“We should go see that” Are trailers effective?

One of the reasons why I try to get early to the movies is that I want the best seat possible. Well that, and the fact that I also get to see the trailers if I show up on time. With movie theaters, they will usually show movie trailers within the same genre as the movie you’re about to watch. How weird would it actually be if you saw a trailer for a exorcism movie during the showing of Beauty and the Beast?

“I wanna see that” or “that looks good”, are usually some of the things that comes out of movie-goers when they first watch a trailer. Before a film is made, there has to be a market for it, that’s where teasers, posters, and all sorts of promotional items come into play to build excitement for the film.

Once this excitement is built and a market is found, a trailer must catch the attention of the viewer to the point that they want to go out and see the movie in a theater on release day. However, this is just a textbook purpose and expectation of a trailer. Not every trailer is effective, and not every person is sold on a movie with just a trailer. In some cases, it may draw the viewer away from watching the movie. So, “how effective is a film trailer to a viewer?” is the question we should be asking ourselves. The problem is though, not every trailer is the same.

If that movie was made there had to have been some people who wanted to make this movie happen. Right? Again, not always the case. Some movies could be a quick cash grab and others could just be downright bad movies that got made.

Backtracking to what I mentioned earlier about “they will usually show movie trailers within the same as the movie you’re about to watch”, well think about why you went to watch the movie you’re watching in the first place. Because somehow, through a poster, commercial, a hot date, or even a trailer, the movie somehow managed to get you out of the house to watch it. Something in that trailer seemed familiar or caught your attention enough to make you act.

Even though the world of cinema is constantly changing in the eyes of the viewer, they want to stick with at least a little bit of familiarity when it comes to what kind of movies they watch. That’s why action-packed summer blockbusters usually do so well. Because we know what we’re in for and don’t set our expectations anymore than that. Take a look at this YouTube video that fully examines what makes a trailer good and how you yourself can make an effective trailer. 

The next time you watch a movie trailer, pay attention to the things it tries to show you to “sell” their movie to you. The actors they might show, the eerie music that might linger in the back, the dramatic pans throughout the landscape. All these little things contribute to something greater and in the end, might just get you watching their movie months later.

Mental Illness in Cinema

Often times, we want to watch films that we can relate to. We also sometimes watch them to delve into different worlds beyond our understanding, worlds that draw us into them.

Mental health expressed in films have been a growing subject for decades now, increasing awareness for those with mental illnesses by expressing them through thought provoking films. It’s not just that a person with a mental illness is not well; they are not well in a way that may somehow alter who they are or seem to be. It is what we understand to be the very substance of a person at stake — their self, personality, consciousness. The main message inherent in films about the mentally ill is, in fact, that people with mental illness are different from you and me — very different. For example, let’s take a look at the film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?  

In this scene it’s incredibly easy to examine all the characters and each of their vices. Gilbert, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, has developmental issues and can’t deal with the topic of his father recently passing, which effects those around him emotionally. The mother, Bonnie (Darlene Cates), is an interesting character who suffers from an eating disorder and what appears to be severe depression. After experiencing the trauma of her husband committing suicide in their basement, Bonnie becomes reclusive and spends most of her time binge eating and disassociating while watching television. As a result, she becomes very obese and cannot leave their home. Unfortunately, Bonnie dies in their home at the end of the film. Spoilers, but hey, it’s still a pretty good movie.

Movies like this show us that no one is perfect, everyone has their own flaws that make them who they are to the point that “normal”, isn’t even a thing anymore. There is a particular method by which filmmakers attempt to normalize characters with mental illness, and at first glance it might seem a little counter-intuitive, because the initial step in this method is almost always to trump up the symptoms of the mental illness in question, thus setting the patient further away from us and our world — alienizing them, so to speak.

In this, it becomes increasingly easier for us to draw the line between us and them — which is probably strangely gratifying to a viewer, because it reinforces the idea that whatever our situation, there is at least a great gulf between our lives and the lives of those with mental illness.

These films attempt to normalize mental illness, which is not an easy topic as a whole, and different movies have certain ways of doing so. Sometimes they succeed in deliverance, and other times they end up failing to deliver their message. Whatever it may be, any attempt to do this is a notable one and makes viewers think about others like them that may be different, connecting each other just a little bit more.

Oscar Worthy Editing

If you have ever filmed anything in your entire life such as a video project for a class, a vine that you just made (rip), or something a little more personal, then chances are you have had to edit something from it. And let’s be real here, editing is not easy. I remember the first time trying to edit a project I made back in freshman year of high school for my English class (yes English, I went to a pretty interesting high school), and just being frustrated trying to use simple programs such as iMovie and having to take time out to learn the ins and outs of these programs.

This memory came back to me after reading this post from one of my favorite film sites called “Assholes Watching Movies” and how they explored the art of editing and what Oscar voters consider award winning. Check out the full post if you’re interested in editing and it’s importance to cinema as a whole, and trust me, it’s important.

