Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Book Trailer

“Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance.” –SNL

With every new book, comes the need, desire, or time for promotion. The time when we have to get out from behind our desk and dance. I have not ventured much into the book trailer business, but I am going to conquer the beast now.

Courage Has No Color is coming to the small screen. So we can entice people to read it. And if by some small miracle, the small screen entices someone to move it to the big screen, I won’t object.

Book trailers, I am told, are super short—mine will be 60 to 90 seconds. So, really, how hard can it be?

Can you hear me laughing?

It is not so much that it is hard, per se, but that it is a complex and multi-layered thing. There are choices, always choices, to be made. Voice over or not? Male or female voice? Music? Stock or original? Do you have photographic stills and the permission to use them? Video footage, and the permission to use it? And before any of that, do you have…the script.

The script is what I am currently working on. How hard can it be, you ask, to write a 60 second script? Even at 90 seconds total running length, 60 seconds is more than enough to work with. So you write a very flap-copy-sounding script. And then you throw it out.

Try again. Throw it out again. Too boring. And too long.

I think about what people like to hear at signings and have an idea: Read some small part of the book that is so exciting I don’t want it to end. I time myself reading it. 2 minutes, 18 seconds. Too long!

I read it again; this time deliberately making cuts as I go.

Time: 1 minute, 50 seconds. I managed to cut a little off my time, but it’s still waaayyyy too long. And back to the drawing board I go. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually, and I can move on to storyboarding and seeing what pull-out text I can use and how the photos and video will play out. It’s a lot of work, but can be really effective.

Anita Silvey’s new book about plants and their discoverers has a very interesting trailer:

And here is one for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which features the author talking about her process.

Wish me luck—as soon as the Courage trailer is finished, I will post it here!


Fortunate One said...

Tanya, perhaps you could take a cue from the reviews and comments for George Lucas' film about the Tuskegee airmen like this one.
What stood out in the story line or what questions might viewers/readers have had/will have
about the topic? What particular kind of courage did these heroes possess? Just a suggestion. Your post laying out the thinking process is one that students could emulate.

Myra Zarnowski said...

A similar problem emerged yesterday in my undergraduate class in teaching social studies in the elementary school. My students are deeply involved in preparing lessons they will teach while student teaching this semester.

One student working on introducing the geography of Africa to third graders (mandated curriculum in NYC) looked up and asked me, "So how do I make it interesting?"

I agree with the previous comment by "Fortunate One." Let's all think about revealing how we make things interesting.