Whether you’re making an indie film, a documentary, or a music video, trailers are one of the best ways to get attention and excitement for your project. They are short tidbits of cinematic entertainment that entertain crowds, build hype, and can even lead to financing.

There are a few simple guidelines you can follow when creating a movie trailer that will help you tell your story and create an effective marketing tool. This will make your video stand out from the crowd and will ensure that your viewers are engaged, eager, and ready to watch.

1. Organize Your Trailer with a Three-Act Structure

The most effective trailers tell stories that are emotionally engaging and keep viewers on the edge of their seat. The beginning of your trailer should introduce the characters, setting, and premise; the middle should heighten the conflict or complications; and the end should feature a climax.

2. Use Audio and Music to Complement the Visuals

You’ll need good audio to complement the visuals in your trailer. This can include music that compliments your scene, or you could incorporate sound effects that make your scenes more dramatic.

3. Create Your Trailer to Get Viewers To Take Action

The goal of your trailer is to get viewers to take action, whether that’s buying your movie or signing up for your mailing list. It’s important that you make this clear and don’t give people any room to abandon before you ask them to do so.

4. Use Teasers to Generate Interest

In addition to a full-length trailer, you can also release shorter teasers over time to drive more engagement and buzz. This can include posting a gif on your Instagram feed each day counting down to when your trailer drops, pushing sponsored social ads, or using the “Swipe Up” feature in your Instagram Stories.

5. Ensure that the Trailer is Well-Crafted

The trailer is the first chance to make an impression on potential viewers, so it needs to be carefully designed and crafted. This means using the right storytelling elements, editing techniques, and production values to grab people’s attention.

6. Establish Your Characters, Tone and Setting

It’s important to have strong characters in your trailer that match the ethos of the film you’re promoting. The best way to do this is to shoot an inciting incident that sets the stage for your story.

Similarly, for documentaries or other types of short videos, it’s important to set the scene in the first few seconds by using interviews or other vignettes that establish your subject and their voice. The interviewees don’t need to be actors, but they should have a distinct style that will add to the film’s overall aesthetic.

A good way to make your trailer a standout is to add quotes from reputable press that are relevant to the film you’re promoting. This can be done by including reviews and comments from the media you’re targeting or quoting fans who love your film.