Thoughts on Trailers

It seems like everyone wants something different from a film’s trailer. Some viewers will yell at you if you show too much of the movie’s plot – “don’t give me any SPOILERS!” No spoilers. God, I can sympathize with people wanting to come into a film with fresh perceptions but I think some people get a little too ridiculous with their rantings about this stuff. They seem to argue so much about it that I begin to wonder whether they really even care what they’re arguing about or whether they’re just those type of people that like to argue, people who just need something to rail against. Also, with trailers I think there’s this naive sense that they’ve progressively gotten more explicit or revealing when I think if you take a very wide survey of trailers throughout American film history you’ll find that the majority of them reveal major plot points and key bits of dialog. In fact, one might even presume that trailers have actually gotten more “flashy” yet less revealing in modern years since once upon a time the trailer was a fundamental promotional tool while now it’s just another small part of a monolithic promotional landscape which includes all kind of different electronic avenues. If you track down many trailers for the seventies you’ll be surprised to even see what are practically “mini-movies” such as the one for The Getaway and many others. So it’s a very romantic notions to want to go back to “olden days” but I think in this case those days simply don’t exist, it’s a big myth.

I’m rather sensitive to this issue of trailers and their specific promotional purpose because I recieved many mixed opinions from the viewers of my primary Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare trailer. Here’s my bias: I like trailers which are simply collections of resonant imagery, interconnected on a certain visual level which goes beyond simply connecting the dots like some rudimentary plot outline. I think trailers are inherently visual and should engage one in a very direct visual way. Also, my movie Frankenstein is a very visual film so it’s not as if I’m pulling a hat trick on you; I mean, if you don’t like the way the trailer is cut you’ll probably end up wanting to make a voodoo doll of me after you watch the entire film. So my primariy directive when making the FBN trailer was to go for the visual, weird, and at the same time communicate this retro element which the film has by perhaps mimicing some of the editorial conventions of seventies “head” cinema. Also, I cut that first trailer way back in 2005 while I was still shooting the film; I just gotten this big bunch of Super-8 on miniDV back from Cinepost and was very excited to play around with it, so that’s what came out. Also I was playing around with the Mini-Moog and a few other audio synthesizers so I was also beginning to get that insanity going. So the visual imperative intermingled with the film-to-tape enthusiasm and the audio excitement to create something very interesting. Later, I edited another trailer which some people like a little better. It’s the one posted to ifilm. I personally like both of them very, very much.