anatomy of a book trailer

You know how I said this blog would solely be dedicated to YA covers?

Yeah, well…Just kidding.

A few months ago I decided to approach author Daisy Whitney and ask her if she’d be interested in me creating a book trailer for her debut novel, The Mockingbirds. “No strings attached,” I said. “Not trying to suck up. I’m just excited for the novel and want to do a fun project on the side.” Daisy responded positively, and said she wanted to talk concept and look — she wanted something that both of us could stand behind, and I agreed wholeheartedly.

Originally I tinkered with the idea of stretching my After Effects legs and creating something driven by kinetic typography, or perhaps photos that were composited from 2D to 3D. I sent Daisy some samples, along with a short wedding intro video I did for some friends that was shot live-action. Daisy gave her nod to the wedding video, liking the feeling of a live-action trailer, and referred me to The Dead Tossed Waves trailer.

After sending two links of some of my other work to Little, Brown, I got the go-ahead to create a book trailer for The Mockingbirds. I was given a deadline and a few restrictions (tagline, release date, mechanical of the cover needed to be included).

I got to participate in an ARC tour of The Mockingbirds a month before the shoot, but unfortunately I didn’t have the book handy and had to rely on some excerpts I’d scribbled down. Also, I sent several info-digging emails in to Daisy. I harassed her with questions like, “What does Alex look like again?” and “At what point in the book did this excerpt happen?” and “What kind of campus background do I need to find? and “What was going through Alex’s head when this happened?”

I decided to go with an excerpt/VO-driven teaser trailer. Simple and haunting.

Here’s the final teaser trailer (watch in 720p or higher):

A breakdown of the shoot:

It was shot in 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon on the campus of a local college. It threatened to rain every minute we were there, and some drops managed to fall while we were actually shooting. My husband and I took twenty minutes scouring a small area, trying to decide where we could shoot the long walking shot. This probably was the most difficult part of the actual shoot. I carried around a brief shot list that contained some notes on certain shots to match different parts of the excerpt. We shot in all natural light with our tiny crew (me, Hubs, my sweet friend who found the talent for me, and the talent herself).

I had “Alex” bring jeans, Vans, and a hoodie for wardrobe. She brought two light-colored hoodies, so I traded her out for a black one I had brought along from my closet. She also had a recent monroe piercing and nose ring. I had her take those out, too. The monroe piercing left a scar near her lip, and as you can see below I had to paint over it in post.

I knew I wanted this trailer to have a cool-temperature look. I didn’t want something as blue as the cover art, but I wanted to keep in just a touch of warmth. A hint of magenta was a happy medium for me. (All CC was done using Colorista II in FCP)

I couldn’t have asked for more easygoing talent. Alex was was excited to be a part, as she’d never done anything like this before. She definitely got some exercise in, because every take involved her walking from point A to point B, with me prodding her along, directing her to look this way or that, flailing my arms at her for visual cues. She was a real trooper for not wanting to stab me after I kept calling things like, “Back to one!” and “Slow down!” or “Speed up!”

Right before taking the footage into the edit, I cut some quick VO at my husband’s office using his Zoom H4. I had to pitch my voice a little, and the first few takes were rough because Hubs stared at me and I couldn’t stop laughing. The music was donated to me by a talented young artist, Hudson Jones, who had the piano piece in his arsenal. I sent him a rough cut of the trailer and he gave me two options that he thought might work – “Where” grabbed me from the first few notes and made the final cut. I added in an environmental pad underneath for dramatic effect.

Eleven shots were used in this final :55 book trailer. It was a fun joy project and I definitely look forward to doing more in the future.

The video is also available on my Vimeo site.

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7 thoughts on “anatomy of a book trailer

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention anatomy of a book trailer | -- Topsy.com

  2. Bri! This comment absolutely made my day!

    The biggest struggle was finding a location — we don’t have a lot of beautiful academies around here. And I agree on that pic — wish I’d had access to one of those!

  3. oh holy shizz WIN TIMES WIN = DOUBLE WIN

    Love it, really do, i haven’t read this book nor have i read much about it, but the trailor is so stark and forboding and in your face in such a subtle scary way that it makes me think this book is about something thats sinister and dark, about things people don’t talk about outloud, things they only whisper behind cupped hands in deserted hallways. WOAH. love it.

  4. Pingback: the mockingbirds trailer on little, brown’s website |

  5. Pingback: FIVE (x 2) great covers |

  6. Pingback: ♪ i get by with a little help from my friends ♪ |

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