How Movie Trailers Manipulate You

Vice News: These promos are “that one form of advertising that you actually want more of,” explains Jon Penn, CEO of the National Research Group. And thanks to an increase in online availability, they’re also easier to find, watch, rewatch, analyze and share theories about.

This trailer boom has lead to an increase in the number of trailers being cut and a robust job market for professional trailer makers. More work can mean more competition, too, as a studio will often hire several vendors to work on the same trailer, picking their favorite as the face of their film’s campaign. That means trailer makers are constantly one-upping each other to be the most eye-catching and innovative of the bunch.

See also: How to make a blockbuster movie trailer and other posts tagged ‘trailers’.

What Is High Concept? Different Thoughts On Big Movie Ideas

Film Courage: What is a high concept movie idea? It’s something that has been brought up a handful of times in our interviews. We know it can be an elusive topic. Here is the best of what we have, hope you find it helpful.

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Reagan Ray has compiled an extensive gallery of retro VHS distributor logos on his blog: I was a little surprised to find out that there have been over 2,000 different movie distribution companies since the late 70s. Most of the heavy hitters are still around, but a lot of them are long out of business.

See the rest →

(via The Latest)

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Craft and creativity

Retro VHS distributor logos

“After seeing them all together, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this could have been the Dribbble popular page about 5-6 years ago.” — Reagan Ray

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The Collection

The Collection is a short documentary about two friends, DJ Ginsberg and Marilyn Wagner, and their discovery of an astonishing and unique collection of movie memorabilia, comprised of over 40,000 printer blocks and 20,000 printer plates used to create the original newspaper advertisements for virtually every movie released in the United States from the silent period through 1984, when newspapers stopped using the letterpress format.

The collection, which spans nearly the entire history of the film industry from the silent era to 1984, was recently appraised at ~$10 million and is available for acquisition. (via Kottke)

What appeals to me about this story is less the collection itself, and more the opportunity to enjoy a project like this! To unpack all of these plates, clean them, print them, catalog them… Fun! One day I hope I make a similar discovery.

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The Collection - Wizard of Oz

How To Make A Blockbuster Movie Trailer

Auralnauts: We provide you with the winning formula that turns any trailer into the blockbuster smash hit of the season it was meant to be.

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David Fincher – Invisible Details

kaptainkristian: A look at the hidden visual effects work of David Fincher’s filmography.

I knew that Fincher used a lot of CGI, but I had no idea how far he had taken this trickery. It’s hugely effective stuff.

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Title Design: The Making of Movie Titles

Academy Originals: Title designer Dan Perri explains how he designed movie titles for films such as “Star Wars,” “The Exorcist,” and “Raging Bull.”

(via Wired)

American Cinema’s White Supremacy Problem

City Absurdia: A video essay on how American cinema uses the hero–villain–damsel dynamic as a propaganda tool since The Birth of a Nation.

“To look at the Vietnam war through the lens of American cinema, you would have to believe that the war was one inflicted upon young white men by older white men, not one inflicted on a poor nation of farmers by a militarised superpower.”

Other City Absurdia video essays

(Side note: The City Absurdia channel had 69 subscribers when I discovered it. Now it has 70. I predict it will get a lot more very quickly!)

See also: Why every Hollywood movie feels the same & How Jurassic Park’s digital dinosaurs changed the movies.

10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer

After surprising audiences with numerous cinematic twists over the years, Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot have pulled another fast one on fans with the trailer release of the studio’s mystery movie, which is tied to another Abrams hit.

During the casting process, the project was first titled “The Cellar” and then changed halfway through pre-production to “Valencia” before taking on it’s final name, revealing it to be “a blood relative of ‘Cloverfield.’”Variety

The Problem with Trailers

Now You See It: Why do all trailers feel the same? How do great trailers stand out? Let’s look at the structure of trailers over time and see how they’ve grown, and why some are practically identical.

(via Laughing Squid)

Other posts on this blog about movie trailers

5 Secret Hidden Truths Behind Movie Trailers

The Inception foghorn; the bass drop; the ominous voiceover; the montage; the final gag.

Screen Rant: Nothing gets movie fans talking like an action packed trailer, which means the first public look at an upcoming film really can mean the difference between a runaway blockbuster and a box office disappointment. It’s not all that shocking that movie trailers – just like movie posters – have become an exact science, with the same colors, poses, and tricks used by every major studio. But once you take a closer look at blockbuster trailers, you may be surprised at just how similar they really are. Here are Screen Rant’s 5 Ways Movie Trailers Are All The Same.

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Star Wars souvenir program 1977
Use your words

Samuel R. Delany’s 1977 review of the original Star Wars

This contemporary review of the first Star Wars movie for Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine by Samuel R. Delany is fascinating.

