When planning and producing our film trailer, there were many elements of other films, television shows, and their respective trailers which influenced our group's decisions.
One of the trailers which we came to look to the most throughout our pre-production research was the trailer for Joel Schumacher's 2010 film "Twelve". "Twelve" is a film that touches on many similar themes to our own, and is targeted towards the same audience. The element to the trailer for "Twelve" that we found the most interesting was the retrospective opening.
The trailer for "Twelve" opens with a long panning shot of Chace Crawford's character, White Mike, at an emotional low point.
This single shot is intercut with flashbacks to the protagonist's most poignant memories; memories of his deceased mother. This effect is used as an establishing sequence for the audience. It establishes a key moment from the protagonist's past, which in turn establishes a key element to his emotional state and establishes how the following events shown in the trailer started to unfold in the film's world.
As a group, we liked this technique because it was quite unique and drew audience interest. (In an industry as competitive as the film industry, a drawing first impression from promotional material is essential to a media product's success.)
We used this technique with a similar single long panning shot of our protagonist at her low point, at the pit of her story; when she has become homeless. Although this showed a specific key moment in our plot, whereas the trailer for "Twelve" just showed an unspecified moment when the protagonist's low emotional state was open to the audience, we still felt this was not a plot spoiler; it's not the ending of our film, it's the pit of the protagonist's story. Rather than being a plot spoiler, we felt that it would be an incentive to the audience to see the film to see how the character recovers from the situation.
We considered using a still long shot which zooms into a close up shot of our protagonist, but felt that the pan, in the direct style of the "Twelve" trailer, worked far better. The pan's moving to focus on our protagonist on the street was a far better representation of this shot being from a passing person's (or the audience's) perspective, in contrast to the flashbacks which are from the perspective of our protagonist.
As in the "Twelve" trailer, we used literal flash transitions between our panning shot and the flashbacks. However, we developed upon "Twelve"'s use of poignant memories, which were used to establish their protagonist's mental state which was key to establishing their film's plot, by using happier memories, which establish the difference between where our protagonist has come from to where she is now, which is key to establishing our film's plot.
Other trailers we looked at also influenced decisions we made about the production of our trailer's opening. For example, we looked at the trailer for "Black Swan" as it is another film which touches onto similar themes to our own, and found it's use of color interesting.
The washed out effect represented the emotional draining Natalie Portman's character Nina suffered due to the strain of her career, and we decided to emulate this coloring on the panning shot in our trailer's opening with a color filter in Sony Vegas Pro 9.0 to represent the emotional draining of our protagonist due to the strain of her career.
We developed upon this technique by using a warmer color filter on the flashbacks in our trailer opening to contrast with our protagonist's drained, "cold", emotional state after her career has taken everything from her, with the happier, "warmer", emotional state she was in prior to modeling.
The same washed out effect was used in another trailer we looked at, for the documentary "Picture Me". In this trailer, washed out, over bright, coloring is used to represent the documentary's exposé style, "shining the light" on the modeling and fashion industries.
We decided to emulate this effect on scenes from our trailer which were inspired by true stories we had read about in the media and seen in other films and television shows, scenes which were more exposing. However, after showing a sequence from our trailer to our Media Studies class, who are close in age to our target audience, the feedback we received was negative towards this decision. Class members thought the differences in coloring on different scenes in the sequence made it feel disjointed. So, we reversed the decision and made the coloring on our trailer, post the opening, constant.
As mentioned, many of the scenes shown in our trailer were inspired by true stories we had read about in the media and seen in other films and television shows, and a few were inspired by fictional stories with an element of truth. This was because we wanted our film/trailer to have as high a level of verisimilitude as possible, and for us to be able to tell as honest and exposing a story as possible. For these stories, we looked to print and online fashion media sources which are targeted towards our audience (such as more "accessible", lower end fashion magazines like "Grazia", and more popular online fashion blogs like "The Cut"), and documentaries and television shows like "Picture Me" and "The Beautiful Life". We took themes from real stories, such as the sexual harassment charges associated with photographer Terry Richardson and often speculated about extreme diets/eating disorders, and developed upon them by amalgamating them into one plot.