I agree with the writers of this post a lot simply because editing is more difficult than it may seem, and it’s even more difficult to describe what is artful editing. Any good film requires meticulous amounts of concentration in the editing room. Usually the director of the movie will work closely with the editor during the process and work off each other to capture the director’s vision of the film.

This means that both of them usually have a good relationship with each other and understand what it’s gonna take to make a this film their best work to date. Take a look at this YouTube video that examines the recent film Moonlight in things that a viewer may not be fully aware of while watching the film upon their first viewing of it such as camerawork, sound, and editing

Moonlight is a perfect example of making an already enjoyable film even better with the help of fantastic editing that in turn provides a more engaging experience and relationship between the film and the viewer. You’ll know a film has superb editing when you become so engaged with the film to the point that it doesn’t even feel like you’re watching a movie. As Kevin Tent said: It’s hard to articulate what editors do, but when it’s bad, you’ll know it. When it’s good, you’ll never know.

The Reality of Romance In Cinema

One of the strangest complaints that people have about film is denying that a character could feel X emotion over the course of a small amount of time.

In example, the most common complaint is that two people could not possibly fall in love over the course of a few days. “You just me her a week ago!”

There’s a few things that most people aren’t considering.

1. Screenwriting is hard. Most films are roughly only an hour and a half. That’s 90 minutes. The translation of script to film is about 1 minute per page. That’s an entire story, beginning to end, in 90 pages. And even past that, take a look at any script for a movie that you have watched. Look at the format. There’s not a lot of room on each page.

This means that the writers have to speed things up so much faster than real life would require to cover as much ground. This video below from a YouTube channel called “The School of Life”, explores the effects that romantic films have on our views of love and how fast we would like the whole “falling in love process”, to be since were so used to seeing it done at that speed on the big screen.

The video states that love stories that we see on screen don’t clearly give us an accurate representation in love. That these stories found in movies can have an effect on the viewer in which they create expectations for love based on these stories that are usually solely meant for entertainment purposes and nothing more. We only see a fraction of the actual relationship on screen which is usually the beginning of the relationship or the “falling in love” phase, but we never see the actual time and effort a relationship requires in order to keep being considered as such.

2. Building on the last point, in order to keep the movie going at a decent pace, a lot of these characters lives are being skipped. You’re (usually) not watching these characters use the bathroom but no one is complaining about how the character can seemingly go an entire week without it. This applies to the relationships example too. “Wow, you’ve gone on, like two dates and you’re already acting like you’re in love?”

Chances are, the filmmaker doesn’t have time to show us every single encounter between these two people. It’s usually implied that what you are assuming is only a few days, is potentially a few weeks or even months. Sometimes that may no even be the case. But still, who are we to judge someone’s fictional emotions that cause them to fall in love with a person they meet for the first time? It’s much more interesting to watch them do things out of the ordinary then have a typical boy meets girl scenario.

Your life is not a movie, don’t take it as such. What you want out of a relationship should be based on what you think will make you truly happy out of finding someone to love, not because you thought it was cute when Ryan Gosling called that girl a bird.

Creatively Creating A Movie

Originally I thought of writing about the step by step guide on how to make a movie, then I quickly realized that would be a 100-step post that you or I have absolutely no time for. Instead, I wanted to go over the creative/ conceptual process that occurs within a movie before it even begins pre-production because it’s just as difficult to make a movie as it is to come up with one. Keep in mind that this is a VERY brief way to begin making a movie.

STEP ONE: THINK. FOR A LONG TIME.

You can’t make a movie if you don’t even have an idea for a movie. How I usually come up with my ideas is I start brainstorming on specific things about myself. For example I would  think to myself “what is my favorite romantic comedy and why is it my favorite” or “what do I not  like about this movie and how would I make a better version of it. It’s best to think of things that not only you, but others can relate to as well, and how you deal with these sort of issues or say “what if?” and do the complete opposite. You gotta start somewhere so take your time on this part.

STEP TWO: WHO WOULD FIT THIS SITUATION?

Once you’ve got your concept for a story think about what kinds of characters you would create for it. What type of person would best create conflict in the environment you have created for them. One perfect example of this is one of NBC’s newest shows The Good Place.

In The Good Place, the main character Eleanor Shellstrop, is clearly shown to be one of the worst human beings alive and is a piece of shit no matter what she does. Eleanor however, has passed away and has accidentally been sent to heaven aka “The Good Place” instead of”The Bad Place,  and everyone around her is a much better person than her in every aspect. Situations like these make for great and enticing content for viewers.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to create in the order that I have made. It is perfectly fine, sometimes even better, to start with a character then work to your concept from there.

STEP THREE: WRITE

Alright so we’ve got a concept and we got some characters who we think would fit this scenario/story you have created, now you just have to write it out. Give the story a beginning, middle, and end all while keeping the story interested and the characters constantly changing in the world you have made. After you’ve got your first draft settled…WRITE A NEW ONE. No first draft is ever perfect, so keep writing. See what can be improved upon and what can be taken out.

