Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What do They Have in Common...?

I find it interesting that the majority of agencies, managers, and production companies require that screenwriters have an excellent grasp on how to market their screenplay. These days it seems a degree in business or marketing will get your screenplay closer to hitting the bigscreen than a background in literature and/or writing.

So you've become the master of marketing. You've gotten your script through all the Hollywood thresholds. They are shooting your script. Not a single word is changed. (Of course, intent of the script and what shows up on screen is an entirely different topic). You received tickets to the World Premiere in New York, but you live in L.A. and can't afford to fly out to the premiere. Afterall, you are a screenwriter. It gets rave reviews. But it tanks at the box-office.

And then you see it...

The trailer.

What the hell happened!? The screenwriter has to have a flawless sense of marketing, but the trailer editor is some schmo with Final Cut on his home computer that doesn't have enough talent to be an Assistant Editor.

I say, f--- that.

What happened to the breed of trailer editor and advertising campaign that made the ERNEST GOES TO... movies look like the funniest thing since a kick in the crotch.

It seems like advertising agencies assume that movies sell themselves. Great, if that's the case... there's a lot more money that can go toward the budget of the film, instead of the advertising agency. Just because a competent director shot an incredible movie, doesn't mean that the trailer will reflect that.

While I pause to reflect on this for a couple minutes...

On a regular interval, Scott the Reader, at ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER dishes out box-office predictions and feedback on the previous week in an effort to try and grasp what potential screenplays have the ability to generate money.

As the main point of this blog is to try and root to the bottom of the enigma that is screenwriting, I think there are things to be gleamed from box office numbers. However, I'm not sure how tied to plot, premise, character, or anything a screenwriter has control over the box-office is.

There IS a commonality.

The trailers.

STOMP THE YARD - From the trailer, I understand the movie. It looks retarded to me. I'm not even remotely interested in 1) urban movies 2) dancing. It reminds me of DRUMLINE, YOU'VE GOT SERVED, and an assortment of other "hip" movies that have been severely (and rightfully so) ridiculed in pop culture. And yet, for some strange reason I want to see it. This is probably not the best example of a great trailer. But it is making me second guess my pre-conceived notions. Give that trailer editor a raise.

FANTASTIC FOUR #2 - I had no intention of seeing this movie. The first one looked like garbage, from the trailer alone. Couple that with the unfortunate release of THE INCREDIBLES a half year earlier and I could do nothing, other than feel sorry for this movie. You'd think... the sequel... why would I go see that...?

Well, BECAUSE the trailer for it has an amazing hook and appeal. My gf who hates comic book movies, actually turned to me asking me what that movie was about. Then after that she was, like, wow. I kinda want to see that. And I have to admit... I'm intrigued.

Taking a look back on the year...

STRANGER THAN FICTION had a great trailer.

So did..



I am not saying these trailers are flawless. But unlike the other trailers out there, they don't make the movie they are selling look like a total piece of crap.

Are we really at a point in cinema history, when we have to ask advertisers, whose sole function is to appeal to a mass marketplace, to not make our product look like shit?

P.S. For a look at a really awful trailer, take a look at THE HITCHER. It looks like a really crappy remake of a 70's exploitation/slasher film.


Anonymous said...

The Hitcher is a remake, albeit of a crappy 1986 (not 70s) slasher exploitation flick. Seems like the trailer did a good job then of evoking the movie.

James said...

My point exactly.

The advertising did a good job of evoking "a crappy 1986 slasher exploitation flick."

Hate to break it to you, but that is what makes it a bad trailer.