We turned this plot into a sequence of key scenes for our trailer by editing to a piece of music with a strong beat and a mood which reflected our film, a technique we drew from, again, watching trailers for films similar to our own, such as "Twelve" and "The Social Network".
Post it's opening, the trailer for "Twelve" picks up pace with the song "Kids" by MGMT, to reflect the should-be innocence of the film's characters, before progressing into the even faster-paced and more erratic "MK Ultra" by Muse, to reflect the actual insanity and downward spiraling effects of their situation. As a group, we liked the use of "MK Ultra", and the editing of scenes in the trailer in correlation with the song's rhythm, in particular.
The trailer for "The Social Network" uses the same editing technique, to a cover of Radiohead's "Creep". With each beat, the shot changes. This makes the trailer easier for the audience to watch as the visuals are in sync with the audio, which, with the fast pace, helps to sustain interest.
Hence, editing our trailer in sync with our chosen music is a technique we were keen to use. For our trailer's opening, our music choice was more atmospheric, because our shots were longer and our priority was to build the film's mood. For this we used the intro to Paramore's "Decode", which has been used in retrospective sequences in the trailer for the film "Twilight". As we moved into our main sequence, where we wanted to build tension and represent our character's losing control, we moved into the intro of Muse's "MK Ultra".
Teaser Poster and Website:
To draw inspiration for our teaser poster, we looked at the posters for several films and television shows similar to our own film. Whereas for our trailer we researched several example trailers of differing but similar themes to our own to explore all of the conventions which appeal to our target demographic, for our poster we focused on researching example posters which were targeted towards our demographic and are for media products which explore the same themes as our film, because a teaser poster needs to make more of an instant impression.
The three posters we were most inspired by were for the documentary "Picture Me", and television shows "The Beautiful Life" and "Beautiful People". A constant convention amongst them was minimalism; with monochromatic or light coloring, and characters dressed in little (to none, in the case of "The Beautiful Life") basic clothing. We used this idea whilst drafting and creating our initial poster, shooting our protagonist with a full body shot, wearing a simple shirt and trousers set, against a white background. We developed upon this by adding a tape measure around her waist, and having her face covered by her hair as she looks down at the measurement, to represent where the focus of her mindset becomes directed in the film. Using Adobe Photoshop CS3, we adjusted the coloring of the image to black and white, and used simple Arial font, similar to that used on all of the aforementioned posters. We liked the finished effect, feeling that it represented the exposé nature of our film.
However, after receiving audience feedback, we realized a full body shot was not enabling the audience to focus on the tape measure, a key symbol of our film. We looked back at the original posters which had inspired us, and noticed the billboard in the lower half of one of the alternate posters for "Picture Me".
We decided to develop upon this inspiration and challenge the convention of using a traditional poster to promote our film. The minimalistic approach to design was still a theme that we wanted to use, so we researched minimalistic fashion billboard campaigns. Calvin Klein stood out to us, as the clothing collections themselves are minimalistic in design and are promoted in black and white images each season. In emulation of this, we shot our image with our protagonist wearing the same trouser and shirt set as before, against a white background, and in black and white. However, we also made some developments, coloring the skin of her stomach to draw even more of a focus to the character's weight obsession. To finish, we downloaded and used the Calvin Klein logo font to add our film's name and "coming soon" to the poster.
We used the same minimalistic approach whilst producing our website. We looked to the websites for the same films we had been researching for inspiration for our trailer edit and poster.
The website theme we drew the most inspiration from was from the website "Picture Me". It was in keeping with the minimalistic them were using across our media products, and the clean layout allowed information to be easily consumable for our audience. Hence, whilst browsing the galleries on Wix to find a template to edit, we were looking for (and found) one which was similar to this website.
However, we also wanted our website to represent the dark undertones our film features. To do this, we challenged to conventions of the minimalist, white background, black font, fashion media websites and reversed their color scheme, using a dark background with a white font. Before we applied this to our website, we were concerned that it may be reflective of a film from the horror genre, but we were pleased with the finished result and audience feedback was very positive.