For my recut trailer I transformed Dumb & Dumber (Peter Farrelly, 1994), a ridiculously idiotic and totally hilarious comedy, into a drama. Despite never having worked with Adobe Premiere prior to this assignment, I had a lot of fun just messing around with all the tools and trying to achieve different effects based on my aesthetic choices. I used my knowledge of action drama trailers that I gained from our previous assignment as a tentative list of the general characteristics that these trailers feature. While making the trailer was very challenging and quite frustrating at times, it was pretty awesome to tie together all the things that we’ve been discussing in this class and applying them hands on in a really fun and creative way.
Specific Links to Course Readings
This project required me to somewhat become what Bernard Dick would refer to as an editor. My main task was “to select the shots or decide which portion of a shot should be used” and to “pu[t] into dramatic form the basic filmed material,” in order to achieve a different genre than what was originally intended (Dick, 2002, p.22, 23). Without any other choices of scenes or shots to work with, it was very challenging to find aspects of the original film that would work, under different circumstances, as signifiers for an entirely different genre. As Thomas Sobchak wrote in “Genre Film: A Classical Experience,” “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” (Sobchak, 1975, p. 196). This means that audiences are able to classify films into particular genres because of the similarities and imitations between other films that they have previously seen. For this reason, as an action drama trailer, my recut trailer had to adhere to “previous models, and a preoccupation with stylistic and formal matters” that have in the past been specifically characteristic of action and drama films (Sobchak, 1975, p. 196). In order to achieve these characteristic features the use of semiotics became extremely important. As Danesi noted, “signs allow us to refer to things and ideas, even though they might not be physically present for our senses to perceive” (Danesi, 2004, p. 5). In my video trailer, I tried to use different signs that would stand out to viewers as symbolic of action drama trailers, without having to explicitly say that the trailer is an action drama.
Rationale for Creative Choices
I think that what makes my recut trailer easily identifiable as an action drama is my choice in music. I used Clint Mansell’s Lux Aeterna, which was originally used in the 2000 drama film Requiem for a Dream. I chose this piece because I wanted an orchestral piece without lyrics that had a lot of rapid pacing and climactic moments. I tried to match up the climactic moments of the song with the elements of the trailer that I wanted to emphasize the most. However, because I wanted to use a continuous stream of the original audio to avoid choppiness, this was not always possible. In these cases I chose to alter the volume of different sections of my trailer and add in audio transitions that would rise and fall as I wanted them to. This became especially important at the climactic ending of my trailer, since the highest level of volume increased a sense of anticipation and anxiety.
My trailer mainly consisted of short, fast paced shots that created an air of suspense and excitement. However, I felt that in order to fully express what was going on in my recut trailer, these shots, short as they may be, had to be sequenced in a way that somewhat told a story. For this reason, I sequenced my subclips in a way that gave the timeline a budding romance in the beginning, a tragic affair in the middle, and a climactic and unsettling end. I used a few longer shots with dialogue to create a narrative flow that carried the trailer plot without the need of textual or audio narration. Most of the action or drama trailers that I watched didn’t use audio or textual narration because the scenes shown in the trailer tend to speak for themselves and seem to be geared towards generating excitement and anxiety about the elements of the film. I chose to do the same thing in my trailer by using subclips that could be added to a rapid narrative sequence that showed plot direction.
I chose to use just two video transitions, dip to black and film dissolve, throughout my trailer in order to keep a consistent and connected feel. I chose the dip to black transition specifically because I wanted a fade out that would separate the different clips I used to either show a lapse in time or create a dramatic pause. I selected the film dissolve because I liked the way that it connected specific scenes from my subclips that contrasted and controlled the separateness created by the other transition. This specific transition was especially useful in the romantic montage that I created in the beginning. For the actual content of the clips that I chose to use in my project, I preferred shots that had a close up of the characters facial expression. I used shots of Lloyd’s (Jim Carrey) face that showed deep sadness, such as in the scene when he discovers the affair, and also uncontrollable rage, such as in the climactic scene at the end. The main scene that I used that featured dialogue/audio synchronization was the clip of Lloyd saying that he was “sick and tired of having nobody.” Specifically this scene added an extremely depressing element to the trailer that foreshadowed the ending with the aid of the trailer music. This aided the dramatic nature of the recut trailer and enabled me to manipulate the original version into a believable alternative.
Frustrations, Difficulties, and Solutions
Oddly enough, despite my first time use of Adobe Premiere, most of my frustrations and difficulties were in the aesthetic choices and actual recutting of the original film. The biggest difficulty I had in creating this trailer was, by far, dealing with Jim Carrey’s RIDICULOUS faces. When I first started searching for clips to use I began to deeply regret my choice in film, but I decided that I would continue to try to work around all the stupid faces, motions, and dialogue that the original film entails. Ultimately I accomplished this by finding scenes that were seemingly normal and cutting them off right before they reached the funny part. I often had to take tiny shots that eliminated the dialogue that was of no use to me and then piece back together a new sequence, while smoothing out the rough edges with video transitions. Also, I originally planned on using two different songs: one that was light-hearted and romantic for the beginning montage, and one that was dramatic and climactic for the action sequences that occurred after the revelation of the affair. I tried really hard to make this work, but in the end I discovered that for this particular trailer, the two types of songs that I originally wanted were too drastically different to really mesh cohesively, so I opted to use the dramatic music throughout. The only real issue that I had with the Adobe program was that I couldn’t figure out how to move over the sequence that I had on my timeline in order to insert a scene at the beginning without having to individually scoot things over, which often resulted in me messing up the sequences and transitions that I had just been working on…and a lot of obscenities. However, after watching a couple of video tutorials on Lynda.com, I figured out that there is a tiny, little button on the timeline tool bar that allows you to select and move entire tracks! However, with this method you have to be careful with linked audio and video subclips! That will really mess things up by deleting anything under where you are now placing the track! My main advice for those who decide to take on this endeavor in the future (and please, please take it) is to watch the video tutorials on Lynda.com! Even if you think you know what you are doing or that you can figure it out, they really do save you so much time and you can learn a lot of new things. Personally, I feel that my project turned out so much better because of the tutorials that I watched.
Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.
Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), 196.
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.