June 26, 2023
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Selecting a Movie Trailer House with Ignition Creative

Shaudi Bianca Vahdat
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Trailers are a key part of the marketing strategy for any film or TV show. Movie trailer production companies have a lot to do. They must communicate the tone of the piece. Give just enough plot to entice without spoiling.‌ Most importantly, they have to get audiences to care. 

All in two minutes or less!

That’s why producing trailers is an art. Finding the right movie trailer house out of the many movie trailer companies in Los Angeles (and beyond) is a process that can seem daunting. 

We’re here to break that process down with the help of an expert.

Meet Joey Carole

For the past nine years, Joey Carole worked his way up to the role of producer at full-service creative agency Ignition Creative.  

At Ignition, Joey has produced trailers and TV spots for major films and shows including Bullet Train, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and the modern trailer for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Recently, Joey and his team worked on the Season 3 teaser for the critically acclaimed Apple show Ted Lasso. This was somewhat of a special project, as the trailer production company was enlisted to help from concept through editorial.

Joey helped us break down the steps for finding and working with a movie trailer house. 

Decide your budget and vision 

In some cases, says Joey, a studio will come to movie trailer companies with a brief on their vision for how to sell the film, which includes the filmmaker’s input. However:

“Oftentimes… It's a collaboration from the start. The studio will come to us and say, ‘Look, we have this movie, we're still figuring out the best direction to take it. We could use your help exploring it.’” 

You can employ the services of your trailer production company to help you find the right angle to sell the film from. That’s part of their expertise! However, if your budget is tight, come in with a clear vision and direction. It may help reduce the number of revisions and, by extension, the cost.

Of course, creating trailers is a collaborative process. Even if you come in with a strong direction, be open to input from collaborators on how to achieve that direction.

The amount and types of spots you're looking for will affect the budget of the campaign.

One final piece to consider? A complicated plot or a film can be challenging, and therefore potentially more expensive, to market.

Selecting a Movie Trailer House for Your Film with Ignition Creative - Wrapbook - Inception
With its famously complex plot, we’re guessing Inception made a challenging and time-consuming project for its film trailer companies to develop. SOURCE
“It can certainly be difficult when you have a story that's a little bit more complex and you only have two minutes in a trailer (or when you're working on TV spots you only have 15 to 30 seconds) to explain what this movie is to people and convince them to go see it. So when you have a complex film, it may take more exploration to find the most efficient way to boil it down."

A film that’s simply not very engaging can, understandably, also be hard to market. 

“Some movies just have the goods… You might be working with a movie that has the explosions, the action, the jokes, and the stars. It's already got all the ingredients you want for a great trailer. And sometimes you get a movie that's lacking some of those ingredients and you may have to find creative ways to create an engaging piece out of it. But every project has similar challenges when you're putting those ingredients together."

The trailer Joey and his team worked on for Bullet Train is an example of a film that “had the goods."

Again, your movie trailer house will still be able to market projects that are less conventionally gripping or that have a complicated plot. But these projects may require more revisions to get just right, so you’ll want to budget accordingly. 

Review movie trailer house candidates 

Once you have your budget and vision in mind, it’s time to look for your movie trailer house. As you vet candidates, you’ll need to think through compatibility in terms of logistics, artistry, and communication. 

Consider logistics 

The vast majority of the bigger movie trailer companies are in Los Angeles. However, if you are not Los Angeles-based, or if you’d prefer to work with a company based elsewhere, that’s completely workable. 

"Most of the work with local clients is done through calls and emails… We also work with distributors around the world, and sometimes we’re on completely opposite time zones… it’s still the same process."

When working across time zones it just requires finding a time that works for everyone to connect. Joey says it’s nice to celebrate the work in person and nurture the working relationship after a project or campaign is completed. If you’re LA-based, this might be a reason to work with movie trailer companies in Los Angeles.

For most projects though, you should be able to work with a movie trailer house in another city, or even continent, if you choose to. 

Find a creative partner 

When reviewing the portfolios of movie trailer house candidates, think of them as potential artistic collaborators. 

“Trailers [are]... a piece of art. And art, as we all know, is very subjective.” 

So a trailer that’s effective for someone else may not work for you or your project. And visa versa. What’s important when narrowing down your list of candidates is that the movie trailer companies’ work should resonate with you artistically. 

Questions to consider when reviewing a trailer house’s work: 

  • Have they done an effective job of communicating the essence of the film or television show? 
  • Does the trailer tell a satisfying story within itself? 
  • Is the music and sound design compelling to you? 
  • Is the editing innovative? 
  • Does it feel like a tired retread of every trailer you’ve seen, or is it as unique and affecting as the piece of art it's selling? 
“A great trailer in my opinion is something that can stay true to the tone of the show or the movie, but is also engaging to people who may not ordinarily be interested in that type of content…”

Joey gave the example of the trailers for Barbie as executing this well. Given that Barbie is primarily a children’s toy, one might think that the film would be hard to market to adults. But,

“The Barbie trailers have been outstanding I think…You've got people of all ages… excited to see that movie."

