Making a Movie Trailer: The Ultimate Dos and Don’ts Guide

A couple watching a movie trailer in a theatre.

If you’re venturing into the world of filmmaking, you’ve undoubtedly realized that making a movie trailer is an art form in itself. Crafting a captivating movie trailer is your golden ticket to drawing audiences into your cinematic world, and it’s an essential skill every filmmaker should master.

The importance of making a movie trailer cannot be overstated. It’s the first impression your potential audience will have of your film, and often, it’s the deciding factor in whether they’ll choose to watch your creation. In a world flooded with content, a compelling movie trailer is your secret weapon, a teaser that can make or break your film’s success.

As you embark on your journey to master the art of making a movie trailer, we’re here to be your guiding light. This blog post is your friendly companion on this creative adventure. We’ll walk you through the dos and don’ts, share valuable insights, and provide practical tips that will help you create movie trailers that resonate with your audience.

The Do’s of Making a Movie Trailer

Now that we’ve set the stage, it’s time to dive into the essential dos of crafting an attention-grabbing movie trailer. These are the elements that will make your trailer stand out and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Start with a Strong Hook

A shot from the movie trailer for "Logan".

Picture this: You’re at the movies, the lights dim, and the screen comes to life. What’s the first thing you see and hear? The opening moments of a movie trailer are your golden opportunity to captivate your viewers. To succeed in making a movie trailer that excels, you need an irresistible hook. The trailer for “Logan” did a great job of enticing its viewers, leaving people wondering what will happen in the movie.

In those first few seconds, consider using captivating opening shots that instantly transport your audience into the world of your film. Think about how you can use attention-grabbing music that sets the mood and piques curiosity. Your aim here is to create a powerful, immediate connection that keeps your viewers glued to the screen.

Showcase Your Film’s Unique Selling Points

Your movie trailer is essentially a highlight reel of your film’s best features, so don’t hold back. Think of it as a movie menu that entices your audience to explore the full course. To excel in making a movie trailer, focus on showcasing your film’s unique selling points.

Highlight key characters, memorable moments, and the central story elements that make your film special. Emphasize the visual aesthetics that set your movie apart, whether it’s breathtaking cinematography, cutting-edge special effects, or a unique visual style. Your trailer should leave no doubt in the viewer’s mind about why they should be excited to see your film.

Keep It Concise and Engaging

The xenomorph from the movie "Alien".

In the fast-paced world of online content, attention spans are at a premium. Your movie trailer needs to be a brief yet powerful story that leaves your audience wanting more. When making a movie trailer, remember that less is often more. The trailer for “Alien” is a prime example of that.

Optimal trailer length typically falls in the 2 to 2.5-minute range. Use this time wisely by employing effective editing techniques to keep the pace engaging. Create a rhythm that builds anticipation and keeps the viewer hooked from start to finish. By the end of your trailer, your audience should be eager to see the entire film.

Create Emotional Impact

One of the most effective ways to succeed in making a movie trailer is by tapping into the viewer’s emotions. People remember how a movie makes them feel, so ensure your trailer delivers a punch of emotion that resonates.

Elicit various emotions, from excitement and intrigue to empathy and even fear, depending on your film’s genre. A well-crafted trailer should balance action-packed sequences with emotional and dramatic moments. Engage your audience on an emotional level, and they’ll be more likely to remember and recommend your film.

If you keep these “dos” in mind, you’ll help to make your movie trailer powerful and memorable, maintaining the optimal mixture of showing the viewers what your film is all about while also keeping things tight and concise.

The Don’ts of Making a Movie Trailer

While knowing what to do is crucial, understanding what to avoid when making a movie trailer is equally important. Steering clear of common pitfalls will help you create a trailer that captivates and engages without leaving a bitter aftertaste.

Avoid Spoilers

The main character from "Sing" as seen in the movie trailer.

Imagine going to a restaurant, and just as the waiter brings out a mouthwatering dish, they tell you exactly how it ends. Not appetizing, right? Well, the same applies to movie trailers. Avoid revealing critical plot twists or giving away too much of your story. The trailer for “Sing” broke this rule and garnered some hate as a result.

Maintaining a sense of mystery and intrigue in your trailer is vital. Give your audience a taste of what’s to come, but don’t serve up the entire meal. Find the delicate balance between teasing your viewers with exciting moments and preserving the surprise for the full cinematic experience.

Steer Clear of Misleading Marketing

Honesty is the best policy when making a movie trailer. While it’s tempting to make your film seem like the next big blockbuster, misrepresenting your movie’s content can lead to disappointment and negative reviews.

Set realistic expectations for your audience. Your trailer should provide an accurate portrayal of your film’s genre, tone, and themes. Deceptive marketing may lead to a larger initial audience but can result in disillusioned viewers and long-term damage to your reputation.

Don’t Overdo It

In the quest for creating an impressive movie trailer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overloading it with information and visual effects. While you want to showcase your film’s best aspects, more isn’t always better.

Resist the urge to cram every exciting scene into your trailer. Instead, focus on the most compelling elements that will leave a lasting impact. Avoid overusing special effects to the point where they overshadow the heart of your story. Keep it simple, concise, and engaging, ensuring that your trailer leaves a memorable impression without overwhelming your audience.

