Conventions of a Film Trailer

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Conventions of a Film Trailer by Mind Map: Conventions of a Film Trailer

1. Age Certification

1.1. This screen appears at start of the majority of movie trailers and it specifies the age certification of the specific trailer. The green screen on the left shows that the trailer that they are about to watch is suitable for all audiences no matter what age the audience s. However some trailers which are R-rated films, also known as Red Band trailers are only suited for an approiate audience which means that they are not suitable for younger viewers. Red Band trailers, rather than starting with the green screen start with a red screen that clearly that the suitablity for the viewers.

1.1.1. These screens are decided by the Motion Picture Association of America for all films produced in the USA, which is a large percentage of films due to the size of the American film industry and Hollywood. In the UK the British Board of Film or BBFC for short are responsible for deciding the age ratings of films, however these are less likely to appear in trailers due to lack of British Films released in cinema.

2. Production/Distribution Company Logos

2.1. One form of marketing which is a convention within a film trailer is the inclusion of production company logos at the start of a trailer. Many production companies have created short sequences that feature at the start of trailers and their films, as this will advertise the company but it can also be a marketing strategy as many of the Big 5 production companies have produced classic films that the audience can associate this company with, so this can encourage people to go the see the film. This convention isn’t relevant to a particular genre as many production companies focus on a films profitability rather than the genre. These sequences are mostly included for marketing purposes to make the film and the business better known, and this has made many of the sequences iconic and well known such as the universal and the paramount sequences used.

3. Title Sequence

3.1. The titles used in movie trailers usually have a clear sequence to them. For example, the Black swan trailer clearly follows this title sequence. The sequence is usually started with titles which points out the famous director of the film and it also mentions some previous examples of the director’s film. Afterwards it shows the title of the film and then the name of the main actor or actress in the movie. The last few titles display the film producers, associations and more cast. The final titles which are displayed are usually titles of different elements in the billing block. Most titles have a white font and are placed in contrast black background. This is a good example of the Levi Strauss Binary opposition theory. The white font against the black background is a good example because these are opposites and therefore go by the theory.

4. Character Introductions

4.1. Many trailers like to introduce and focus on their main characters throughout, these can either be individual characters or a set of characters. The trailer that I have recently analysed for the Matrix., although they introduce other characters the trailer primarily focuses on Neo and his situation. Film trailer do this so the audience can follow this character and get a better understanding of the plot as well as this characters involvment.

5. Famous Actors/Actresses

5.1. Some film trailers showcase some of the actors and actresses that they have in the film. As shown on the left, this is a screenshot from the trailer for action comedy Tropic Thunder that introduces Ben Stiller as one of the stars of the film. Producers of the film do this to attract a larger audience, as some members of the audience may want to go see this films because they enjoy the trailer, but others might see that the film stars their favourite actor and actress.

6. Social Media & Website Links

6.1. Many film trailers include social media and website links. The movie trailers include social media links such as Twitter and Facebook accounts where they create hashtag which the target audience can use to tweet or write about the film. This promotes the film on a massive scale because the popularity of Twitter and Facebook means that millions of people around the world can be aware of the forthcoming movie which could increase the revenue of the film. As well as social media links film trailers also reference their own websites to advertise the film as shown on the right, in the final moments of the Transformers Age of Extinction trailer it promotes the website for the film underneath the credits and copyright. Most films which are distributed by one of the big 5 always has a website because this often big part of the promotion of the film. Film website are very useful because the audience can access different types of information from the website such as the release date and cinemas where you can watch the movie.

7. Name Captions

7.1. Captions are used in many different genres of films and are often used in many different ways. One they that used is to explain the story. The captions can used as device to explain the plot, which can be seen in the trailer for the original Matrix film. However, captions are rarely used in this way as most trailers either use a voiceover or they explain the story through the characters and scenes. However captions are used more often as another marketing technique within films, some films use captions to show off the stars of their films. Potential customers might see that a film stars one of their favourite actors or actresses and this will encourage to see the film, one of the trailers that I found that used captions in this way was the tropic thunder trailer. Captions used to credit members of the production team as well as actors, the use of these names of directors and producers share the same marketing purpose as the stars, as they to encourage people to go see the film. However, since these directors and producers aren't as well known the stars many trailers highlight the previous works of these directors and producers, highlighting great films that they have been a part in order to create more interest in the film as well as more potential customers, an example of this would be in the man of steel trailer which credits both its director and producer and their previous works.

