Ideas to Editing a Movie Trailer

You need to become familiar with the movie. This includes having a general feel for the mood, setting, a tone of the movie. In other words, ask yourself, “Which scenes from this movie would represent what the movie has to offer?”

A comedy trailer would require understanding whether the humour is tongue-in-cheek or straightforward. That is, are the creators of this film self-aware of how silly the events in the film are or do the creators take themselves too seriously? Understanding the creator’s intent behind the tone of the film will help you decide what sort of music to use for each part of the trailer. The best course of action would be to sit the producer down for half an hour and dive into the movie with him or her, but we all know how difficult that is.

Ideas to Editing a Movie Trailer - Movie Reel - Shootfactory

Editing a Movie Trailer

Unfortunately, it is possible that you will have to edit a trailer for an unfinished film down the line. This means that the visuals and audio will not look or sound anything like the final product. Furthermore, the music is sometimes temporary. Some film creators choose to release multiple trailers throughout the production process. In such an event you would need to decide whether to begin from scratch or edit the trailer further to incorporate changes to the finished product. Of course, your client needs to approve these changes and needs to let you know if his or her budget can handle them. These projects are usually more time-consuming because you will be working with a limited amount of information.

In these special cases, be honest with yourself and see what sticks out the most in the film. Namely, find the most memorable scenes and try to understand why those scenes stand out from the rest. Some creators will have specific scenes or characters in mind for the trailer, while others may prefer to seek feedback from a selected few among their creative staff.

Tone of the Trailer

When deciding the tone of the trailer, you need to pay close attention to how you emotionally react when you see the film. More often than not, other people will feel similarly when they watch the entire film. Thus, it is important to reflect your honest emotional reactions in the tone you decide to use for the trailer. Jot down any dialogue that evoked any strong emotions in you. These lines often leave strong impressions on the audience and, thus, raise their interest in seeing the full version of the film.

The same applies to characters showing intense emotions or reactions to an event within the film itself, whether it is betrayal or success, most viewers will at least be curious to see more. Do keep in mind there are parts of the film that will not make to the release. Furthermore, you will see parts of the film that are not appealing enough to include in the trailer or that may attract the wrong target audience. The danger of attracting the wrong audience can impact both reception and success of the final product. An example of this would be to appeal to viewers who enjoy horror by using selected scenes or moments within a film that has little to no horror elements. Not only can such an illusion lead to disappointment but the more suitable audience may never give the film a chance. This is true of many genres.

Nail down the Specifics

Deciding a trailer’s tone is a group project. That is, you will often have to work with a copywriter or producer. Your client might have a specific set of instructions for you to follow, too. Some clients are difficult and restrict your work too much, slowing down the project’s progress. Other clients give you the freedom you need to exercise your creativity. There are benefits to each. The consequence of having more freedom with your work is that it usually increases the amount of time and effort you need to put into the project. Working under certain restriction limits usually speeds up the progression of the project at the cost of stifling the trailer’s full potential.

In other words, the copywriter, producer, and client are responsible for how long editing the tone of the trailer will take. You will receive constant feedback and, as such, your trailer will often change. Since the trailer is the product of many, you will need to be patient and will need to be a good listener. Do not be afraid to ask the client questions so as to avoid any time-consuming adjustments down the line.

Music for the Trailer

You, as the editor, are responsible for the trailer’s music. Music is essential for setting a proper tone for the trailer. The client and the size of their budget determines how much freedom you have with music choice. If the budget is small, then you will have to use the film’s score. However, the client must clear the film’s score for use of advertisement before you can include it in the trailer. Much like observing the gut feelings you get when watching a scene from the movie, a piece of music may pop into your mind while watching a scene.

If you do get music stuck in your head, examine what kind of tone it would create in the trailer. There is no shame in looking for inspiration through other trailers that convey a similar setting and tone. In fact, professional editors suggest starting from there.

Film vs Television

Television programmes today tend to have higher production values that rival those of films. Thus, editing a trailer for a television programmes is similar to editing a trailer for a film. The goal remains the same: you have to sell the film or television programmes to the audience and raise their interest in seeing the full presentation.

Challenges of Editing a TV Trailer

The main difference between a TV trailer and a film trailer is the length of the trailer. That is, a film trailer’s length ranges from two to two and half minutes while a television trailer can only last for thirty seconds. This means you need to select short snippets that fully convey the story of the television programme. Sometimes there is too much story for what the trailer allows, while in others there is not enough content and the trailer will need some serious filler. Some editors choose to add pauses and various text interludes when this happens. There is an emphasis on enticing the right target audience here as well.

Length of a Trailer

The editor should make sure that the trailer does not overstay its welcome. That is, an excellent trailer is concise and provides a clear idea of what the film has to offer. In addition, it is important to strike a balance between sharing story details and creating intrigue. Do not give everything away but also be sure to avoid dull scenes. Some audiences dislike when the scenes feel incoherent. Other audiences become more curious and look up the movie for more information. Some professional editors suggest using more story if the movie is weak, but it is up to you–and perhaps your client–to find this delicate balance.


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