Analyzing Trailers

It’s a strange process crafting a trailer for a film we haven’t made yet. But it’s given us some freedom to explore and discover different aspects of the story before we start to lock things down.

Our DP, Jonathan, pointed us at the trailer for the film Lion about a month ago when we were kicking around different ideas. It’s got a look and a feel that we all really liked and seemed to be a similar type of story to the one we intend to tell — though none of us had seen it. 🙂 Still, a drama that tells the story of one individual, crossing cultures, and forging a new life… It certainly looked similar.

We’ve now watched that trailer more times than I can count, picking apart each scene they chose, why they chose it, what we think it’s trying to communicate about the story….

So, just to so something truly wild and crazy, Alex the Intern and I sat down and watched the movie tonight. It’s a good movie. I think we all enjoyed it. Very thought provoking and challenging. There are some surprisingly subtle messages in the film and some really great performances.

But I think the trailer was better….

There’s always a tension in trailers. How much to give away. What to show. What will hook people into watching the movie? And many trailers just tell you the entire story. The Lion trailer doesn’t leave you wondering what the basic story is, or how it will end. Although, it offers up enough intrigue to leave you with lots of questions. Which I think is good and is part of why we wanted to watch the actual movie.

The biggest surprise for me, though, is that the trailer had me thinking I was going to be watching a movie about this man, who was slowly remembering early childhood events. In reality, it’s a straight up biopic that begins with a kid, who grows into a man, etc.

And that’s actually where the film drags. Once they get through the explanation of his childhood, as the protagonist struggles with his memories and the need to act on them, there isn’t a lot for them to share with us, because they told it all already. I actually think if they’d told the story in the same format as the trailer, it would have been that much more compelling.

What’s your favorite movie trailer? How does it compare to the actual film? Let us know in the comments.

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