What will the trailer for your movie look like? This is a great question to ask yourself at any stage of the writing, but particularly at the stage where you’re still working out the basics. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
It stimulates your imagination. It’s like telling yourself not to think of that incredibly sexy neighbour of yours in their underwear. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you say that? Exactly.
It gets your creative juices flowing. Everyone knows how trailers work: They create expectations, they evoke associations and feelings by lifting a veil on the film. By hinting at some of the key dramatic moments, the trailer prompts you to unconsciously fill in the gaps. Which is exactly the right frame of mind to be in when thinking about your script.
It can surprise you. Just when you thought you knew what your film was going to be about, along comes an image in your imaginary trailer that says, what if …? Embrace that unexpected image, it might lead you to an amazing new twist.
It yields ideas for key moments in the film. That’s the nature of a trailer. Those climactic, hilarious or decisive moments in your film. The comedy set piece, the cliff-hanger, the bombshell revelation. The moment of betrayal, the discovery of an unsent letter, the deepest, darkest moment when all seems lost, and so on. All theses kinds of images are likely to pop into your mind.
It clarifies what genre(s) your script is in. You automatically picture the trailer in certain hues, at a particular pace, perhaps you hear a soundtrack or a voice-over, perhaps you visualize the taglines appearing, and so on. These are mostly associations with films you’ve seen before, and that’s good. Because every genre, or combination of genres, has its own characteristic type of trailer, and your film is no exception. The stronger your sense is of what kind of film you’re writing, the easier it will be to pitch.
It’s fun to do. Take a little time to watch trailers every now and then. It will remind you why you want to write movies. Don’t skip the trailers next time you watch a rented movie. Or take a look at sites like Coming Soon and Yahoo Trailers and just sit back and enjoy the show for a few minutes!