When I was told we would have to remix a film for the video trailer project, I was both excited and a little dismayed. I was excited because I thought that it would be fun, entertaining, and would require a great deal of creativity in our work. I was a little dismayed because I had no idea what movie I could successfully remix to reach my own high expectations of a trailer remix, as well as the daunting amount of hours I thought I would have to put into an already filled academic week. After watching the Shining remix on YouTube, I knew that my standards would have to be set decently high.
After exploring some trailer remixes of Waiting (Rob McKittrick, 2005), The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001-3), and Heavyweights (Steven Brill, 1995) on the trailer mash website, I somehow instantly decided then and there that I would have to do Marley & Me (David Frankel, 2008). I have an intense love for dogs, specifically my dog, and I can certainly relate to some of the activities Marley engages in in the film. In addition, I had the added privilege of reading the novel a few years ago (infinitely better than the film, totally recommend it). I wanted to change this sweet, comedy/tragedy into a horror film, specifically implementing the ideas of recent movies concerning exorcisms and demonic possessions. Thomas Sobchack writes in Genre Film: A Classical Experience that in genre films, “the audience seeks the solid and familiar referents of that genre” (9). He also posits that genres are formed by films that feature familiar plot formulas, stereotypical character models, and repeated symbolism and iconography. I believe that the exorcism genre has come into it’s golden age only just recently. I was able to study and reflect on the techniques used in trailers for films like The Last Exorcism (Daniel Stamm, 2010), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Scott Derrickson, 2005), and The Rite (Mikael Håfström, 2010).
As Scott McCloud writes in Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, “color can be a formidable ally for artists in any visual medium” (185). Ideally, the artist’s message will be portrayed not only by the story told, but by the visual elements the artist makes use of. In the case of my trailer, I felt that the effect of color was huge. The addition of a few coloring effects to my clips from Marley & Me changed the film from funny and happy to satisfyingly dark and rather evil. During this project, I found that the “invisible art” of the trailer remix did not rest completely in the hands of the subclips used, but rather in the whole of it: how the colors interacted with the clips, how the music interacted with the colors and the clips, and how the pacing and style and editing of the clips interacted with the music and the coloring.
Following this method of thinking, I put a lot of effort into making sure each main component of my trailer (clips, music, coloring, style) interacted favorably with one another. Bernard K. Dick writes in the Film, Space, and Image article that it is the “context that makes the shot powerful and chilling,” not necessarily the shot itself (5). He further explains that “the shot is part of the total film in which its meaning resides” (5). For these reasons I made certain editing choices that would bring together a total meaning and vibe to the trailer. Individuals clips in my trailer begin with fades from black and end with hard cuts to a black screen, resulting in an overriding feeling of continued darkness that is further reflected in the coloring style. The music, while initially happy and peaceful like the opening clips attached to it, changes to a dark and ominous trailer music from the Disturbia (D.J. Caruso, 2007) soundtrack. It begins slowly until it reaches a certain point when everything seems to become “too much,” and it explodes into a fast-paced and scary theme. The style, clips, and coloring of the trailer go hand in hand with this music.
Throughout the entire project, I encountered a few minor hiccups. My first problem came at the final stages of exporting my film. I used a video-editing program that I was very familiar with due to past experience, so I didn’t use Adobe Premier. In this program, Sony Vegas, I was not able to export my movie to FLV format. This was an easy fix for me: render it as an AVI, import the AVI into Adobe Premier, and export that to FLV. However, when I had taken care of that, I ran into a few more difficulties. My exported FLV file had chopped off the sides of my widescreen film. In order to resolve this, I re-exported under different settings and that seemed to do the trick. Right when I was about to upload my FLV file to the COMM-2302 site, I was told that it was too large in size to upload to the site. In college freakout fashion, I panicked. I envisioned having to go back to my timeline and changing the trailer remix that I was so proud of. Instead, I went back to the export screen in Adobe Premier and changed the settings to export into a “medium-quality” FLV file. This seemed to acceptably reduce the size by a few thousand kilobytes and didn’t seem to affect the video quality too noticeably.
All in all, I’m quite happy with how my project turned out. For future students, I would recommend getting started early (it seems that Adobe Premier provided a number of unforeseen difficulties). Along with that advice, I would encourage future students to pick a movie they enjoy. This is something I did not do: one of the hardest parts of my project was watching Marley & Me. It’s such a sad movie and I was basically tearing up in the library (hope nobody was looking). My last bit of advice is to really be careful with what audio bites, video clips, and music is chosen. This project really showed me that within big films, there is the potential to make tiny films that completely reverse the intended meaning of the original film. I hated to turn Marley into anything but man’s best friend, but I was forced to transform him from lovable, loyal, goofy golden Labrador into a golden Labrador that had been poisoned by the devil. It was a bit heart-breaking if I’m honest.