4:50pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Three Steps to Building a Better Trailer in 2015
2015, it's almost your time to shine, and make up for all the mistakes that 2014 managed — which means, in part, coming up with a better way to create trailers for the big genre movies of the year. Big-budget films don't have to do it alone. Below is a three-step guide to building a better trailer.
Stop Talking, Bad Guys
Sure, in theory letting the villains of the piece voice their agendas is a quick way of letting audiences know what's at stake in the movie. The problem with this trope is that (a) cinema villains increasingly want very little other than nihilistic destruction, making their agendas very dull and (b) cinema villains — in genre movies, at least — are usually the least interesting part of their movies. Until Godzilla starts doing voiceovers for his next trailer, let's put this trend to rest. If we have to have characters monologue over the top of footage, let's hear the heroes respond to what we're seeing as if they're offering Blu-ray commentary on their own lives. "Woah, watch out, me! That TIE Fighter almost hit the Falcon. That would've been expensive to fix!" That's what we need to hear.
Yes, We Remember The Old Movies Too
Considering the importance of brand awareness and franchise-building these days, it's unsurprising that we get teasers and trailers that basically consist of scenes that remind us of other parts of earlier movies that we loved. (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I'm looking at you again.) However, this doesn't really act as the best advertisement for the movie in question, often reminding us instead that the original source material is already available for a rewatch and probably available for instant download or streaming right that very minute. Which is to say, while I don't doubt that Chris Pratt can make a movie worth watching with his very presence, judging from the Jurassic World trailer, I'm not yet convinced that I wouldn't be happier watching a Jurassic Park/Parks & Recreation double bill at home with a pizza. Trailers should offer something new, after all.
Always Remember: Leave the Audience Asking for More
There's no way that you can watch the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer without feeling overwhelmed and a little confused. Yes, the basic status quo is laid out through expeditionary dialogue, but the visuals — and the choice of music — are way out there in all the best ways. The Tomorrowland teaser, by contrast, is all about the restraint and what's not revealed. Both, however, leave you asking one simple question: "What is going on?" In short, they leave you needing more — an explanation, a clarification, just more. That's exactly what a trailer should do: make the viewer primed for another tease, if not the finished product. Instead of seeking to reassure and comfort with rehashes of what they already know, or explain and lay out ground rules via voiceovers that make the stakes clear, more trailers should follow the examples of these two above. Let 2015 be the year when teasers remember how to properly tease an audience, and we'll already be ahead of the game.