The Art of Movie Trailers: How to Make a Lasting First Impression

By Sweta Patel

What’s the secret to capturing someone’s undivided attention in a flash? As a video professional, you live in a reality where your business depends on doing just that. You know you’ve got to hook your audience and put them on the edge of their seat if you want them to come back for more.


That’s why your previews and trailers should be high (no, even HIGHER) on your list of priorities. Whether you want to greet your fans or gather a new audience for your video or film, well-made trailers will work like a charm.


For an individual creator a solid preview could earn 500,000 views to their video. For an indie filmmaker it could mean having their low-budget movie stand next to Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean on iTunes.


Meet Priya

Priya Singh created the documentary: The Indian Kiss. She came to Gbox Labs to discuss her current issues with our “previews.” She believed that this one problem was hindering her entire channel.


At the time, the Gbox platform “robot” would piece together parts of the movie and combine them into a “quick view.” Since this process was not customizable, Priya and other Gbox users brought up a great point.


Priya said: “first impressions matter and I am not earning money with my video on Gbox.” We diagnosed the problem and realized the “previews” were not compelling enough for an audience to want to engage with the video.


Gbox worked with Priya to help her create a custom, engaging trailer. We gave her the power to use her creative expertise to build something that would be effective for her audience. The end product was an eye catching, heart pulling 60-second spot. She uploaded it with a thumbnail that promoted with a bang!


Suddenly Priya’s audience was intrigued and she began attracting more and more views to her video.


Our Gbox initiative is to give you every single tool you need to reach maximum potential with your videos. With that in mind, here are some points to consider as you seek to master the art of an effective trailer.




The Foundation of Your Trailer

A trailer takes the best elements from a film/video and condenses them into a fully engaging one-minute masterpiece.


When you first set out to create the trailer consider the merits from your work. Where are its greatest strengths? It’s unforgettable moments? It’s star performances? Always lead with the strengths.


Priya’s movie was a dramatic film so she decided to open her trailer with a snippet from a serious scene with followed by a few wits. Instead of having the genre lead the process she used emotion-evoking techniques. This strategy allowed her to attract more viewers as well as match their presumptions about the movie.


Priya used her film festival awards to promote her trailer and distribute it. By doing so, she targeted an audience of those who could relate to her video by reading the different accolades and the pedigree behind it.




Priya’s getting started tips:

  • Decide whether the trailer calls for a narrator
  • Consider involving a copywriter: does the film have enough intriguing dialogue to stand alone?
  • Choose the best sound and music strategy for your piece


Storytelling Elements That Matter

Now lets dive into the creative approach of your trailer. Here are Priya’s favorite elements when it comes to storytelling:


A. Start with a hook to capture immediate attention, then end with a bang! Priya says, “a great piece of dialogue can hook people really fast, then you have to amplify the effect. If it is a drama, then have it get more dramatic as the trailer progresses!”


B. Give your trailer a heart of its own. When you create a stand-alone storyline with the “rise and fall” in mind, it grounds your audience. They will want to learn more. How are you going to lead your audience in a story of ups and downs?


C. Pursue a unique angle or strategy. Imagine if you took your linear film and totally remixed it into a one-minute piece? If done artfully, you could re-invent your film and raise major curiosity. Priya says, “Sometimes all you have to do is take a single scene and recreate it in the most drastic way possible!”


D. Recognize and respect the key, defining moment. The main asset of the trailer is its defining moment. This means originality. Priya says, “the audience should never be saying, ‘I’ve seen 10 other trailers just like this one…” Repetition of the same stuff in movie trailers is an infamous topic — how will you capture fresh moments with your trailer?




The Structure of The Trailer

A great trailer is all about the rhythm. If it doesn’t flow well, it will not do well to bring in an audience. Everything piece needs to fit together like puzzle pieces. Top trailers evoke emotion, create excitement and build anticipation.


The music will set the tone and the rhythm for the entire trailer. Priya says “ I like to use suspenseful music to engage my audience.” Trailers usually have music cues that are based on the act-structure. Here is the act structure:


  • Act One: This is the introduction to the environment, surroundings and characters.
  • Act Two: Weave in complexity and create different struggles for characters to overcome.
  • Act Three: Amplify the drama/humor/conflict and make sure nothing is resolved.
  • End with a bang!




Marketing Your Trailer

The easiest way to spread the word about your film is by connecting with a group of influencers who have large audiences that will relate to your film.


Priya decided to use BuzzStream as a tool to make this process smoother. With BuzzStream she was able to quickly create dozens of valuable connections. Below is the six-step process she recommends for you as you seek powerful exposure for your trailer and movie:

  1. Upload a pre-qualified list of viewers
  2. Fill in specific keywords related to the film/video’s niche audience
  3. Select a template
  4. Receive information about relevant influencers
  5. Send out a tweet and an outreach email about your video to each influencer
  6. Remain diligent to follow up with each connection



















Never underestimate the power of a fresh moment. Trailers have the potential to make or break the success of a larger piece of work. At Gbox, we don’t take that lightly! That’s why we are so excited that our New Media Entrepreneurs are now putting their best foot forward on Gbox by uploading outstanding previews that capture their audience and increase their success.


That’s a wrap! Let us know what features you prefer in trailers in the comments below, and don’t forget to stay connected on Twitter and Facebook!

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