Samuel R. Delaney (1969) I’m posting this about five hours before I go to see The Force Awakens, which if nothing else I expect to be a blisteringly fast film based on director J.J. Abrams previous two Star Trek films. So it’s really interesting to me how Delaney describes the original Star Wars as “about the fastest two-hour film I’ve ever seen”. By modern standards — and even by the standards of the other Star Wars films — the first installment seems quite slow.

It’s also assuring to see that from the very outset critics like Delaney were calling Star Wars out for it’s lack of human racial diversity and gender equality.


Star Wars:
A consideration of the great new S.F. film

by Samuel R. Delany

My first reactions as the final credits rose on the screen? “Now what happens?” – which is to say George (American Grafitti and THX-1138) Lucas’s Star Wars is about the fastest two-hour film I’ve ever seen: I thought I’d been in the theater maybe twenty-five minutes.

THX, if you’ll recall, looked like it was sired by Godard’s Contempt out of the space station sequence in Kubrick’s 2001i.e. it was basically white, white-on-white, and then more white. What is the visual texture of Star Wars?

Two moons shimmer in the heat above the horizon, and the desert evening fades to purple rather than blue; into the starry black, huge and/or hopelessly complex artifacts flicker, flash, spin, turn, or merely progress with ponderous motion; indoors is all machinery, some old, some new; while plastic storm troopers and dull grey generals meet and march; circus-putty aliens drink in a bar where what appears to be an automatic still gleams in the background with tarnished copper tubing; some of the spaceships are new and shiny, some are old and battered (and you get pretty good at telling the difference between the two).

Continue reading Delaney’s Star Wars review →

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(via digg)

Updated to include some animated GIFs.

See also: Jordan Bolton’s miniature film set posters

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Movie posters in motion

Wonderful animated movie posters by Pablo Fernández Eyre.

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The Hero’s Journey

Iskander Krayenbosch:

Since the beginning of time people are fascinated by stories of hero’s. But did you know there is a fundamental structure that’s lies beneath all these tales of fantasy. Joseph Campbell, a famous mythologist, was the first to discover similarities within all ancient myths. He called it the Monomyth. According to him there are 17 stages in which every hero has to walk through one way or the other. In the hero’s journey 12 of these stages are visualized by using iconic blockbuster movies that follow the same structure of storytelling.

Continue reading

Vancouver Never Plays Itself

Every Frame a Painting: Perhaps no other city has been as thoroughly hidden from modern filmmaking as Vancouver, my hometown. Today, it’s the third biggest film production city in North America, behind Los Angeles and New York. And yet for all the movies and TV shows that are shot there, we hardly ever see the city itself. So today, let’s focus less on the movies and more on the city in the background. Press the CC button to see movie names and locations.

I’d like to visit Vancouver one day. The place has become so familiar to me from shows like The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica.

Vancouver as Caprica

Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t)

RocketJump Film School:

Are computer generated visual effects really ruining movies?

We believe that the reason we think all CG looks bad, is because we only see “bad” CG. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderfully executed CG is everywhere – you just don’t know it. Truly great visual effects serve story and character – and in doing so are, by their very definition, invisible.

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Blade Runner: The B-Roll Cut

45-minute version of the film made almost entirely from unused footage (via waxy.org)

This includes what I assume must be the entirety of the awful voiceover that they made Harrison Ford record. It’s worse than I imagined it would be. The Holden scenes are pretty bad too.

See also: Blade Runner: The Final Cut and these fantastic behind the scenes photographs from the Blade Runner model shop.

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What if Man of Steel was IN COLOR?

VideoLab attempts to turn back time and restore the natural color & brightness in shots from DC’s Man of Steel. Turns out there was a beautiful Zack Snyder movie hiding underneath the bleak coloring.

Would Man of Steel have been more successful at the box office if it wasn’t colored like Schindler’s List? What do you think?

Superman should fly in blue skies – not grey ones.

Man of Steel, in colour

The colour grade wasn’t the only thing wrong with Man of Steel, but I like this look much more.

The Directors Series — David Fincher

The Directors Series is an educational non-profit collection of video and text essays by filmmaker Cameron Beyl exploring the works of contemporary and classic film directors.

This is the first part in a series on David Fincher, with the rest to follow. Beyl has already completed a series of five episodes on the life and work of Stanley Kubrick.

(via kottke)

Negron and Schiavelli
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No Small Parts

No Small Parts is a fan-made documentary series about character actors created by actor Brandon Hardesty. Each episode focuses on one particular character actor’s life and career in entertainment.

