2. With my current knowledge of films and their trailers, I noticed that there are two types;
teaser trailer and an international trailer. So I decided to research the difference between
the Teaser Trailer and a full length/international trailer.
•Teasers are a part of viral campaigns to get films recognised and noticed by target audiences and
the film world.
•From the name ‘teaser’, it is clear that their objective is to grab attention so that audiences will
notice the other promotional packages for the media text such as the full length trailer, posters
and other virals.
•Films are not the only type of media who use teasers, games, books and TV shows also use them
as a way of recognising the existence of the text and to highlight the fact more promotion is on its
•Trailers are shown on television breaks, cinemas, before the film is shown at the cinema, at train
stations (especially tube stations ie. London), on film sites (when a new trailer is released for
example), at film conventions, on websites and even on the radio.
3. Some examples of teasers for TV and
Game Of Thrones Teaser FIFA 10 Teaser
Both of these teasers have one thing in common:
•They do not give any narrative or character description away, but they have small clips of footage.
Because these clips are out of context, they make little sense however their main area of genre is
clear. Audiences who are intrigued by these teasers are likely to watch the real promotions and are
therefore much more likely to buy or watch the media.
4. In my research I found that film teasers work in the exact same way. Researching
histories of teaser trailers, I found that they have been used for many years and in many
different ways. Here are some examples of well known film teasers and their impact.
The very first teaser for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) was attached to the beginning of A
Bug’s Life (1998) and The Siege (1998), and because of the anticipation for the film from fans, it was
reported that many people paid for tickets to the films only to see the trailer and then leave.
5. Some instances of film teasers are created before the initial film has even started
production and are revealed up to a year before the actual film’s release date. An example
of this is The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Cloverfield (2008).
•The Cloverfield teaser shows lots of footage from the real film but like a teaser, gives no plot away.
Another noticeable point of the teaser is that it does not give the film’s title; instead it reads the
director’s name and the date the film will be released.
•The Da Vinci Code teaser is different to the one for Cloverfield, because it doesn’t feature any footage
from the film. There is a strong, bold voice over which ambiguously describes an ‘it’, revealing a picture
of the famous Mona Lisa painting while explaining that ‘the journey has just begun’ which entices
audiences to this new film. It reveals the title and the cast of the film, but in a true teaser trailer way
does not give away anything.
6. Trailers aim to advertise films and try to interest audiences into going to see them. Unlike
teasers, trailers show footage from the film and usually reveal funny, exciting or important clips
so that the audience want to see the film in its running time context. Most trailers avoid revealing
spoilers for the film, so that audience’s experiences are not ruined and they do this by not using
clips of footage in their regular order. A simpler term for defining a trailer would be a montage of
footage from the film, revealing its genre, basic storyline and the actors or characters.
Footage known as ‘special shoot’ is recorded for the trailer and promotion, but this footage is not
used in the theatrical film. A common style a few decades ago featured directors or actors talking
to the audience through trailers and explaining the film. A famous example of this is Alfred
Hitchcock’s tour of the ‘Bates Hotel’ in his famous film Psycho (1960).
7. In my research I found that trailers follow a structure of a an act 1(beginning/introduction), act 2
(middle) and an act 3 which usually covers a montage of the film, a cast list or a final quote or
shot to entice audiences.
With my knowledge of Todorov’s narrative theory (1960), I used his stages in looking at trailers.
Using the narrative theory of Equilibrium, Disruption, Recognition of Disruption, Repair and
Restoration, I realised that nearly all trailers follow this structure:
-Recognition of Disruption
-Attempt of Repair
Of course, not all trailers follow this and some simply show the Disruption or leave out the
Attempt of Repair. The ‘Repair’ and ‘Restoration’ in a general sense, are not shown because
audiences will not want to see the film in full knowing how the characters get on or the film
8. How To Train Your Dragon (2010 dir. Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders.)
In How To Train Your Dragon, the Equilibrium is seen as the Vikings fighting learning to fight dragons as their
enemy and the disruption comes from one of the characters making friends with a dragon. Hiccup realises that
humans can be friends with dragons and he attempts to show them that they can be friends instead of fighting.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006 dir. Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris)
The Equilibrium for Little Miss Sunshine is the family living their everyday lives. The little girl, Olive, being chosen
to participate in a beauty pageant is half of the disruption, with the other half finding transport and money to get
there. The family recognise the disruption and attempt to repair it by driving to California in their yellow truck.
