Trailers are a staple of movie going, but they’re also used to help get the word out about independent films and television shows, or even crowdfunding campaigns. They’re short, fast-paced pieces that are meant to entertain and entice viewers to invest their time in the film or show they’re promoting. But creating an effective trailer isn’t as simple as it looks.

The key to a successful trailer is to grab the viewer’s attention immediately, build up momentum throughout the piece, and then leave them wanting more. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, from exciting music and shots of intriguing-looking characters and places to physical humor or dramatic tension. But no matter the medium, a good trailer is ultimately a well-composed and engaging introduction to a story.

Most trailers are very short, as directors know they only have a few minutes to convince their viewers to see the full-length film. Directors try to accomplish this by introducing the main characters and setting up their central conflict, while leaving the audience with a major cliffhanger so they’re dying to find out how the character resolves their dilemma.

Using a variety of editing techniques also helps a trailer grab the viewer’s attention and keep their interest. Short and illustrative lines of exposition work well in trailers, as do rhetorical questions or abstract ideas that imply the film’s thesis without giving away too much information. Lastly, using a lot of cutting and editing to add visual variation to your trailer is essential. Whether you’re shooting a documentary or an action film, any opportunities to create dynamic shots and visual modulation will go a long way in the final cut.

Another important aspect of a trailer is its casting run, which is a list of all the actors that appear in the film. This list is often referred to as a “credits” sequence and is usually placed at the end of the trailer, though it sometimes appears earlier. This list is especially helpful for attracting audiences that may be unfamiliar with the actors, but interested in seeing what other projects they’ve worked on.

Finally, a good trailer should also include the logo of the film’s distributor and production company. Putting this credit info at the beginning of the trailer can be confusing and distracting, so it’s typically placed at the very end, or not shown at all. This is to avoid revealing any spoilers that might spoil the main story line, which would be counterproductive. The same is true for including the film’s director or producer’s names, as this can lead to confusion over which credits are for the actual film and which are for the trailer. This can be avoided by keeping the cast and credits brief and to the point.