Wheelhouse Creative co-founders Rob Lyons and Jeremy Workman had the opportunity to chat with Julia Cunningham and Mario Correa from the News & Notes show on Entertainment Weekly’s SiriusXM channel. Julia and Mario had “just about a million” questions about the trailer creation process, which Rob and Jeremy were more than happy to answer. Hear them chat about the history of trailers and the in’s and out’s of the trailer industry.
Listen to an excerpt of the interview above, or click to read more for some of our favorite questions and answers.
Julia: Would you kind of walk us through the process? Do you go to the movie, take notes, and storyboard out what you think a trailer would be?
Rob: We watch the movie several times to start. We’ll see it in the movie theater without taking notes or anything just to watch it and enjoy it the first time. A lot sticks with us from that first viewing and then we go back in. A copywriter sits with us and watches the film as well and they start writing some scripts. Mostly “In A World,” that kind of stuff. Then we go through those scripts and we weed out a bunch of them and the editing really begins during that process where we are just pulling. We’ll spend 10 days just breaking it apart in all of its component pieces and then we build it up again from that point.
Mario: What I notice often in trailers for foreign films is that there’s not a lot of dialogue. You don’t want to emphasize to folks “by the way you’re going to be reading the majority of this movie.” How do you guys figure out how much is enough without hitting folks over the head? Like Amour, and its in french and its depressing.
Julia: Here’s a hit song.
Jeremy: Yeah we use Miley Cyrus.
Rob: It’s a tricky balance. It used to be that you would totally hide all the dialogue. That was the voiceover, an American voiceover, and you would never know that it wasn’t an American film. That went out of taste probably 10 years ago, but now people are more comfortable with foreign language films. So we’re able to get a lot of dialogue in. It’s about pacing and using it at the right moment where the visual isn’t distracting from the screen, there is an alchemy there to figure out when the dialogue will work and when it won’t.
Jeremy: Its hard, having had some experience working on Hollywood movies. Its one thing when you have Leonardo DiCaprio, a big movie and there’s stars and there’s an $100 million budget. We were working on an Iranian movie, A Separation, that is about domestic problems. Whose lining up to go see that? It’s really hard to get people to go see that. With Amour it was about a woman dying and it creates these very, very hard challenges to sort of say this is an incredible movie that is worth your time and a better experience than going to see just some Friday night movie but it also is going to be something that you can go and bring your family to and go on a date, its hard. So we found this little sweet spot that we’re in to be really challenging, which is the reason why we like it.
Mario: It used to be that trailers were really long. Broadcast News was one of my favorite movies and they don’t say much for a full minute and then you saw like something and now it feels like you guys have a lot less time to really deliver. Is that part of the challenge too, just the timing itself has become more truncated.
Rob: We try to keep it under two minutes. A lot of studio trailers are two and a half minutes but we try to keep it under two. We make some that are a minute and a half.
Jeremy: But also think about how your viewing has changed. These days you are not in the theater watching trailers, you are online, on VOD, you have a remote in your hand, you are deciding whether or not to watch something immediately. So it becomes something that our clients, or the marketing execs, say you have to get to the good stuff so fast, whereas before in the 80s and 90s people were sitting in the movie theater. They were eating popcorn, obviously people’s attention span is shorter, but also their viewing habits are shorter so that trailers have to sort of now cut to the chase faster. We’re basically cutting Vine trailers now.
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