Chris St. Pierre is a member of the 2012 jury and a professional trailer editor. He was the editor and a producer of the 2010 Grand Prize winner, Where My Heart Beats. At IMTF’s request, Chris offered a few suggestions on making effective trailers.
Trailers are a really hard medium to perfect and it takes a lot of training to understand proper pacing, getting a story across, picking good music, and making it compelling. A lot of the trailers in this year’s competition had some really good flashes of talent but might be missing an element that would keep me from giving a top score. Often there would be some compelling imagery and music and sound design, yet I’d have no idea what the movie was about. Or in contrast, some of the trailers had too much dialog.
A good trailer is like a little short film. It has a three act structure: a beginning/set up of a story/characters, an introduction of conflict, and a resolution/cliffhanger/montage.
Avoid the temptation to give more information than is necessary. Shorter trailers frequently move faster through story points and keep the audience’s attention better.