8. Billing Block

8.1. A billing block is a less known convention, but consistently appears throughout trailers and is not associated to a particular genre. A billing block is the large block of text that appears the very end of a trailer very briefly. It simply specifies some members of the production team as well as some copyright ownership information about who owns the rights to the film.

9. Music & Voiceovers

9.1. An important part of any trailer is the audio and this can be music or voice overs. The music is used emphasise a trailer and generally makes a trailer more interesting. It can make a trailer more consistent and enjoyable if it is synchronized with the editing and the shots used. The music used can really depend on the genre, as action films tend to have fast pace and intense music that builds the tension. Another form of audio in trailers is voice overs, which have become less common recently, but have used on numerous trailer over last decade, being used to explain the plot of the film and excite the audience as a good voiceover can make a trailer more intense. Hal Douglas is a famous voice actor used for voice over's to help build the intensity of trailer, a video of his work is shown on the right.

10. Time

10.1. Time is a very basic convention for a trailer. The time of movie trailers often differ depending on the type of movie trailer. Theatrical movie trailers often have an average time between 2 minutes and 2 and a half minutes. Whereas, teaser trailer have an average time of about a minute to a minute and a half. However, many films defy this convention depending on their genre as horror films tend to have short abrupt trailers designed to scare the audience. However others trailers defy this convention by being longer than two and half minutes as they unveil more of the plot or show off more scenes to the audience. I believe that unveiling too much content of the movie to the target audience is a disadvantage because some viewers might feel that they have seen too much of the movie and decide not to see the movie. Whereas, if the movie trailer was short and ended with a cliff hanger, this this would persuade the target audience to go and see the movie.

11. Release Date

11.1. The release date is another convention which is not specific to a genre but is specific to a certain trailer. The release date is not included within the teaser trailer as these only reveal the film, however release dates are normally shown at the end of theatrical trailer as these trailers are released much closer to the actual release of the film. The release date is another marketing tool used in trailers not only gets the audience excited for a film upcoming release, but to draw in more potential customers.

12. Editing (Transitions)

12.1. Editing is a very important convention in a film trailer as there are numerous shots as well as changes in the pace that need to be organised. The editing needs to suit the genre and also work around the shots being used and the audio being used. Action trailers normall have fast paced editing to match the music that help build the tension and engage the audience within the trailer. An important are the transitions between the scenes as cut is the most common transistions used, but transistions like fade and blur can help improve impact of certain shots.

13. Lighting

13.1. Lighting always has an impact on film trailers because it always creates a certain mood or an atmosphere within the movie trailer. For example, in the Black Sea movie trailer, the lighting at the start of the movie trailer is fairly light which portrays that the movie is still in its equilibrium however as the trailer continues the lighting and contrast becomes darker which portrays the imbalance of the movie and emphasises the danger which lurks in the scenes. In addition, lighting is also used to reveal which character is the hero or villain in the trailer. For example, in the Skyfall trailer the lighting focused on the hero is often bright which portrays the hero in a good manner. In contrast, the lighting was darker in scenes where the villain was shown which a creates sense of an evil persona towards to the villain.

14. Camera Work

14.1. Camera Work is a vital convention when creating a trailer as if the shots used aren’t right a film trailer will fall apart even with the use of editing and audio. The shots used in a trailer do depend of the genre of the film, however there are some general shots used in my different genre of trailers. For example selective focus is often used in horror films and trailers, this where the camera is used to focus on a particular character or object. However, there is someone in the background, who although clearly there represents a darker presence as they are not the focus of the scene. Other shots like establishing shots are often used in various films genres as they set the scene and show where the story takes place.

15. Hypodermic Needle Theory

15.1. The final convention that I am going to look is hypodermic needle theory which I found through researching online. It isn't any specific feature in the trailer that makes this a convention. But the theory focuses on how a conventional movie trailer should inject the audience with the film changing their attitude, for example a horror trailer would change their attitude from calm and relaxed to scared.

