Behind the Scenes

 

is it a trailer or a movie? yes.
Trailer's opening shot has a supered title that reads, "based on a true story." Anyone who's seen the film knows it isn't true - strictly speaking. But when Douglas Horn wrote the script for Trailer -- after feeling he'd been suckered into one too many lackluster films by a slick theatrical trailer -- he could just imagine studio executives sitting around and planning how they would fool the audience into seeing their crappy movie. The movie was born out of that idea.

He knew that audiences were very familiar with trailers. If he was going to satirize them, he would have to do it right. To discover what makes the archetypal trailer, Douglas spent weeks watching and re-watching over 100 theatrical trailers on DVD special features.

shooting a feature to make a trailer
Originally, Douglas planned to shoot Trailer on DV format. Then a screenwriter friend introduced him to Paco Farias. An LA actor, Paco (Gideon's Crossing, The Price of Glory) was working as an editor in a post-production facility.

Paco told Douglas that the only way to make this work was for it to look like an actual trailer. That meant shooting in 35mm. The production didn't have the money to do that the traditional way, but Paco was able to introduce Douglas to several people in the LA film community who jumped in with offers of free and reduced-cost services.

But a big problem still loomed: Setups. Since trailers show the best scenes of a movie two seconds at a time, shooting the whole film in one or two locations would be impossible. The producers had to scout locations that could look like three of four different places. Most days, they would have to move the camera and equipment to a completely different set up several times. The typical 110-minute feature film has around 300 setups. Shooting the eight-and-a-half minute Trailer required almost 90.

Many independent filmmakers shoot a trailer as a way to get support for their feature. Douglas and Paco knew they had to shoot all the big scenes of a feature to make Trailer.

 

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