made this length a bit longer to draw out the tension, and rather than have it fade to black, I had it “dissolve dip to white” to have a flash of bright white to surprise the viewer and change the tone of the trailer for the end.To end the trailer, I used the end of a shot of Ren, where he is turning his head. I matched this with the closing of the “Creep” song. Then I had it fade to black and show the title and “Coming Soon” images.
Frustrations, difficulties, and solutions
One of the biggest difficulties I had while making this recut trailer was managing to actually tell a story in only 2 ½ minutes without using too many titles. The trailer therefore relies heavily on the soundtrack. I also found it difficult to find dialogue from the film itself that would tell the new story. Arranging the many different subclips I accumulated was very frustrating, though it was less so when I discovered the “ripple delete option.” Finding a consistent workplace also became a challenge: the Comm lab was often full. My USB was very helpful, for I had to work in CLT quite a bit as well. However, the most difficult part for me was the pacing. I knew that I wanted the pace to get much faster at the end, but I wasn’t sure how to build up to it. It helped to watch many different horror trailers, such as Texas Chainsaw 3D, and observe when exactly the tone changes as well as all the different cuts.
Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.
Grant Morrison (2011). Supergods: What masked vigilantes, miraculous mutants, and a sun god from Smallville can teach us about being human. New York: Spiegel & Grau.
Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), 196.