A trailer is a short film that gives viewers a taste of the film it’s advertising, and can be used for feature films, TV shows, video games, books, or even live events like concerts. It’s a powerful marketing tool, and can have a huge impact on whether a viewer decides to see the full movie or not.

The trailer is often the first thing that potential audiences see of your film, so it’s important to set a tone and encapsulate the story in the first few seconds. You can do this through your music, pacing, voice-over or title cards. It’s also helpful to study other trailers in the same genre to understand how they hook viewers and build anticipation for the movie.

It’s also a good idea to include an emotional throughline in your trailer, which can help viewers relate to the characters and buy into the plot. This could be a simple car chase, a romance between two characters or the final moment of tension before a dramatic climax. Keeping the trailer as close to the movie as possible will make it easier for viewers to anticipate the big twists and turns of your film’s plot without watching it all.

You can add a touch of cinematic flair to your trailer by adding some stylish shots and editing techniques. A well-crafted shot of a beautiful landscape, a striking silhouette or a quick flash of some special effects can make a huge difference. You can also experiment with creative edits, such as bookending and intercutting your footage to add a little extra drama and suspense.

A well-rounded trailer will often include a cast run, or a list of the main actors in the film, and any big name directors or producers who might draw in an audience. It’s also a good idea to use your cast run to build up the anticipation for the climax at the end of your trailer, which will typically appear with the studio production logos and credits at the very beginning or end of the trailer.

While there are many different tools available to create a trailer, the most crucial element of all is creativity and the ability to tell a compelling story. If you have the skills to craft a captivating teaser, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it to sell your film and encourage mailing list sign-ups or ticket purchases.

In 1913, Broadway producer Nils Granlund came up with the idea of using rehearsal footage to advertise upcoming plays in between screening rotations at his theater. He called his creation a “trailer,” and revolutionized the way movies are promoted. Initially, trailers weren’t played before the movie they were promoting, but over time they evolved into an integral part of the film-going experience, and the concept spread beyond theatrical movies to become the keystone of movie promotion. Now, you can watch trailers on YouTube and Vimeo, as well as on your favorite streaming service.