Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'll Be In My Trailer

Hello friends. And also hello enemies. And all those varying levels in between. In case you missed it, though I don't know how you could and still be here, we put out a new teaser trailer last week. Yes, a teaser trailer again, I know, you thought we already did that. Well, with Fantastic Films coming on board as distributor we went back to square one in the promotional department. So a theatrical trailer will be coming, but we had to tease you first. Again.

And like all the best teases, we start by removing the least revealing article of clothing.
This time it's a bit less of a tease than last time, at least. You actually get to see Oz in this one. And Kansas is real. Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the making of the trailer, because that's the kind of thing this blog is all about. I won't talk about the filming, because that process has been well documented on the blog, and you can actually watch some of it happen in our Creating Kansas web-series.

Let me preface this by saying; I did not make this alone. Drew picked up his share of shots and gave me helpful criticism on my own, Lux Angel did the fantastic score, and Michael Musson made mince meat of the sound work. But as this is my blog, as ever the focus will be on what I did, just because... I know how it got done. I did it. I was there for all of that.

We actually started on this trailer back in October of last year. I crafted an edit that was much more teasery than the final iteration, with some input from Sean and Drew. The structure was more or less the same as what's there now, except a different scene was used for the Witch at the end, something even less revealing from the character's first scene in the movie. We also hadn't filmed Kansas at that point, so it picked up right after the house was dropped by the tornado.

That teaser was close to being ready to go online when we were approached by Roxane Barbat of Fantastic Films International, LLC. Once conversations with them began, we put the brakes on the project, holding off until we knew exactly where that was going. When we reached a deal, shortly after Kansas was filmed, we started talking with executive producer Fred deWysocki about the creation of a new trailer, one he could bring with him to the Cannes Film Festival to show his potential buyers.

"We have storyboards... Can you sell them with storyboards?"
I contacted Lux about an adjustment of the score, but he was sadly unavailable for it, which made it necessary on our timetable to maintain as much of the original teaser's structure as possible. This is why the Kansas sequence, which we tagged onto the beginning, has no music over it. You may also notice if you listen for it, after the Yellow Brick Road shot the teaser score fades into a slowed down version of the score from the Wicked Witch scene we put online last summer (it's since been removed, per Fred's request). The teaser score then kicks back in after the Wicked Witch of the West says, "I have a better idea."

"I should probably take a break from terrorizing children and renovate my castle or something."
But we hashed out a cut that Fred was more or less happy with, and that preserved most of the original structure. Michael did some strong sound work that helps carry the Kansas portion, to make up for the lack of music. My job on the sound was to record the ADR with anybody we hadn't already gotten, which meant everybody who wasn't Dorothy, Boq, and the Wicked Witch of the West. Steve Lowry stopped by to record his Gart the Winkie one afternoon. I single him out solely so I can mention that getting that audio, as well as the one other line of his that ended up getting cut, took him about a half hour.

Plus he apparently almost broke the recording equipment when I left the room. This is his punishment.
Time was incredibly tight on this thing. Fred needed the trailer by May 7th at the latest in order to get it to Cannes with him on the 15th. We didn't sign contracts with them until the 8th of April, so we had just under a month to do this work. That's not just VFX, that's pitching the reworked edit to Fred with some storyboards, making those changes happen, getting the sound sorted out, AND getting all the VFX in. And the modified structure cut out nearly all the VFX shots we'd already finished for the original edit, replacing them instead with more complex, attention-grabbing shots.

You're telling me the promise of my corpse wouldn't have put asses in seats?
It all seemed very doable at the beginning. We had actual volunteer help from multiple other talented artists, it wasn't going to be just myself and Drew. That quickly fell through, as with no money to promise these other people any paying gigs that came up took precedence for them, as they should. But that meant I had to take on many more shots than I had initially assigned myself. Drew was still able to cover his five, but I had to complete mine and everybody else's, for a total of twenty. Which didn't help the time crunch on a per-shot basis.

So when you see a ropy composite in the trailer... believe me, I know. That close up of Dorothy in Kansas is barely passable, and I'm completely aware. But spending the time to get that up to the level it could be would mean another shot would pay the price. The goal quickly became to make everything look good enough, and polish the lesser ones as time allowed. Time didn't allow for much. We ended up delivering the final trailer at 10:00 PM on May 7th. In by the skin of our teeth.

"That's stupid, teeth don't even HAVE skin."
What does this mean for you? It means that with more time and assistance, the movie's going to look better than the trailer, or at least parts of it will. Some of it is probably as good as it gets on our budget level, and some of it has room to finesse. You can probably tell which is which. And if you can't... I guess all this is moot anyway, right?

I'll leave you with one final anecdote. Our frequent readers and watchers will know that we recently filmed quite a bit of Dorothy material with Carrie Minter standing in for Mariellen Kemp. The other day while Sean and I were out and about... well, that makes it sound more glamorous than it was... we were in McDonald's. I know, I'm not proud. Anyway, we ran into Carrie's mother, who said hello and told us she'd watched the trailer. And then she told us she thought it was cool, but she wasn't sure if Carrie was in it or not. So there you have it, folks, not even her own mother can tell.


  1. Oh, I see! Some aspects of the New Teaser were of a technical issue, not artistic choice. Got it! (sorry for the criticism on Youtube via comment)

    It's great when things come together like this ... and even better when they are possibly turning out BETTER than originally intended/planned!

    Good Luck and Great Work, Thanks!

    1. You're fine Sam, that Youtube comment barely counted as criticism. And we don't have a problem with that sort of thing, there's a reason we leave up even the nasty comments.

  2. I am really excited for this. . .I love that you are committed to the book.
    Congrats to you all. I hope you have the amazing success that you all deserve !