Unless you’re a mongo movie studio owned by a multi-national company, then it’s likely you’ll need to make your own movie trailer.

So, here are 12 steps for maximizing your DIY movie trailer experience for total awesomeness — and audience interaction.

(If you’re looking to improve your overall game, check out our resource on “How to Direct a Movie.”)

12 Tips for Making Your Film’s Trailer

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #1: Know what’s at stake
Description: There is no better way to market your movie than through a good trailer. In the age of YouTube and viral videos, a good trailer can quickly find an audience for your film. Know your target audience. Know what they’ll love about your film, and don’t mess it up!
http://www.microfilmmaker.com/tipstrick/Issue14/Edit_Trl.html

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #2: Have someone else make your trailer
Description: I know you know your film better than anyone else, but that is exactly why you should not make the trailer. You know too much. You’re too familiar with it. You’ll fill in the gaps your trailer may leave subconsciously which could result in a confusing trailer. Plus, you’re too biased. Your favorite part that needs to be in the trailer, may not actually make sense there.
http://filmmakermagazine.com/37093-first-impressions/

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #3: Keep it structured
Description: Your trailer needs to tell a mini story. In most cases, this means following the 3-Act Structure. Don’t just throw a highlight reel at the audience.
http://www.fastcocreate.com/3031012/9-short-storytelling-tips-from-a-master-of-movie-trailers

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #4: Leave out the parts that aren’t working and lead with your best material
Description: In a dream world, your film in perfect without flaws, but in reality, there probably are a few things that don’t exactly work perfectly. It may seem obvious, but don’t put these in the trailer! Lead with your best material! Even bad movies can have an amazing trailer and that’s because they break down what works and leave out what doesn’t.
http://www.microfilmmaker.com/tipstrick/Issue14/Edit_Trl.html

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #5: Hook people immediately
Description: Attention spans are at their all-time low, it’s imperative that you hook the audience immediately. Whether that be with a funny joke, a clever bit of dialogue, or a great song, you have to get the audience to pay attention from the first second.
http://www.fastcocreate.com/3031012/9-short-storytelling-tips-from-a-master-of-movie-trailers

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #6: Keep building
Description: Your trailer needs to always be escalating. It needs to be getting funnier as it goes if it’s a comedy, scarier as it goes if it’s for a thriller, and more dramatic if it’s a drama. You need to take the audience to the peak and leave them there so that they’ll be begging for more.
http://www.fastcocreate.com/3031012/9-short-storytelling-tips-from-a-master-of-movie-trailers

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #7: Be efficient
Description: With a movie trailer, you have to cram in an entire movie in just a few minutes which means you have to be extremely resourceful when it comes to what clips you use. Opt for shots and pieces of dialogue that accomplish multiple things. Make sure nothing is wasted and that every frame has its purpose.
http://filmmakermagazine.com/37093-first-impressions/

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #8: Know the genre conventions, but…
Description: Know the genre conventions– what typically happens in a comedy trailer, documentary trailer, love story trailer– but don’t let your reliance on them make your trailer boring. You need your movie to stand out from all the others. You need your audience to decide that something about yours is both different and worth seeing.
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/jun/16/how-to-make-a-movie-trailer

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #9: Know your movie
Description: When it comes to trailer-making time, you’re going to have to decide what will best suit your story. Would you trailer benefit from a narration or is that too overdone? Has it won any festivals? Would tooting your horn and listing them be helpful to an audience or off-putting? Can you throw in “Based on True Events” or will that cheapen it? Know who your audience is.
http://filmmakermagazine.com/37093-first-impressions/

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #10: Rely on music to keep the rhythm
Description: For a movie trailer, your rhythm is everything and music can help with that immensely. Rhythm will help you build anticipation which is what a trailer is all about. It will also help establish the tone of your film. Find the right music and your job will be much easier.
http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/selling-the-sizzle-how-to-create-an-effective-trailer-and-get-yours-done-free

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #11: Never resolve anything
Description: Leave your story open-ended and keep the audience guessing. Don’t answer any questions for them. You don’t want to give too much away or the audience won’t feel they need to see your movie. Keep them guessing, raise the stakes, and make them wonder what will happen next.
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/jun/16/how-to-make-a-movie-trailer

Make Your Own Movie Trailer Tip #12: Have a great ending
Description: Your audience will remember what they see at the end of your trailer before they remember what was at the beginning– so make it great! It’s often a good idea to end with a joke, even in the most serious of films–it’ll allow the audience to understand that even though the film is heavy, there are still some light-hearted moments.
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/jun/16/how-to-make-a-movie-trailer

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About The Author

Michael Rogan
Editor, ScriptBully Magazine
Google+

Michael Rogan is a former screenplay reader and optioned screenwriter. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of ScriptBully magazine, and has written a few non-sucky books including "How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell)". He has made it his mission to help screenwriters kick ass - and rid the world of films based on action-figure lines.

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