Revenge of the Pants

I hate computers.  And frankly, sometimes it seems as if the feelings are mutual.  So it should come as no surprise that I was a little nervous about starting this project – after all, every aspect of this assignment hinges on the state of cooperation of a temperamental machine (…as well as the student’s level of general computer and Premiere literacy, of which I have little).  But thankfully (and surprisingly), this project went extremely smoothly for me.  I did not encounter any of the disappearing sound issues that periodically plagued my peers, and I was able to utilize the basic Premiere tools after playing around with the program for a bit.  What gave me the most trouble on this assignment was not the software, but my own “creative vision,” so to speak.

I spent a significant amount of time searching for the clips that matched my imagined

The theatrical release poster for the original movie.

scenario of the finished trailer.  I chose to remix the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (discussed here), which is a girly, lighthearted chick-flick that would be perfect to watch with your 13-year-old sister.  I wanted to make it into a suspense/drama, and I had mentally established a trailer with a slow, suspenseful beginning that transitioned into many dramatic, fast-paced scenes (with creepy music that matched the pace of each half of the trailer).  While my actual finished product fits this basic description, I think I may have held myself back to a degree by stubbornly refusing to give up the specific details that I wanted (a person running, a girl crying, etc.).  Being a chick-flick, there was a limited number of scenes that fit my dark, semi-gothic idea.  However, I tried to work with what I had, and even though the trailer is not exactly how I pictured it, I am pleased with the final result.

When setting up my scene transitions, I used the “blood in the gutter” idea discussed in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics.  To recap, the viewer takes a sequence of scenes (or pictures) that may or may not be related to each other in time, theme, etc., and creates his or her own mental “filling” in the gaps in order to have closure.  For the very beginning of my trailer, I use a medium-length scene and utilize the “aspect-to-aspect” transition by cutting to a night sky and then back to the original scene to create a dark and ominous mood.  Then I add music and use shorter clips with “scene-to-scene” transitions to create a feeling of movement and direction.  In the middle of the trailer, where I hope to create a buildup, I use slow music with “moment-to-moment” transitions in order to slow down time; then I introduce a loud, fast-paced portion of the same song paired with fast scenes and “aspect-to-aspect” transitions to create a rising feeling of panic and adrenaline.  I enjoyed playing with the relationship between music and scenes – there were some clips that definitely fit one part of the song better than others, and I feel like there was an aesthetic difference in fitting the transitions to the beat of the music as opposed to just having music and video run more or less independently.

As far as the order of the fast-paced clips goes, I tried to integrate the idea presented in the Alfred Hitchcock interview we watched in class; that the order of the clips is even more important than the content, because it creates an emotional impression in the audience.  For example, I placed a clip of one of the characters talking on the phone and crying after a clip of someone being loaded into an ambulance to suggest that a personal tragedy had just occurred.  I also ended the trailer with a clip of the main characters at a funeral to solidify the idea that this is a very high-stakes movie.  When choosing the individual clips themselves, I used ideas about symbols suggested in Danesi’s Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication.  A symbol stands for its object through an agreement in a specific context; for example, a rose is a symbol of love.  Likewise, darkness is a symbol of evil or mystery, so I tried to incorporate as many visually dark scenes into the trailer as I could.  Also, a body of water is a symbol of emotion and unconsciousness, so I added two clips featuring water (as both an overpowering entity and a dark, cold observer) to suggest that the mental state of the characters is one of chaos and darkness.  I feel that these choices contributed to the overall effect that I was trying to create in the trailer.

For music, I chose a cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Emily Browning , which was featured on the movie SuckerPunch.  The song sounds very morbid and eerie, and contains both slow, almost whispered portions as well as intense, sort of gothic-choir parts.  The song can be found here.  I was also considering the song “Secret” by The Pierces, which is featured in the show Pretty Little Liars, but I felt that “Sweet Dreams” fit better with the style of trailer I wanted to do.  Apart from music and video clips, my only other concern for the project would be that I’m not sure if the plot is entirely obvious from the trailer – or if it even needs to be.  I feel like most trailers tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but I had a lot of trouble coming up with a transition between the beginning and the dramatic end.  I would advise future students to sketch out an outline of the trailer beforehand (after re-watching the movie!) in order to get a basic idea, but I would suggest being flexible when it comes to the actual assembly of the trailer.  If something looks like it’s working but it doesn’t fit with your original design, that’s completely fine!  I would also suggest to pick a song before you start working on the video clips – I basically fit my clips to the song I wanted to do, and I think it made the process a lot easier.  Overall, this is a very fun and manageable assignment with appropriate planning and time management.

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