A trailer is a short video that precedes a feature film or other piece of media. It can be used to build anticipation for a film or to encourage viewers to take action, such as purchasing tickets or signing up for the movie’s mailing list. Trailers are often edited from footage that has been shot on a film set or in the field, but they can also be cut using post-production software such as Apple iMovie or Adobe Premiere. Regardless of which tool is used to create the trailer, the marketing and storytelling principles are the same.
In the film industry, trailers are produced by a variety of companies that specialize in creating them. Many of these companies have offices in Los Angeles and New York City, and they may employ dozens of people whose sole job is to create the perfect trailer for the film being marketed.
A typical trailer contains the film’s rating, followed by a graphic that announces the movie it is advertising. Then, it begins to show excerpts from the film that are artfully cut together to build suspense and excitement for the film. Occasionally, the trailer will end with a cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting more. If the trailer is being made for a drama, it will often include scenes of conflict between main characters or dramatic tension in settings such as a car chase or a rooftop scene. If the film is a comedy, the trailer might focus on lighter moments in the film or humorous situations that will make audiences laugh.
Most trailers follow a three-act structure, similar to the plot of a feature film. The beginning lays out the film’s premise, the middle heightens the conflict, and the ending features the climax of the story. Often, a key scene in the middle is highlighted with music that will be featured on the film’s soundtrack, and the final act often includes a visual montage of powerful or emotional scenes from the movie.
When a trailer is being created for a documentary, the approach is a bit different. While there is a need to capture attention, it is important not to give away the entire story of the film. The best way to do this is to highlight visually compelling shots and to use a cliffhanger at the end that will leave viewers eager for more. Generally, documentaries will not need to include a cast run or logos of the production or distribution company.
The trailer should be short enough to retain viewer interest even when it is being played in a loop. Keeping it short is especially crucial for trailers that are being shared online. It is recommended that trailers be no more than 30 seconds long.
Whether it is for a feature film, a television series, a commercial or an app, a great trailer can capture the audience’s imagination and make them want to see the full-length version of the story. The tools to create a trailer are numerous, and the best option for any filmmaker depends on their own comfort level with each of them.