One of may favorite events is the Brattle Theatre’s annual Trailer Treats night. It’s a night all about the best part of going to the movies, the trailers. The highlight of the night is the Trailer Smackdown, a contest to see who can make the best fake trailer.
The rules were announced about a month before the Smackdown. The event’s organizers give you a title as well as a list of actions, characters, genres and locations to pick from. This year we had to make a 2 minute long trailer for a non-existent movie called ”Ten”.
My group’s trailer for “Ten”:
This was our third year entering the Smackdown. Since last year’s contest, we have been toying with the idea of doing a musical. After learning this year’s title, we thought that the story of the man on the ten dollar bill, Alexander Hamilton, would make a great musical.
Writing the script and the songs took about two and a half weekes. Then we only had a week and a half to record the songs, shoot the video and edit it all together. It’s was important to record the music first, so that the actors could lip synch to the music. The vocals were all original but the music was Apple Garageband loops (had to take a shortcut).
We were lucky to have so many musically talented people on our team. Our Alexander Hamilton, Rev, sings and plays bass in several bands including the Evil Streaks and Flowers in the Basement. And yes “Rev” is the name he goes by. The vocals for Aaron Burr were not recorded by Evan, who plays Aaron in the trailer, but by Matt Williams (who also plays Ben Franklin). Matt’s an amazing singer who is the musical director of the Mass Whole Notes.
We lucked out by shooting the weekend before the fourth of July as that’s the prefect time to find cheap tri-corner hats and powdered wigs. Although, after three days of shooting in 90 degree heat, the cheap wigs didn’t look or smell too good.
On our first day of shooting we got did our two “large” group musical numbers. Everyone was excited for the shoot and didn’t mind dressing funny and dancing in public. Despite the heat, it was a blast to shoot. The next two days of shooting focused on Evan and Rev (our Aaron and Alex). I was very impressed with both of their performances and I think they both have some serious acting chops.
Our trailer was shot on a 5DmrkII. I cut it in Final Cut Pro X. I went with FCPX because of it’s audio synch feature made it easy to synch the pre-recorded music to the video. However, after tring FCPX for almost a year, I’m really not happy with it. Next time I try a project like this, I’m going to use Plural Eyes and either Avid or Premiere. (What’s wrong with FCPX is a topic for another day). I used Magic Bullet Looks for help with color grading. I also pushed most of the close-up shoots through Magic Bullet’s beautifying filter – Cosmo.
Thanks to the hard work of a lot of talented people, we managed to finish on time. On July 12 our trailer was screened with the other sixteen trailers that were submitted to the Smackdown. All the trailers were amazing. What’s so fun about this contest is that everyone goes all out. Links to some of my favorites are at the end of this post. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, all that matters is that you have fun making your trailer. And we had a lot of fun making our trailer.
… however, we did also win.
I’m in shock that we won, as there where so many other good trailers. However, I’m also very proud of the hard work everyone on my team put into this trailer. I can’t wait for next year to do it all again.
A few of my favorite trailers by other teams:
I was happy to see Collective Fedora win second place for this true story about the Beatles:
This really sums up the nature of making trailers for fake movies and won third place.
Funny film about how tough it is to be a parent…