Write For The Trailer

I believe I mentioned this in my book. Could be. Might not be. It’s not like I spend every night reading it before I go to bed.

But you should.

Anyway, this is a technique to kickstart the old brain and come up with interesting scenes / images that might not come any other way.

Knowing what a trailer is like, all sorts of cool shots with the most compelling moments of the film blasting by to amazing music… you write scenes for your trailer. Not caring a whit about story or coherence. Just cool stuff!

Here’s how I do it.

Put on music. Loud, preferably. Perhaps that relates to what you are writing… Flamenco for a Central American dictator movie. Verdi for a mafia story. Or music that bears no relation to your story… Punk for family drama. Hip Hop for Jane Austen. It works on your brain in all kinds of ways, music.

And then, with the music blasting, write stuff for your trailer. Just for the trailer. Not for your story, the characters, anything you’re going to use… and keep pounding those keys until you’re worn to a frazzle. Then switch music and keep going. Amazing what you’ll come up with. Amazing how, after a day or so of not looking at it, you come back and marvel… “I thought of THAT?!”

And some of it will be garbage. Some will be amazing. Here’s some of what I came up with for my gangster film… some was inspired, not by music, but a Google image search…

Joe throwing dirt in his mother’s grave
Joe crying because he had to kill someone himself
throwing whisky bottles against a brick wall
whisky barrels breaking
dragging an opponent through the streets behind a beer truck
little kids dumping beer on the dead body
practice using a Thompson… hard to control… funny, and wild… nearly kill somebody, until they learn to control it
killing someone with a fire axe, coming down a hall swinging it like a halberd
snow coming down on a pool of blood
night, snow. poor people in a line, waiting for food, while wealthy people go by in fancy cars
Joe stops to give poor people money. They act like he’s Robin Hood. Worship him.
explosion at the hotel
bomb proof car… bomb blows up and it’s okay… then someone with a wrecking ball knocks it into the river
wrecking ball / crane. Estab. Then, later, someone uses it to kill an opponent. Squashing him against a building.
trucks with liquor driving across frozen river… falling through the ice
men under the ice, drowning with liquor bottles flowing downstream with them under ice
zeppelin flying over downtown

Enjoy doing this. It’s fun.
Also, wonderful exercise when you’re stuck.


1 Comment

Filed under Good Writing, Scenes, Screenwriting, Writing Process

One response to “Write For The Trailer

  1. Michael Darby

    Yep, great idea, and great fun! But, when I come to put these images into my screenplay, I suppose I should nevertheless make sure they’re relevant to the story; musn’t let the tail wag the dog! By the way, I’m not impressed by modern trailers. Compare them to the trailers of the golden era of cinema, even up to the mid-eighties. They really knew how to make trailers in those days!

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