9. Inglourious Basterds (2009 dir. Quentin Tarantino)
This trailer uses one piece of footage with montages throughout, but the narrative theory can still be applied.
The Equilibrium for the soldiers is killing Nazi’s as this is their duty, but the disruption could be seen as their
fight back. Vice versa, the disruption could be seen from the Nazi’s point of view as them being killed.
Gulliver’s Travels (2010 dir. Rob Letterman)
Guilver’s life appears to be at equilibrium of his usual life at work, until he is disrupted by being transported to a
weird island. His recognition of the disruption is clear on the island and he attempts to repair it by becoming the
island’s ‘king’ and manipulating the people.
10. Brokeback Mountain (2005 dir. Ang Lee)
This trailer reveals a lot of the plot, but the theory still applies because the two men are seen in their Equilibrium while at their work.
The disruption comes along when the men fall in love and their recognition is knowing they cannot be together because society will
not accept them. Their attempt at repairing their disruption is marrying other people and living their normal lives.
To grasp an understanding of what the codes and conventions of real film trailers are, I have decided to look at a few trailers for the
main film genres. After this first piece of research, I will choose one or two genres that I am interested in and carry out further
11. Action Adventure
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010 dir. Mike Newel)
The format for this trailer features a small clip before the film’s
production company logo, which acts as a type of ‘cold opening’ to a
trailer because it entices the audience to the trailer because this small
30 second clip has only revealed the main focus of the film but not put it
into context. After the logo, voiceovers are used to explain the main
story of the film. In this instance, the voiceover explains that the main
character is a Prince and that he has to destroy this famous dagger. The
trailer then looks at the journey the prince has to overcome in order to
repair the disruption (see Todorov’s theory), through a series of
montages of action shots (clearly stating the genre) and a few longer
shots (longer than 5 seconds) to show parts of the film. These short
shots include a hint at a romantic development between characters and
an example of the magic dagger at work.
Indiana Jones (1981 dir. Steven Spielberg)
This trailer begins with the film’s production company logo. An
establishing shot is used to show the desert setting, then a voiceover
explains the ‘lost ark’. Shots of characters talking about the ark with
cutaways to the ‘ark’ are shown. The voiceover continues to explain the
film, paired with action incidental music that hints at who the ‘hero’
and ‘villain’ of the film are. The voiceover says the name of the directors
and producers, with the film’s theme music playing, showing action
shots of the film which defines the genre.
Shrek (2001 dir. Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson)
In this trailer for Shrek, a cold opening scene is used to show a part of
the film that audiences will be interested in- a donkey yelling the words
‘dragon!’ Once the logo for the production company is shown, a
voiceover places audiences into the setting of the film of a ‘fairytale’
and introduces the characters of a villain, princess and hero. Some of
the action and funny scenes are shown through a series of montages
but with no context so audiences do not fully understand. The voiceover
lists the famous actor’s names as their animated character is shown.
The trailer finishes with another two short clips from scenes of the film.
Despicable Me (2010 dir. Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud)
This trailer takes a similar form to Shrek. A short clip is shown at the
beginning, before the producer’s logo and followed by a voiceover
introducing the character of Gru. Gru’s motives are clear that he is a
supposed villain but the montage of clips introduces his problem that he
faces in the film. The voiceover reveals the name of the voice behind the
main character with a text frame of other voices for audiences to
My Cousin Vinny (1992 dir. Jonathan Lynn)
This trailer begins with the logo of the production company and then
reveals the first part of the film with the use of a voiceover. The narrator
reveals the story of the two boys who got into trouble and need a
lawyer. The voiceover along with a soundtrack of a fun electronic beaty,
introduces the main character of the title ‘Vinny’. There are then a
series of clips that show his funny side, making the film’s genre clear as
a comedy. The voiceover continues to describe the film and sell it to
audiences and introduces the actor portraying the main character and
Zoolander (2001 dir. Ben Stiller)
For this trailer, the voiceover starts from the beginning and talks about
a character with cutaways to other people (famous people, setting the
scene for the Hollywood setting) also talking about the character. The
character is then revealed and he is described by the voiceover with
cutaways to clips from the film. The voiceover says the actors name
with clips of their character so that audiences recognise them. A few
more clips from the film are shown through a montage.
The Shawkshank Redemption (1994 dir. Frank Darabont)
The logo for the production company is shown with the voice from a
character over it. They explain a murder case while cutaways flash back to
the case that is being spoken about while the man gets charged with a
fade to black. This acts in a similar way to a cold opening of a film but for a
trailer. This is followed by an establishing shot a long piece of orchestra
music while a montage of clips from the film is shown. A voiceover from
the film, describes the main character as he came to the prison and how he
gets on. Within this voiceover, the montage of clips from the film is shown.
