The trailer is an essential piece of a filmmaking puzzle, whether you’re an independent filmmaker or a big-budget studio. It needs to hit all of the same storytelling and audience engagement marks that engage audiences in full films and TV shows, and it’s even more important for a trailer because every single split second is scrutinized with surgical precision.

A well-executed trailer can lead to successful financing, as well as generating buzz about your project long before you’ve shot a single frame of footage. It’s also an effective tool for marketing and promotion, a chance to present the general idea and premise of your movie in a highly condensed form that can quickly capture the attention of viewers online or at the theater.

Trailers are typically shot as a series of short scenes that showcase different aspects of the film. They are usually edited together with music and other audio effects to create a compelling and captivating montage. They are often accompanied by a voiceover that introduces the movie and provides context for the story, although this is not always the case.

The most important element of a trailer is the story, which must be told in a way that will capture the attention of the viewer and make them want to see the film. The trailer should start by introducing the main characters and setting. Next, it should build up to a key incident in the plot that will hook the audience (think J. K. Simmons’s chair throw in Whiplash). Finally, the trailer should climax and end with an exciting or emotional moment that will leave the audience wanting more.

Choosing the right shots and editing techniques are crucial to a successful trailer. It’s also important to use a wide variety of shots and to include different perspectives to show the action from different angles. Well-chosen music can also add a lot to the effectiveness of the trailer. Music can set the mood and emotion of the scene, creating a sense of anticipation and tension. It can also add a sense of drama and intensity, or a more lighthearted feel, depending on the tone of the film. Music is especially important when editing a trailer, as it can help to create a unified feel and can be used to highlight key moments in the plot.

After you’ve collected your footage, found a backing track, and storyboarded your shots, it’s time to begin cutting your trailer. Using surgical precision, carefully edit each shot, cut, and transition in your trailer while listening to the backing track to ensure that all the pieces fit together seamlessly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways of editing your footage to find the style that works best for you – there are no wrong answers! If it’s tone-appropriate, adding sound effects can also be a great way to convey information about the film’s genre. For example, distant sounds of battle can let the audience know that they are watching a war movie, while ambient futuristic noises can suggest science fiction.