By keeping these “don’ts” in mind, you’ll ensure that your movie trailer is both enticing and authentic, striking the right balance between grabbing your audience’s attention and preserving the magic of your film.

Tips for Trailer Editing and Post-Production

A man working with video editing software.

Once you’ve captured your captivating footage, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the editing room. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your trailer during the post-production phase.

Soundtrack Selection and Sound Design

In the world of movie trailers, sound is a powerful storytelling tool. The right soundtrack can elevate your trailer to new heights, setting the tone and evoking emotions that words and visuals alone can’t achieve. When making a movie trailer, invest time in choosing the perfect music.

Consider the mood you want to convey and the emotions you aim to trigger. Whether it’s a haunting melody, a heart-pounding rhythm, or a soul-stirring symphony, your soundtrack should complement the visuals and enhance the viewing experience. Pay attention to sound design as well; crisp, immersive audio can significantly impact your trailer’s overall impact.

Sequencing and Pacing

The sequence of shots in your trailer and the overall pacing are like the choreography of a dance. To excel in making a movie trailer, you need a rhythm that keeps your audience engaged and wanting more.

Create a story within your trailer, one that builds tension and anticipation. Begin with an attention-grabbing opening, progress through peaks of excitement, and end with a satisfying resolution or cliffhanger. Effective transitions are your allies here, helping connect different scenes seamlessly and maintaining the flow.

Test and Gather Feedback

Don’t operate in a vacuum when making a movie trailer. As you edit and refine your trailer, it’s essential to gather feedback from trusted sources. Your friends and colleagues can provide valuable insights and fresh perspectives that can lead to improvements.

Screen your trailer to a test audience and listen to their reactions. Did they feel the intended emotions? Were there any confusing or dull moments? Use this feedback to iterate and enhance your trailer. Testing ensures that your trailer resonates with its target audience and is as effective as possible.

By focusing on the soundtrack, pacing, and the feedback loop, you’ll take a significant step toward creating a movie trailer that not only showcases your film’s best aspects but also leaves a lasting impact on your viewers. Post-production is where the magic truly happens, so embrace the process and refine your art.

Trailer Distribution and Marketing

Various social media apps on an iPhone.

Your movie trailer is now a work of art, but it won’t achieve its full potential unless you know how to get it in front of the right eyes. Distribution and marketing are the bridge that connects your creation to its audience. Here’s how to navigate this critical aspect of making a movie trailer.

Leveraging Social Media and Online Platforms

In the digital age, the internet is your best friend when it comes to making a movie trailer a success. Utilize popular social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to showcase your trailer. Create engaging posts, teasers, and behind-the-scenes content to generate buzz and intrigue.

Remember to optimize your video titles, descriptions, and tags with relevant keywords, including making a movie trailer. This SEO strategy will help your trailer show up in search results and get discovered by interested viewers.

Engaging with Your Audience

Successful trailer distribution isn’t just about sharing your content; it’s about engaging with your audience. Respond to comments, answer questions, and create a sense of community around your film project. Building a loyal fan base can significantly impact your movie’s success.

Consider running contests or interactive campaigns to involve your audience in the journey of your film. Encourage them to share your trailer with their networks, spreading the word even further.

Now, you may wonder, “What if I don’t have a massive budget for marketing?” No worries! While creativity and authenticity can be a great way to engage with your audience and go a long way in making a movie trailer a viral sensation, you can also check out The Film Fund’s contest to help with your budget. Keep reading for more info later on!

Analyzing Trailer Performance

Once your trailer is out in the world, it’s time to start gathering data. Dive into the world of metrics and analytics to understand how your audience is responding. This data is invaluable for refining your marketing strategy and tailoring it to your viewers’ preferences.

Pay attention to metrics like view count, watch time, likes, shares, and comments. These insights will guide your future marketing efforts and help you reach a broader audience. As you continue to analyze and adapt, your trailer’s visibility and impact will increase.

Distribution and marketing are where you transform your trailer from a hidden gem into a cinematic sensation. By using the power of online platforms, actively engaging with your audience, and analyzing the data, you can ensure that your movie trailer journey reaches its peak potential.

In Conclusion

In your quest to master the art of making a movie trailer, you’ve discovered the critical elements that can transform your creation into a compelling cinematic teaser. From creating a strong hook and showcasing your film’s unique selling points to maintaining authenticity in your marketing, these key points are your recipe for success.

Remember that every great filmmaker was once an aspiring one. Making movie trailers, just like creating films, is a journey of learning and growth. Mistakes are part of the process, and they can be your best teachers. Be patient, stay passionate, and keep honing your skills.

Also, remember that a movie trailer is not just a promotional tool; it’s a piece of art. It’s a condensed version of your film, a snapshot of the magic you’ve created. Approach it with the same care, creativity, and dedication that you pour into your actual movie. Let your trailer be a tantalizing promise of the cinematic experience to come.
Lastly, we’d like to let you know that you can give your short film production a jump start through our film funding contest! By entering the contest, you can win up to $10,000 in funding for your short narrative or documentary. Simply send us a single sentence explaining the premise of your short film along with what you need the funding for. Head on over to our sign-up page to learn more!