Joey also cites the Fast & Furious film franchise as a great example of effective sound design in a trailer.

"Editors pour their heart and soul into these trailers, and one component of that is the sound design… Some content is well suited for a rhythmic use of sound effects. The Fast & Furious trailers are a good example of that. The way they use the rhythm of the sound design in cohesion with the music works really well. You have the sounds of gunshots, car levers, and pedals, all working to maintain the rhythm of the music."

Don’t worry too much about finding a movie trailer house that has a track record in genre. Some movie trailer houses do specialize, but most trailer houses employ a roster of talent with a large variety of strengths.

Remember the interpersonal aspect

Creating trailers is a highly collaborative process, so finding people you communicate well with is vital. As you begin reaching out to artistically compatible candidates, pay attention to the way they communicate with you. Make sure your communication styles are in sync.

Remember, these are people you’ll be spending long hours talking to in meetings and over email. Disagreements naturally arise during any artistic process. When they do, you’ll want to be sure you’re working with people who handle conflict productively.  

Remember to factor in the human element as you’re screening movie trailer production companies. 

Understand the collaborative process 

Be prepared to provide your movie trailer house with these assets throughout the production process: 

  • Script
  • Dailies
  • Rough cuts
  • Finished film
  • Trailer comps and notes on why you like them

If you’re engaging your trailer house after two or three cuts of the film have been edited, they’ll just use the cuts rather than the dailies. However, 

“In a perfect world we get the dailies when we start on a project before they have the first cut. And then we get the cuts as they go along.” 

Dailies give your movie trailer house much more material to pull from for the trailer. For example, if a certain angle didn’t end up in a cut but would be perfect for the trailer, they could pull it from the dailies. 

The cuts are still important to the process for film trailer companies, though. With comedies in particular, much of the tone of the piece comes from the editing. So it’s most useful for your trailer house to have a first cut to reference as well as dailies: 

"It's always best to have dailies at your disposal, but it's important to get an assembled feature cut or episode as well. The tone of a project starts to reveal itself after it's all been put together."

Animated films will have a slightly different process, since movie trailer companies typically start working on those trailers before the animation is completed. In that case, they can get started even if they only have storyboard visuals and voices to work with at the beginning of the process. 

Give great notes 

Trailer creation is highly iterative, and the notes you give as a representative of the studio makes a big impact. For the most effective process, you want to give clear, actionable notes. 

“I believe having the full context behind a note is the most helpful way to hit that note successfully. Oftentimes notes will come through an email as a list of bullet points, and understanding the reasoning behind each of those notes can help open up different solutions when revising a cut… Having a good relationship that encourages open communication is important to make sure everyone involved not only understands what they should be doing, but also why they're doing it!”

For example, says Joey, maybe you review a cut of the trailer and ask for a different ID shot for a specific character. When giving that feedback, communicate not only the request for a different shot, but also the reason behind the request. 

If your trailer house understands that you want the character to appear more heroic, they’re more likely to be able to find a replacement that will work for you. It could affect the way they treat the character in the rest of the trailer as well. This clarity will ultimately lead to fewer rounds of revisions being needed.

And remember that feedback should be a two-way conversation. 

"It definitely helps to have a lot of different people's opinions weighing in because it just makes the piece better and better as it goes along. As long as you can explore those things and be subjective about it and take a step back and ask yourselves and your clients, did this note really work? Should we try something else? And you can all be subjective and kind of look at it in that way." 

Determine your deliverables and deadlines 

During the vetting process, make sure the movie trailer house can meet your deadlines and required deliverables. 

Move trailer companies will expect you to be clear about:

  • Expected turnaround times
  • The number of revisions you’ll receive before you’ll switch to paying hourly
  • The number of trailers, teasers and spots you expect
Selecting a Movie Trailer House for Your Film with Ignition Creative - Wrapbook - Mythic Quest
A still from the Mythic Quest Season 3 teaser produced by Joey. Your movie trailer house will need to know how many trailers, teasers and total spots you’ll expect. SOURCE

In terms of the type of spots you might need, that’s very project-and-budget-specific. Some studios will aim for various target demographics and then tailor specific placements to those demographics. 

A studio film, such as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, can afford to have a highly targeted marketing campaign. Multiple placements with multiple spots targeting multiple demographics.

Selecting a Movie Trailer House for Your Film with Ignition Creative - Wrapbook - Spider-Man
Joey’s team at Ignition Creative was one of the trailer editing companies to work on the latest Spider-Man film. SOURCE

On the other hand, if you’re on a smaller budget for your project, you may want a trailer and a couple of shorter spots that will appeal to as many people as possible. 

Wrapping up 

Thank you to Joey Carole of Ignition Creative for guiding us through the process of finding the right movie trailer company! 

We hope you find the right partner for your next film out of the many incredible movie trailer companies out there. 

If you’re looking for tips on putting together the team for your next project beyond film trailer companies, check out our recent articles on working with fight coordinators and how to work with intimacy coordinators.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Shaudi Bianca Vahdat

Shaudi is a Seattle-based musician, theatre artist, writer and social media marketing specialist. She holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and the University of Washington School of Drama.

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