Vincent Schiavelli

I particularly loved Episode 2 about Vincent Schiavelli, known for his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ghost, Man on the Moon, and countless other films and television shows throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.

Remembering Taylor Negron

“After 30 years in show business I’ve given up on the idea that people will know my first and last name together, and I’ve accepted that I will never, ever be actually famous.
“Instead, I am fame-ish.”
Taylor Negron

Further reading: A Last Gift From The Genius Mind of Taylor Negron: Reflections On A Life Spent Playing Everyman

See also:

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Circle 7's Toy Story 3

In 2004, the partnership between Disney and Pixar came to an end, due to a feud between Pixar’s CEO Steve Jobs and Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner. Disney, who owned the rights to all of Pixar’s films, quickly established their own Pixar-like animation studio, Circle 7, and began working on sequels, including Finding Nemo 2, Monsters Inc. 2, and Toy Story 3.

In 2006, after a deal was struck between Jobs and Disney’s new CEO Bob Iger, Circle 7 Animation was shutdown, and all the sequels they had been working on scrapped.

The plot for Circle 7’s abandoned film was radically different to the Toy Story 3 that eventually hit cinemas in 2010. The script, by Meet The Parents writer Jim Herzfeld , sees the toys become concerned after spaceman action figure Buzz Lightyear begins to malfunction. Anxious to help Buzz, cowboy doll Woody and the rest of the toys decide to ship him to the Taiwanese factory where he was made, in the hopes that his makers will be able to repair him.

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The Toy Story 3 you never saw

In 2004, the partnership between Disney and Pixar came to an end. Disney quickly established their own Pixar-like animation studio, Circle 7, and began working on sequels, including Toy Story 3. — The Telegraph

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Wired: The Warped Astrophysics of Interstellar

Kip Thorne is an theoretical physicist who helped developed the concept for the movie Interstellar.

“The story is now essentially all Chris and Jonah’s,” Thorne says. “But the spirit of it, the goal of having a movie in which science is embedded in the fabric from the beginning—and it’s great science—that was preserved.”

The film put so much effort into the appearance of the black holes that they actually made some legitimate scientific findings…

Black Hole

“We found that warping space around the black hole also warps the accretion disk,” [Double Negative senior supervisor, Paul] Franklin says. “So rather than looking like Saturn’s rings around a black sphere, the light creates this extraordinary halo.” That’s what led Thorne to his “why, of course” moment when he first saw the final effect. The Double Negative team thought it must be a bug in the renderer. But Thorne realized that they had correctly modeled a phenomenon inherent in the math he’d supplied.

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Building a black hole

‘Some individual frames took up to 100 hours to render, the computation overtaxed by the bendy bits of distortion caused by an Einsteinian effect called gravitational lensing. In the end the movie brushed up against 800 terabytes of data. “I thought we might cross the petabyte threshold on this one,” [CG supervisor at Double Negative, Eugénie] von Tunzelmann says.’ — Wired

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Michael Bay – What is Bayhem?

There are filmmakers we love and then there’s Michael Bay. Even if you dislike him (as I do), Bay has something valuable to teach us about visual perception. This is an exploration of “Bayhem” — his style of camera movement, composition and editing that creates something overblown, dynamic and distinct.

Joss Whedon
Use your words

Joss Whedon’s top 10 writing tips

1. Finish it

I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.

2. Structure

I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes? The thrills? The romance? Who knows what, and when?

You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around: the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

3. Have something to say

This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs.

4. Everybody has a reason to live

Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue: you get soundbites.

5. Cut what you love

If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.

6. Listen

When I’ve been hired as a script doctor, it’s usually because someone else can’t get it through to the next level. Often someone’s just got locked, they’ve ossified, they’re so stuck in their heads that they can’t see the people around them.

7. Track the audience mood

You have one goal: to connect with your audience. Therefore, you must track what your audience is feeling at all times.

8. Write like a movie

Write the movie as much as you can. If something is lush and extensive, you can describe it glowingly; if something isn’t that important, just get past it tersely.

9. Don’t listen

Having given the advice about listening, I have to give the opposite advice, because ultimately the best work comes when somebody’s fucked the system; done the unexpected and let their own personal voice into the machine that is moviemaking. Choose your battles. You wouldn’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson, or any of these guys if all moviemaking was completely cookie-cutter.

10. Don’t sell out

The first penny I ever earned, I saved. Then I made sure that I never had to take a job just because I needed to. I still needed jobs of course, but I was able to take ones that I loved. When I say that includes Waterworld, people scratch their heads, but it’s a wonderful idea for a movie. Anything can be good. Even Last Action Hero could’ve been good.

Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips

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