How to Create a Book Trailer
When I decided that I wanted to create a book trailer for the re-launch of Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, I began with a google search of 'how to' articles. They were wonderfully informative and led me to finding the music and video footage that I imagined would provide a compelling visual story to describe my novel.
All I needed to do was upload it into imovies. Right?
Turns out, the only thing I've ever been able to get into imovies is a video of my brother John singing 'Happy Birthday' to me during a snow storm in March. Three. years. ago.
Luckily, I quickly remembered that my friend Mariellen Romer had recently left a prominent career in business to pursue her passion for film making. While I had no illusions that my little project would provide an adequate challenge, I wanted to ask if I could hire her to create the book trailer.
She quickly (and amazingly) agreed. Then just as quickly introduced me to her partner, Ed Shoemaker. Together they comprise: Three Moon Bay, with the very appropriate slogan: Telling Stories Through Film.
After one phone call and many, many, many emails, they took my sketchy description and came up with the evocative and hauntingly beautiful book trailer you see above.
What I want to accomplish in my own 'How to...' post is to let Mariellen and Ed tell you, in their own words, how work with a filmmaker to create your own book trailer...how to get your vision across, while letting the filmmaker use their talents to create the best final product.
Here's our conversation....
Q: When I came to you with my need for a book trailer for my novel, I'd already picked out my music and some newsreel footage that I wanted to use. Is that usual or helpful for a client to have that much of a formed vision for their video? Or do you want more creative latitude to choose the music and images yourself?
M: We find that clients with a vision who are committed to a result - a response of some sort in the viewer – are more helpful to work with than one with no ideas at all. But there’s plenty of latitude for creativity even where someone has already identified images or music. Clients who are willing to collaborate closely but are also open to alternative possibilities is our ideal. You certainly fit that bill, Suzanne.E: I think that it is very helpful to have a client that has a vision of what they would like to see. I think that it is far more difficult to work with someone who has no vision.There were lots creative decisions that we made using the content that you provided us so I don't feel that we lacked any latitude when creating your book trailer. For example, in the footage you provided us there was the image of a very young child in a stroller being rolled along that in some respects looked very much like the footage we did incorporate of people fleeing with their children. One of the reasons I did not include that particular footage because the image was for me, just too powerful. It was emotionally overwhelming and I think it would have been a distraction in telling the story ofyour book. Maybe it's because I am a dad but this image will haunt me forever…There were certainly other things that I would have liked to do. I really would have enjoyed doing an interview with you so that people could understand what motivates you to write and what compelled you to write this particular story. These, to me, are incredibly interesting questions…
Q: One of the most astonishing aspects of working with you both is that the finished product is exactly what I'd envisioned without me ever expressing it directly to either of you. I guess another way of asking is: how do you create a video for a book that you've never read? How do you come up with the theme or concept for the video?E: In creating this book trailer for you, you came to us with some fairly compelling content. That content along with the information that you did provide us about your book really informed us on how we might proceed. We also, with your help, did some research to determine what others had done in the book trailer space and started from there.It was an interesting challenge in that I wanted the viewer to follow the story about your book on the right hand side of the screen without paying too close attention to the compelling visuals on the left side of the screen that were helping to tell the story.If people haven't seen the book trailer yet there are a number of places that you can see it: http://vimeo.com/36143035 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?
M: Stories also carry universal themes that audiences tap into subconsciously – escaping from danger, the death of a close family member, hope against despair, the fear of going mad or the heartbreak of impossible choices. We used the content to tap into those themes and draw the audience into the experience.
Q: Can you give us a peek into the video making process?E: Creating this book trailer was little unusual in that we didn’t actually go out and film anything! It was a little unusual too in that we were working from material that had already been pretty tightly edited challenging us to get the "perfect" shots out of the material so we could tell the story of your book. But if we were to break the film making process down into the steps that we generally take it would be something like:· We try to discover the story that our client wants to tell
· We try and film and photograph people, places and things that are germane and help tell that story
· We gather and create elements, like music and graphics, that support the story and the film
· We edit all of those pieces together
· We try and test what we have produced as we go along to gauge peoples reaction and make sure what we have done is having the desired response
· We refine what we have done until it worksQ: When we worked on the book trailer for Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, Mariellen was in England, I was in Colorado, and Ed was in Washington. All of our communication was via email, and yet it all worked. How do you two manage to work across continents?E: The magic of the internet is how we span the distance! We use e-mail to communicate but we also use web based video conferencing (Windows Live Messenger in our case), VoIP for low cost phone calls (Vonage) and sites like Vimeo to share the film as it went from rough concept to finished product. As for the time zone difference, we just don't get all of the sleep that we should!Q: If an author wants to engage you to create a book trailer video, how much time do you need to create video from first contact to finished product?E: I hate to say this but, it depends. Things like access to content and other projects we have in the pipeline influence how long it might take to produce a book trailer. But if you want to know what our experience might suggest I would say between one and four weeks, depending…With all that being said for us it's still more about, did I get the story right, when someone watches something we've produced, than how much time did it take to produce it. It may take a little time to get it right.Q: Now please tell us a little about yourselves....how did you come to video/film making? And what do you enjoy most or least about working with new clients?E: I think that you can sum up, "how did you come to film making", by saying that it is about the passion for storytelling. Our tools and canvas may be a little different than say, a sculpture's tools, but I think that the same things drive us to do what we do.I think that we enjoy working with new people because it's a new story for us to discover and tell…
M: We enjoy working with new people because it's a new story for us to discover and tell. On the other hand, with longer term clients we find we can develop some of their stories in new ways as we get to know them more, which is also great fun. As they get more comfortable they are often willing to try new things which keeps things fresh for everyone.
Q: And finally, if an author is interested in working with you, how can they get in touch with you?E: The quickest way is to get in touch with us is to send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. And if people would like to see some of our other work they can go to: http://vimeo.com/threemoonbay/
There you go......if you need a reference from an author who has worked with Mariellen and Ed, email me. I highly recommend these two. They were a pleasure to work with, they're incredible perfectionists, wonderfully patient, and always insightful and creative. In the end, they created a mini-film that perfectly captures my vision of Mrs. Tuesday's Departure and which I hope will capture future readers' imaginations. What could be better than that?