Cutting the Teaser

After I have uploaded the teaser yesterday I now want to focus on the important properties of it. The first version of the teaser wasn’t very good. I cut three different scenes together, actually with some parts of dialogue. The problem was that I wanted to give a little introduction into the story, but with a lenght of 40 seconds, it was to short to show different parts and express different moods. Our componist and I discovered this problem after he had finished the music, because he had introduced three different musical themes. Three Scenes, three musical themes and three moods is too much for a teaser. What we have created was the short version of a trailer, not a good teaser. But whats the difference?

According to wikipedia a teaser’s “purpose is less to tell the audience about a movie’s content than simply to let them know that the movie is coming up in the near future, and to add to the hype of the upcoming release.” As you can see a teaser shouldn’t give you many information about the story, but let you know theres something coming. Sounds like a commercial, doesn’t it? And that’s the key. A teaser should present you a movie (product) in a way that you want to see it afterwards. So how can we cut a teaser to achieve this?

I’ve made a list with the most important points, which I’ve discovered recently:

1. Theme Choose a good theme (or leitmotif), which characterizes your movie and can easily be understood by the viewer. In our case I’ve picked the subject “secret”. Can’t tell what it has to do with the story ;) , but the secrets are always very interesting so its a good theme for a teaser because you automatically want to know more about the story. If you don’t have the fitting dialogues, you can use a narrator to tell some words about your theme. Whatever the theme is, for example “fear” in a crime movie or “courage” in a superhero movie, it should be part of the story and attracts the viewer’s attention. If you wan’t you can go with two or three themes, but you shouldn’t overload it.

2. Shots Search for nice shots which support your theme mentioned above and present some kind of variety. You don’t have to use your most important shots, but maybe some of the most interesting. Cut them together in a way you achieve a homogeneuos rythm, for example cuttings every 5-7 seconds during a slow scene and every 1-3 seconds during a fight. Fades to black between shots can help to highlight every new shot. Those fades shouln’t be used on every cut, especially not between continuing shots of one scene.

3. Arc of Suspense Start slow, end fast. Start low, end loud. I think it is very important to increase the intensity of images and music, so the viewers emotions are attracted towards the solution of the teaser. And whats the solution? Watching the movie! At the end you should present a cliffhanger, the strongest and most interesting scene of your teaser, which awakes interest over again.

4. Music The music should support your theme and create the desired mood. It doesn’t has to be the music from the movie, because you are often mixing different scenes in a teaser and the music should support your theme and not every shot you present. Because you only have limited time, you can go more loud and epic than you would go in the finished movie. Remember: You don’t want to tell the story, but to attract the viewers attention and present your product in a catching way!

I think those are the most important points I discovered during editing the teaser. Not every point will work on every teaser, but if you have a look at teasers (not trailers!) around the web, you will notice that most of them suit.


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