16. Structure

16.1. Structure really depends on the narrative of the films as most trailers follow a non linear narrative, which means the trailer doesn't follow the story bit by bit. A non- linear trailer shows off some of the best bits of the film and explain the story, but they don’t reveal any information that could potential ruin the ending of the film, which why a linear structure is used for the film but the trailer is almost like a sneak peek of the films highlights.

17. Tagline

17.1. A tag line is almost like a slogan for a movie and can some up the whole plot, title or purpose of movie in a couple of words. Tag lines are simply another way of referencing a film and some tag line are made from stand out lines in a film. For Example the slogan for the original ghostbusters was who you gonna call? A phrase that the film has become known for.

18. Genre

18.1. Audiences should be able to establish the genre of the film through the use of the iconography in the trailer, for example action movies feature explosions, car chases and fight scenes. The genre of a movie helps sell the movie as, despite it being obvious, a horror movie would attract fans of horror movies. This being said, a film trailer should highlight the genre of the movie whilst incorporating new feature encouraging more audiences to come and watch the movie instead of focusing on one small target audience as the main objective of a film trailer is to turn a potential audience into a paying audience.

19. Narrative

19.1. The narrative of the trailer is the way in which the plot is depicted in the trailer. This can be linear, where the sequence of events in the trailer follows the pattern of the movie with a beginning, middle and end, or non-linear where there is no real correlation with the story but the trailer focuses on the key exciting moments of the film. Tzvetan Todorov came up with the theory that all films follow a narrative pattern: It begins with A state of equilibrium (All is as it should be.) Then there is a A disruption of that order by an event. (The agent of change) 3. A recognition that the disorder has occurred. 4. An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption. 5. A return or restoration of a NEW equilibrium This theory can be applied to nearly all films and is extremely flexible. Applying this theory to a film trailer would help give the trailer a linear narrative structure that an audience could follow, without giving away too many crucial plot details, whilst including the key exciting moments of the film that would make the audience wish to see the film. Movie trailers are also used to create an enigma, causing intrigue to an audience and also further encouraging them to see the movie.

20. Marketing

20.1. Marketing is a huge part of the film industry and it is also very important in film trailers. As producers release posters and radio ads to advertise their films, the trailer is the best way of getting a larger audience attracted to the film, as film trailers are shown numerous formats such online and at the cinema before the start of a film. All film trailers are essentially marketing strategy for the film they are advertising, they attempt to establish a customer base, as the trailer is a defining element of a film’s marketing that can turn potential customers into paying customers. Although the trailer its self is tool for a films marketing there are many conventions included in trailers that are marketing tactics. The two different types of trailer work as part of a film marketing strategy, as a teaser trailer is normally released about a year before the film is released and it gets the audience excited for the film and will help build up a fan- base through trailers online release as well as word of mouth recommendations. Theatrical trailer’s tend to build upon the potential audience created by the teaser trailer as they reveal more about the story and characters of the film that could potentially help draw in more customers. The theatrical trailer is normally released much closer to the film’s release and attempt to gain more interest and remind the potential audience of this film’s release. The theatrical trailer can help with the marketing especially to customers who haven’t seen the teaser trailer as since the release date is near this film will likely interest the potential audience and will kept on their mind. Film trailers are not the only way that films are advertised, in terms of physical marketing film also advertise through the use of posters. But posters vary depending on the genre, whilst darker genres like horror tend to use darker colours. Others genres that more upbeat tend to go with brighter more eyecatching posters. Conventionally films only tend to have one or two different posters that focus on a character or characters from the film, however there are some exception to this. One film that had an unconventional marketing scheme with its posters was X-men Days of Future Past. This film had a couple of eyecatching posters that showed off some of the main characters in the film, but it also released numerous for individual characters, looking online I was able to find 21 different posters that focused on the film individual characters. Marketing tactic is the timing of when these trailers are actually been shown, of course they are online, but when trailers are shown in cinemas they tend to be relevant to the film the viewer are watching, for example if you went to go see a horror film in the cinema you most likely see trailers for other horror films before the films start. This way trailers will be watched by a more relevant audience as most teaser trailer are the first step in announcing a film to an audience and you need to get the target audience to see the film in order to make your film profitable.