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factfile1.10 Movie Trailers


Video clips of movie trailers give a snapshot of the stars, the plotline, the style and the cinematic techniques of the full-length film. Because they act as a 'hook' to attract cinemagoers, they encapsulate and highlight many of the key features of the parent movie.

Being short, they also provide an excellent introduction to the different conventions or codes that typify such genres as horror film, action movie or documentary. When making your own video you could reference some of these ideas - and pay tribute indirectly to your favourite directors.

Although some categories overlap, the main film genres are: action/adventure, animation, comedy, crime/gangster, documentary, epic/historical drama, fantasy, horror, musical, romance (chickflick!),
sci-fi, thriller, war and western.

Movie Icons

The 'Movie trailers in focus' reference sheet covers the six main genres.

Like all good storytelling, the plot or screenplay follows certain principles: it tells the story through character and action – too much action makes the characters seem one-dimensional, while too much concentration on character can be dull. The physical action is motivated by the outward goal of the main character, or protagonist e.g. to win a competition or a war, to find a treasure, to bring a criminal to justice. But the action is often hampered by an inner character flaw that the protagonist has to recognise and overcome in order to achieve a satisfactory resolution. This creates conflict, which is the most essential element of a good story because it drives the plot forward and creates tension and suspense in the audience. The movie may also have an underlying theme, for example about the meaning of life.

Analysing a short movie trailer makes it easier for you to identify the codes that the filmmaker is using to create the narrative or storyline:

How can you use these established conventions to good effect in your own video clip?

Key terms: trailer, plot, storyline, narrative, screenplay, codes, conventions, genre, character, action,
protagonist, conflict, resolution, suspense, theme, setting, location, mise-en-scène.

pin Movie Trailers in Focus A's


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