The music continues to give the dramatic, emotional feel for audiences to
recognise. The piece of music begins to fade out while the title of the film is
shown. No ‘bold’ voiceovers are used, just ones from the film.
Changeling (2008 dir. Clint Eastwood)
The trailer for Changeling begins with the logo of the production company
and a small clip with no dialogue, with a piece of dramatic music in the
background. Over a black screen, a title of the date in which the film is set
is shown. The next piece of footage shows the main character as she tells
the story of her son who went missing, with a cutaway to a flashback as
the music continues. The next title reveals the film is ‘based on a true
story’, while the woman continues with the story. Once the ‘shock’ of the
drama is shown, the music changes as a montage of a series of clips are
shown which revealing a little to the plot. These hints at the plot include
the journey the main character has to face in hope of finding her son.
Through the montage, the black screen with titles read the director and
the actors including their academy award nominations or wins. The title is
revealed over a black screen at the end.
Let Me In (2010 dir. Matt Reeves)
This trailer begins with the logo of the production company followed by a
few daunting beats of music. With each beat, a new title or scene is shown
as the trailer goes on to show the new friendship between two teenagers.
While their dialogue continues, montages of the film are shown and with
the titles, reveal that not everything in this town is what it seems. Once
this title is shown, a new tone of music is played and the beat and cuts
becomes faster, with screams heard through the audio. The pace of the
trailer quickens as it begins to show the genre of a horror. The cuts become
more rapid as the trailer continues, with more dreary music. The tagline
for the film is shown while the title of the film is revealed at the end once
the music and clips stop.
The Cabin In The Woods (2011 dir. Drew Goddard)
The trailer for The Cabin In The Woods does not begin with a logo, instead
if starts with a fun, party song while a group of teenagers are seen driving
a van on the way to a vacation. But the music suddenly stops, while a
dreary ghostly sound is heard while the production company logo (which is
usually white but is red for the ‘horror’) is shown. The music stops, and
chilling sounds are heard as the characters appear to feel vulnerable in this
isolated town at their cabin. The titles reveal that this is a different type of
‘horror’ than what audiences think, even though the stereotypical creepy
cabin is shown through a series of clips. Then through a montage of
clips, the trailer reveals that the group of teenagers in the cabin are being
watched and the dreary music begins to increase in pace while the cuts for
the film speed up. The soundtrack is a mix of a techy, suspenseful track and
a song from an electric instrument band. The title for the film is shown
while the music stops, but a clip follows after which heightens tension. The
clip ends with a blast of the music and the details about the film
The Lake House (2006 dir. Alejandro Agresti)
A short clip that acts as a cold opening is used here, where a woman
narrates that the ‘lake house’ made her feel like herself. The production
logo appears and then the trailer follows a series of clips explaining the
peculiar effect of this ‘lake house’. Two people start sending messages
as the music stays soft and gentle. The titles across the moving image
explain how the character lives ‘two years apart’. A voiceover starts to
explain that this story is about love, while the music changes to a
soundtrack of a slow, steady and soft love song. A montage of clips
from the film is shown with two references and a voiceover introducing
the two lead actors and ending with a title shot of the film with the
voiceover saying the title- ‘The Lake House’.
City of Angels (1998 dir. Brad Silberling)
This trailer begins with the film production company and a few shots
from the film, as the voiceover explains the concept of the film ‘angels’.
The trailer continues with a montage of clips from the film as the
voiceover narrates the basic plot of the film; an angel falling in love
with a human. A slow, soft song plays in the background. The titles of
the trailer read the disruption of the film ‘she would give up anything on
earth…etc…’.The voiceover tells the name of the actors and the film as
the trailer ends.
Star Trek (2009 dir. J.J. Abrams)
This trailer starts with a scene of a boy driving a car and then revealing
his name. The production company logo follows with a soundtrack of
beats and a sci-fi eeriness to it. Then a voiceover from one of the
characters in the film, talks over a series of clips as he explains that a
man is very special and he has a certain fate, while the visuals are of a
man riding to a space ship. The music continues as the title reads the
director’s name, followed by a few clips in a montage as another
character talks highly of someone else. The montage that follows shows
a series of explosions and spaceships, revealing the genre. A few clips
with dialogue show the disruption of the film, while the cuts of the clip
get quicker as the pace of the music speeds up. One last clip before the
title is not sped up as the character, presumable the villain reveals, ‘the
wait is over’ while the franchise icon is shown against a black screen.
