After going through trailer after trailer after trailer, I had to eventually stop being so picky, aka procrastinating, and actually get started. I finally chose the movie I Think I Love My Wife (Chris Rock, 2007), a romantic comedy of sorts, and re-cut it into a horror trailer titled I Think I Killed My Wife. The original movie outlined the life of a married man who was bored with his marriage and becomes obsessed with the idea of other women although he never actually cheats on his wife. I changed the storyline and made the main character (Chris Rock) into a delusional serial killer who preys on women and eventually kills his own wife. I have to admit that the hardest part of the assignment was actually getting myself to go to the lab and work on the project. After I went to work on the project for the first time and started messing around with the clips I wanted to use and playing around with the audio, I realized that I was enjoying it and having fun switching things around. It was only then that I noticed I had been sitting there for past an hour. I guess I got lost in the rabbit hole…
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Once I selected which shots I wanted to use from the movie I had to come up with a specific order. This is the part that took up the most time, at least for me. It makes sense though, changing the essence of something, misrepresenting reality, can’t always be easy. What I relied on the most was the use of semiotics. In particular, I was focused on sharing my understanding and vision for the re-cut trailer I created, and the only way to do so was through the use of semiotics. “Research utilizing the semantic differential has shown that,
while the meanings of most concepts are subject to personal interpretation and
subjective feelings, the range of variation is not simply a matter of randomness,
but forms a socially based pattern” (Danesi,2004, p. 7). It is through this shared cultural understanding that my trailer concept works, because if our culture didn’t have a pool of established ideas that essentially are horror, then it would be hard to convey the sense of what the audience is supposed to feel. It is precisely because of this pool of semiotics that essentially have been defined as “horror” that the horror genre can exist. In fact, “any particular film of any definable group is only recognizable as part of that group if it is, in fact, an imitation of that which came before,” and therefore it makes sense to keep re-using semiotics which are culturally accepted to mean ‘scary’ (Sobchak, 1975, p. 196).
To convey to the audience that they were indeed supposed to be on edge I selected certain shots in the movie and recreated them into new sequences, essentially changing the meaning (Dick, 2002, p. 13). When I was looking through re-cut trailers for the previous blog, I noticed that simple transitions were used most of the time. So I did the same and relied mostly on the straight cut where “one image instantaneously replaces another,” and this fast pacing helped add to the sense that this trailer was a horror. Because “we belong to a visual culture adept at the transmission and reception of visual information,” it would seem only natural that the most important content in the trailer would be the visual material, the actual shots (Hunt, Marland, Rawle, 2010, p. 3). But what I found was that the audio was really the most important content, at least the most important in conveying genre.
The best part of this project was that it had minimal restrictions and therefore was really easy to be creative with. I have never edited video before and this was fun and relatively easy. The biggest choices I had to make were what movie I wanted to use, what scenes I was going to include and in what order, what audio to incorporate, and whether I wanted to use narration or type in the trailer. The biggest thing I would change if I could re-do the project would be my movie choice. I like I Think I love My Wifeand I am happy with the outcome but I think this project, especially the presentation portion of it, is more effective when the movie is a little more well known. As for the scene selection I think I honestly picked all the shots that could actually be interpreted as scary and I wouldn’t change the content of my trailer. I picked scenes that when paired with eerie music would be identified as scary. I found myself using simple shots, such as a clock ticking or a train passing or a dollar floating in the air, as my transition shots between awkward scenes. These shots show mundane every day things that in and of themselves are not scary. This is where audio comes in. I layered audio quite a bit. I had two tracks playing throughout most of the video with additional occasional sound effects interspersed throughout. I had originally tried finding one song that I wanted to use for the entire trailer, then I decided I would cut songs together, but I finally combined the two songs and I think they work quite well together because one is a scary tune mash up while the other is more like background noise. It is really the audio that is doing most of the hard work, if it weren’t for the audio I would not have been able to transform a comedy into a horror. And finally, I decided not to include any sort of narration. I couldn’t use voice narration, or any audio from the movie really, because it was always paired with cheery music or happy voices. I didn’t use any type narration in the trailer either, except for the title at the very end of the trailer. I don’t know if I would change this or not in the future. I like the trailer without any interruptions and most of the re-cut trailers and original trailers in general have minimal type. It helps with the flow of things and since my trailer already has sort of choppy transitions I didn’t want to add any more pauses and take away from the plot.
To be honest I was expecting multiple headaches because of this project, but surprisingly the headaches were minimal. Everything went pretty smoothly at first but I did encounter difficulties every now and then. My audio wouldn’t work whenever I switched computers and I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time, I finally re-imported the movie’s audio from my folder onto the project and it worked. I don’t know if this was the solution but it worked! I also had a couple close calls where I couldn’t find my project, I swiftly figured out that I hadn’t saved my folder on the D Drive, so crisis averted there as well. What I found the most helpful was Lynda.com, their tutorials are awesome and I would encourage any future students to check it out during their video projects. Trust me it saves time and stress. Other than those few panicky moments the video project was not as terrible or overwhelming as I had initially assumed it to be. I learned how to use Premiere, even if it is only a basic understanding of it, and that feels like a major accmoplishment. The training sessions in the lab with Dr. Delwiche were insanely helpful, so new folks, make sure to attend those ready to learn all the tricks. I also highly suggest reading the mailing list questions and replies because most of the time people are asking what you need to know, and if not, you can always jump in with a question of your own. Also, I think most of you will procrastinate for the longest time. Don’t. It is better for you and your grade if you just start it a little at a time because I found that when I left the computer lab and gave myself time and distance from the project I was able to go back and see what I needed to add or change. But overall, I think you’ll learn that changing reality can be quite fun, so don’t stress out, and good luck!
Danesi, M. (2004). Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Studies in linguistic and cultural anthropology, v. 1. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), 196.
Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.
Robert Edgar-Hunt, John Marland, and Steven Rawle (2010) The language of film. Lausanne: AVA Academia.
theistobias, Scary Music, Youtube.
Coptersa007, Scary Horror Music, Youtube.