The History Of Film Trailers<br />Ceiridwen Fowles<br />
What is a Film Trailer?<br />A film trailer is a vital piece of marketing for feature films. Usually shown at the beginning of a film of a similar genre in the cinemas – but shown also on television and at the beginning of DVD’s and Blu-ray – they advertise up-coming films to attract the attention of their target audiences. They are usually quite short and therefore go to the extremes of their genre, for example, if the film was a comedy, the editing would be fast paced, as would the music, to amplify the tone of the film, but if it was a horror the editing would be slow and the shots be de-saturated or dark.<br />Film trailers have become increasingly popular searches on online video sharing sites such as ‘Youtube’, and film companies are taking advantage of this by creating many trailers and other campaigns in an attempt to go viral. <br />
The Beginning of Film Trailers<br />The first promotional trailer was not for a feature film, it was actually a promotional reel for a musical, produced by Nils Granlund, which showed excerpts of the production and raised awareness of it. Granlund also created the first trailer for a film in 1914, which was produced for a Charlie Chaplin film.<br />Up until the late 1950’s film trailers were made by National Screen Service which was contracted by the film companies to create the trailers for upcoming films and the company lasted until the 80’s. <br />The early trailers consisted of short clips showing the key features of the film alongside narration, a big score soundtrack and screens with text and a cast run. An example of this type of trailer is the one for Casablanca. <br />
The Change<br />As films started to change in the 60’s, so did trailers. The more liberal, freer age of culture brought different types of films which would need to be advertised differently. <br />The new breed of films spawned new trailers with new styles and ways. One unconventional trailer was actually inspired by a short film.<br />The trailer for Stanley Kubricks ‘Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ was inspired by the 1961 avant-garde short film ‘Very Nice Very Nice’ by Canadian Arthur Lipsett. The similarities between the two are very apparent, and the trailer ends up being completely different from the one for ‘Casablanca’.<br />
<- An Excerpt from the short film ‘Very Nice Very Nice’<br />Stanley Kubricks ‘Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ -><br />
Andrew J. Kuehn<br />Andrew J. Kuehn was a very influential trailer producer. He changed the way trailers were made in his 1964 trailer for ‘Night of the Iguana’ which is when he created the company Kaleidoscope Films. The company worked for three decades creating some of the biggest trailers for the biggest films and film makers of the time, including many Spielburg films, for example, Kuehn produced the original trailer for ‘Et’.<br />Kuehn was presented with the Cannes lifetime achievement award and is credited with other 1000 trailers. <br />Kuehn is quoted in saying: <br />‘A trailer has but one goal: to draw audiences out of their houses and into a theater. To do that you have to set up a sense of urgency. In the process of arriving at that forced pace, we advanced the style of editing. We really pushed the envelope in terms of what audiences would accept.’<br />
<- The last minute of Kuehn’s trailer for ‘Night of The Iguanas’<br />The Kuehn produced trailer for ‘ET’ -><br />
The Format of Trailers<br />Trailers tend to follow the same pattern as a film. They have a beginning, or introductory sequence, followed by a problem, and then a solution. This shows the audience what the films are about, however it has been argued that this format reveals the whole story in the trailer. Some people suggest that all the best bits are put into the trailer to make the film appeal, but the rest of the feature leaves a lot to be desired. A recent example of this is in the trailer for the new romantic comedy film ‘Life As We Know It’ .<br />As trailers have three ‘acts’, it is common for them to have three seperate songs, which are quite often not included in the films as trailers are made before the post-production has finished and the soundtrack is one of the last things to be added. This was not the case for ‘ET’ or films with quite distinctive soundtracks. <br />Some trailers also include sequences that are not actually in the film. This is most famously seen in the six minute trailer for Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ in which the whole trailer is shot post-production and even included a different actress for the main role. However some things are in the trailers that have been cut from the original film. An example of this is in the ‘Spiderman’ trailer in which there is a scene of criminals near the World Trade Center, where the film was released soon after the terrorist attacks when the area was still very sensitive.<br />
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