Basic Conventions of Film Trailers

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The basic conventions of film trailers include establishing the plot, introducing the characters, providing a general setting and adding attention-grabbing footage. Draw in viewers through a cleverly designed movie trailer with helpful tips from an independent filmmaker in this free video on film.

Part of the Video Series: Filmmaking for Beginners
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Video Transcript

All right, folks, in this clip we're going to talk about the basic conventions of a film trailer. A film trailer basically plays out something like this: You establish the movie in that you establish the location. Where does this film take place? What setting does it take place in? Does it take place on, like a sweeping plain somewhere? Does it take place in a small town or urban metropolis, a college campus, where does it take place? Then, immediately, you establish the characters. The principals of the story. Who are they? Why do we like them? The trick is to get the audience to either empathize or immediately think they're funny or likable right off the bat. Now at this point you introduce the first major plot device. You know, the problem that the hero's going to have to overcome. The funny situation that the two comic leads are going to have to battle through. The epic war that needs to be fought. The courtroom, you know, drama that's about to play out. You basically get the story rolling at this point. You established where it takes place, who the characters are, now the story's rolling. From here, you basically build in action and intensity and hilarity 'til this barrage of quickly paced clips crescendos into a final knock-out blow that you deliver right at the very end, which is the final line or final shot or final exchange between two characters, or whoever, that makes the audience really decide right then and there that they want to see it. It slowly builds from the beginning to the very end, and the very end should leave the audience thinking 'Oh, yeah. That is a movie that I'm definitely going to see.' They should be leaning over to their buddy saying 'Oh yeah. I want to see that, for sure.' Right as the finishing credits, or, you know, 'Coming soon to a theater near you' is playing on the screen. That is the basic conventions of a theatrical trailer.


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