We were standing in line waiting to buy tickets to Joe
Dirt and eavesdropping on conversations ranging from tales
of the heavy partying the night before to the extravagance
of current movie prices when we heard a comment that struck
and intrigued us. "I hope we get a seat in time to catch
the previews. I like them more than the movies most of the
time," the girl behind us said. "Me too, most of
the time the movie sucks," her date responded.
We looked at each other and nodded; they were right. Many
people that we know have told us they enjoy movie trailers--in
many cases more than they enjoy the movie itself. So we decided
to sit down in the office of one of Americana's very own Think
Tank Fellows (who happens to work at Craig Murray Productions
making movie trailers), Don Wilson. "How," we wondered,
"were these popular forms of Americana made?"
"A call will come in from a client at one of the major
studios telling us they're sending over reels of a new release,
and they need ideas on how to market it. Almost always, the
first rough cut is what they send, so it has bad temp music
or no music at all. We see it in its worst shape, and we're
supposed to be creative
it can be very challenging!"
"We have very few restrictions as to what scenes we
can use, and, yes, quite often we have shots and dialogue
in the trailers that are never seen in the finished movie."
"After the film comes in, we sit down and watch it together,
then individually. The writers meet, brainstorm ideas, then
they each write scripts for the trailer. We'll select maybe
ten scripts and send them to the studio for feedback. Once
they greenlight a script, then we begin the editing process.
Suddenly we are under a deadline. No matter how many times
a client will tell us they want us to take our time and make
it great, what they really want is a lot of product as fast
as possible, but I do think our best work comes under pressure,
no time to over-think things, instinct and experience work
in a more pure form."
"Unfortunately, sometimes our first cuts are our favorites
and never see the light of day. No matter how well liked they
are in the beginning, it seems the studios can't accept that
they can be good this early in the campaign. We often joke
that we should take our first ten cuts and hide them from
the studios until the panic of the movie's pending release
sets in and then send them."
"Music selection for a campaign is nearly as important
as the pictures. We will often spend entire days listening
to CDs and searching the Internet for new music or that perfect
cut that just slaps you on the forehead. The right song can
pretty much carry a campaign on its back. The trailer for
A Bug's Life was in a doldrum until we found The Who's
'Baba O'Riley.' The verse starts off 'out here in the fields
you know, where the bugs are. Man, that song absolutely brought
that campaign to life."
"There are sometimes fifteen to twenty versions of a
trailer and probably one hundred television spots created
to end up with one trailer for theaters and maybe five or
six television spots. It seems every two or three days there
is a 'new direction' coming from the studio as to how they
want to market the movie. Rough cuts are tested in shopping
malls all over the country and as results come in, the focus
on what the public likes becomes the predominate direction
to follow. Giving away too much of the movie is not important
in terms of how the movie is marketed. Getting the movie to
open well and get momentum early on is what's important, and
it is an art form to pull that off. "
"These things are style setters. We are always looking
for the hippest graphics and super clever ways to juxtapose
things whether it is that way in the feature or not. We know
what we're doing, and we do it well. I can't tell you how
many times we've taken a really bad movie and gotten it to
open in the top four or five positions. Curiosity will get
people at least one or two more weekends and if we can do
that, we've done our job!"
"But I must say that the job is a great one and when
I sit back and realize that millions of people will see my
work and millions of dollars will be spent at the box-office
because of my work, I get a bit humbled."