To start, I will just say that despite my lack of knowledge on video editing and usual disdain for anything that requires me to think creatively, I found a unique sense of pleasure in doing this project. For my recut movie trailer, I transformed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004) from a comedy into The Legend of Ron Burgundy: AngerMan, an action/thriller that starts with a version of a romance/drama. I did this by arranging the scenes to make it appear that Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) broke Ron Burgundy’s (Will Ferrell) heart, leading him into an action-packed rage. In this rage, Ron attacks numerous people, including Veronica, several innocent civilians, and a group of “mobsters” (actually opposing news teams); sparing no one and showing no remorse whatsoever. As will be discussed more later, I attempted to guide the action and tell the story primarily through music and other types of audio. By doing so, I tried to use a minimal amount of typography to tell the story. All audio and typography decisions were made carefully in order to ensure the enhancement of captivating the audience with my fabricated storyline.
Specific links to course readings
In starting the process of creating this recut trailer, I found it particularly helpful in referencing back to the points Bernard Dick makes in Anatomy of Film when talking about editing. As advice in determining the rhythm of the scene, he states “the best filmmakers vary speed, movement, and pace, knowing that long strips of film produce a slower rhythm, short strips a more rapid rhythm” (21). When first reading this it seemed painfully obvious; however, when diving into the process of attempting to piece together scenes, I found that it is in fact not very obvious to do such a thing. The sequencing of shots was probably the most important, and most difficult, aspect of arranging shots so it was nice to have Dick’s expertise on the subject to fall back on.
Given that in trailers a long story must be summarized and conveyed in a very limited amount of time, references to semiotics and genre were extremely helpful. In respect to semiotics, I paid especially close attention to the music I chose and the signs that it conveyed. In class, it seems as though we focused primarily on visual signs, but I found through this project that audio effects can equally, and often times even more so, be used as great signals. Even Marcel Danesi falls victim to this when in “What is Semiotics?” he gives only visuals in his definition of a sign; “A sign is anything—a color, a gesture, an object, a mathematical equation, etc.” (Danesi, 2). I found this interesting, but in didn’t hinder me in any way when deciding on how to apply semiotics in my trailer. In addition to Danesi, I also referred to Edgar-Hunt, Marland, and Rawle’s The Language of Film to further my understanding that “if a film is to have a desired effect, the film-maker needs to know exactly how the screen communicates” (7). I will discuss in more details how these findings impacted my decisions on the music I chose and what impact the music is supposed to have when I discuss the rationale for my creative choices.
Finally, as previously indicated, understanding the role of genre was extremely helpful for me in creating the story that I told in my recut trailer. The Legend of Ron Burgundy: AngerMan is a typical action/thriller movie and follows that same pattern that the countless action/thrillers before it did. Given this, it is necessary to refer to what Thomas Sobchak notes in “A Genre Film: A Classical Experience” when he states, “any particular film of any definable group is only recognized as part of that group if it is, in fact, an imitation of that which came before” (196). Due to this, it was necessary that I make my trailer imitate that of all other films in this genre. By doing so, semiotics come into play once again and the audience recognizes many unstated things (such as a group of people meeting in a back alley means they are about to fight), leaving more time to address other things in the limited amount of time that is available in movie trailers.
Rationale for creative choices
Creativity is not exactly my strong suit, and therefore I spent a large amount of time fighting with myself on important creative choices. For instance: what font to use? What music to use? Do I use transitions? And if so, what transitions? All of these choices were very difficult to make, but were necessary to clearly tell the story of AngerMan. First, I chose to use music from the Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012) to play in the background of the main action scenes. I did so because that particular audio cut is a classic and automatically triggers the recognition that a scene is part of an action/thriller. It was sort of an homage (if that’s possible for me to do) to how great Skyfall, and all James Bond movies really, were. Second, I used two different types of font. Initially I used a white cursive; I did so because I felt that such a font fit the scene of the drama/romance given that white and cursive are both formal and are often used in wedding invitations. Later in the trailer, I used a standard font that was plain, yet bold. I made this decision because the plain font doesn’t take away from the ongoing action, yet the boldness sends the same strong statement that Ron Burgundy is making. Third, I used several transitions in places where I thought the cuts were too unnatural and jumpy. However, I used only simple dissolves (except for the final title shot) because I feel it is more natural looking. Also, most of the action/thriller movie trailers that I watched tried to limit their use of transitions and to make them as unnoticeable as possible so that the pacing is fast and captivates the audience with the unrelenting action.
Overall, I am quite happy with the creative choices I made and think that they combine to make a trailer for an action/thriller with a similar structure and pattern to the trailers of actual movies.
Frustrations, difficulties, solutions
My first frustration was with basic creative choices (the ones previously noted); they were very simple and just took time to think about and analyze class readings and other trailers to solve. Another frustration was that piecing the shots together to make a smooth-flowing sequence was rather difficult for me. I watched several videos on shot positioning and transitions to help with this, but ultimately I had to just play around with both positioning and transitions for a while to find my personal preference. Next, I had difficulties with the transitions themselves. I read that if you do not have enough video on one side of the transition that it will have to repeat clips to make up for that, so I also read numerous ways to fix that. Unfortunately, I was never able to solve this issue for two of my transitions so there are a few brief repeated clips. My last problem is a problem that wasn’t encountered while creating the trailer, but exists now: my trailer is slightly shorter than 90 seconds. Once I realized this problem I had already sequenced my shots and audio and was happy with it, so I decided to not attempt to add more.
Despite these numerous frustrations and difficulties, I am very pleased with my work and the way my final project turned out. For future students, I think it is most important (although I’m sure it sounds ridiculous coming from a fellow student) to start well in advance. Also, it is very helpful to have a good understanding of the methods that trailers use to tell their story as well as concepts discussed in class readings that cover film techniques.
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.
Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), 196.