STEP FOUR: GET OUT THERE AND MAKE IT:

Sell your script, make it yourself, step four is when you’re ready to share your concept with the world and hopefully someone will be willing to work with you on it.

These four steps are extremely broad instructions on what it’s like to create a movie, but shows completely the complexity and work it requires to work on a project before it has even begun. Hopefully these steps can nudge you slightly in the right direction if you ever get stuck on coming up with a topic for a movie or tv show.

How I Figured Out What I Wanted To Do

If there’s anything more difficult than fulfilling your career, it’s deciding what exactly that career is going to be. It’s impossible to know what you’re actually gonna do in life when you’re four years old and don’t even know what student debt is or how parking tickets work (I have multiple but I’m not thinking about that right now). I’m still kind of envious of those kids who decided to be a fireman at the age of two and actually stuck with it because that is a big commitment.

I hopped around between career choices in life. First I wanted to be a magician, like on some David Blaine shit, but that clearly wasn’t going to work. I realized this as soon as Ir realized that I’ll never be able to learn how to shuffle a deck of cards properly. Then a detective, then a rapper I guess (for like two days MAX), and then forensic scientist, cause CSI was a cool show. After a lot of soul searching I decided to go into the college communications as my major.

A lot of people still don’t know what they want to do in life upon entering college, but at the same time, they have a pretty general idea of the things they don’t want to do in life, so the process is a little bit easier. Deciding that I wanted to focus my career on making movies and television shows wasn’t an overnight decision for me, I had to really ease myself into it. But at the same time I will always regret that I had known sooner what I wanted to do in life so I could get a head start on it, like those kids who wanted to be firefighters so they practiced sliding down regular playground poles when they were little . I’m pretty sure they’re strippers now.

I always had a passion for telling stories for as long as I could remember, and I loved writing stories for any english class I was in because it’s where I really felt tested as a kid and I could show how strong my writing was as opposed to a perfect five paragraph essay (that we don’t even do anymore). Overtime, especially during my early years in college, I told myself “this writing stuff is pretty fucking cool. I’m gonna do something with this”, and I haven’t stopped writing ever since. It’s all about searching within your past and looking about what has made you happy and why it did that in the first place.

People become  doctors because want to help people become healthy, people become dentists because they want to care for your oral hygiene even when you won’t. Everyone wants to do something for a reason. You just have to find your reason and hope that something life changing can come out of that.

Words, Words, and Words

Dialogue is, without a doubt, one the most crucial elements of a film that will make or break it for viewers. I’m gonna go as far to say that dialogue is an art form. Take a look at this scene from Quentin Tarantino’s (I didn’t pick Tarantino because he’s considered a “legend”, the man just has good dialogue, that’s all) Inglorious Basterds that is one of the most longest, dialogue heavy scenes in cinema. 

Analyzing this scene after viewing, we can tell that it is scene that heavily relies on its dialogue to move itself forward and take suspense to new heights. It establishes the current situation, which is the farmer, Perrier, who has taken runaway Jews that seek refuge from “Jew hunters” such as Lans Handa. Lans know that Perrier is stowing runaways but he can’t just come out and say that. Instead, he has a long and intense conversation that slowly builds to this knowledge, this is a prime example of great dialogue. The conversation between both Lans and the Perrier sounds natural extremely natural, and yet, there is a underlying fear between both of them because of the fact that Lans knows there are Jews directly under the floor but Perrier doesn’t realize this. Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 7.21.46 PM.png

So how does someone who’s just starting out screenwriting begin to write great dialogue such as this? In short there are several steps you can take when writing a scene to execute well-written dialogue. A helpful post from Huffington states a few tips that a writer can take to get started on their dialogue. Taking a bit from the article, one important tip that I can’t stress enough is to listen to others. Dialogue should sound like normal speech between two people.

GOOD DIALOGUE:

“Tim? Oh shit, man I haven’t seen you in years man, what’s up?”

“Matt? Matt Thomson? Christ, I haven’t seen you since, where was it? It was Boston, right?

BAD DIALOGUE:

“Hello, Tim.”

“Hello, Matt.”

“How are you?”

“I’m doing well”

“It has been years since we last saw each other.”

“Yes it has”

“I think it was Boston where I saw you last”.

Okay I didn’t want to keep bad writing dialogue any longer but, there are a lot of differences that I have clearly outlined with my examples. The good dialogue example clearly shows a natural, flowing movement of conversation. You know that Tim and Matt are old friends that haven’t seen each other in years. They’re nothing but friendly when talking to each other.  In the bad example, the conversation between the two sounds dry, generic, and just plain boring. We know they’re friends but nothing about what they’re saying shows how they felt about each other. In short, dialogue is and isn’t an easy thing to execute. You must be willing to create natural conversations between characters so that you don’t bore your audience to death in the process.