The icon is followed by the film’s title and details of the film.
Total Recall (1990 dir. Paul Verhoeven)
This trailer begins with the film’s production company and a clip from
the film revealing a robotic woman. The music in the background is
eerie and continues while the black screen reads the name of one of the
actors from the film. The trailer then follows a series of montage clips of
the film, explaining that the main character is on the run on the planet
mars. The trailer continues in this manner with a sci-fi track in the
background, ending with the film’s title.
18. Black Swan (2010 dir. Darren Aronofsky)
While the production logos begin the trailer, ballet music begins over them leading into a
voiceover by the main character as the visuals change to a ballet dancer. The music stops
the screen changes to black. The set of text reveals the director over the feathered
background, while violin and string music starts to play a continuing drone. The music
continues at a steady pace, while a montage of different clips and dialogue are seen,
showing the main plot of the film is a ballet dancer wanting a lead role. The cuts and pace
of music start to become quicker and while a piece of dialogue says ‘the only person
standing in your way is yourself’, the visuals show the main character in front of a mirror as
her reflection turns on her and the lights go out. The music also stops. Again the pace of
the music increases and the cuts become quicker, as the music moves towards a crescendo.
The names of actors are shown with another scene followed. Her breathing is heard and a
small drone from a violin is played over the film’s titles.
The Prestige (2006 dir. Christopher Nolan)
This trailer begins with a small scene. The production company logos appear as the man’s
voice is heard saying ‘magic’. A series of clips are shown as a montage showing two
magicians in their show. The titles explain that ‘a friendship becomes a rivalry’ and the clips
that follow show the two characters. The titles reveal the director of the film and his
previous ones and continue to show text of the different ‘acts’ in magic. A voiceover from a
character in the film explains each act including the one called ‘the prestige’ while the
visuals show clips from the film. The soundtrack begins to speed up, with peaks of sudden
crescendos as the clips are cut. The last part of the trailer quickens but slows with two clips
at the end which explain the aspect of magic in the film and its meaning to a character.
Just after, lots of clips are shown within 5 seconds using quick cuts and then reveal the title
of the film. The actors names are shown as text followed by information of the film.
True Grit (2010 dir. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
This trailer begins with a character’s voiceover being heard as he asks a character a
question while there are visuals of the man shooting and other action clips. The production
company logo is then shown as the soundtrack continues behind it. The visuals then set the
scene of a town and show a young girl calling for a character. During this conversation
there are cutaways to clips from the film. Text shows the production company followed by
another few short clips showing the characters. Another set of text appears showing who
the film is made by. With each loud drum beat in the music, the film flashes more text
showing what else the directors have made. Montages of clips are shown as the dialogue
over it is taken from a few of these clips, setting out the basic plot for audiences. The beats
of the western-esque soundtrack speed up as the cuts of clips do too, showing the film’s
genre of a western. A few clips from each of the most famous actors are shown with the
text of their name. With the sound effect of a gun explosion the title of the film is shown
which is followed by a short clip ending with a gunshot, revealing when the film is due for
3:10 To Yuma (2007 dir. James Mangold)
Just before this trailer show the production company logo at the beginning, a clip that lasts
only a second shows a long shot of the setting of the film. With a beat from a soundtrack of
a drum, the production company logo appears which is followed by a few more clips
broken up when the drum beats with flashes or fades to black. These all heighten tension
as a man is seen shooting another man. A small piece of dialogue is heard of the man
talking about stealing with a cut to a black screen with text describing the setting of ‘a
lawless land.’ Following this, a small montage of clips show a man who lives in poverty and
how he comes to go on a search for the wanted man. The trailer then shows another set of
text, explaining what else the director has made previously. More clips are shown in a fast
pace as the drum beats speed up, showing more aspects of the film and clearly showing
that the film is a western. Another set of text shows when the film is due out (‘This fall’).
Other clips show the attempt at repairing the disruption of the film but do not go on to
show if the characters are successful or not. A shot of each main actor is shown with their
name titled over the visuals. The soundtrack changes into a higher pitch as the title of the
film is shown over black.
20. After looking at the different trailers for the different film genres, I have decided to look more
closely at the genre ‘Thriller’ and investigate the type of different conventions of the genre for
their trailers. After research I will decide if this is the chosen genre I wish to focus on for my own