Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Four)

And here we are — the final part of the mini-series blogpost! (See? Aren’t you glad I broke this up into segments?)

Now as I mentioned, I have saved the best tip for last; but before getting to what I believe is the most imperative thing you can do in planning out a book trailer, let’s quickly recap those previous 10 tips from Parts 1-4:

  • Know what you’re shooting. You’re shooting a book trailer, the emphasis on trailer. Not book.
  • You don’t have to understand the process, but take time to understand the process. A book trailer doesn’t just happen in your basement one weekend afternoon. There’s steps to follow and processes to adhere to.
  • For your first book trailer, keep it simple. You might want to go full-on epic for your first book trailer. Don’t. This is your first step. Think smart.
  • Set up a budget. Best way to avoid going broke.
  • Figure out ways to stretch the budget. Did I mention “avoid going broke” earlier? Yeah. I did.
  • When the trailer needs artwork, imagery, or music, make a financial investment. When it is time to spend money on your trailer, particularly in stock audio and video, do’t flinch or take shortcuts. Do it.
  • Be patient and understanding with your talent. Cast and crew. Especially if they are giving of their time and talents, roll with the challenges and make things work to the best of their abilities.
  • Make sure your cast and crew understand their responsibilities. Remember though that your trailer is the top priority, not hanging out or chilling out. That happens after the work is done.
  • Trust your editor, especially if he or she has a track record. Sometimes the toughest thing is to surrender your work to an objective party, but it also the best thing you can do in order to make it shine.
  • Never forget: It’s YOUR trailer. Don’t let others render your vision so blurry that it’s no longer yours. It’s your book’s first impression. You make the final call.

It’s all been leading up to this one key piece of advice I’ve been sitting on since Part One. You all have been patient and (for this, I am really thrilled!) attentive on what makes a good book trailer happen. Now comes the most essential thing you need to know before making that jump from the printed word to a visual medium in order to help your book sales reach a wider audience.

Are you ready? Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Two)

Two days before previewing the trailer at Balticon 46, I began a series on what has been my life for the past seven weeks: The Janus Affair book trailer. While there has already been a lot invested into this project and critics dismiss book trailers as trendy gimmicks that hardly sell books, I truly believe that it has been a worthwhile and educational ride.

The crowd reaction this weekend to the preview was payback, indeed.

But what is it about book trailers that make authors, agents, and publishers so skeptical? I got a few ideas, and a lot of those ideas came from this project, this idea that has evolved into a glimpse at a fantasy realized: Adapting a book and making a movie. Look, I know something like that is a longshot, especially having an idea of how things work in Hollywood, but it is still pretty neat to see this coming to life.

So far my own experiences between Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair have taught me a few things in making a book trailer; and in what I thought was going to be a three-part series (but is probably going to go to four), I thought I’d pass along a few ideas to keep in mind when deciding to shoot and produce your own book trailer. Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part One)

With The Avengers topping the box office for the month of May, it’s easy to forget the long road paved for Joss Whedon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this title was a real gamble for Marvel Studios as there has never been a film hyped for four years, using other films to — more or less — ride shotgun for each other, one film feeding into another to build up to this superhero epic. So with S.H.I.E.L.D. bringing it hard to the movies, it can be easy to overlook some of the previous milestones we’ve enjoyed.

If there is one guy I don’t want forgotten in this journey (apart from Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and the amazing storytellers that made all this awesome possible), it’s this guy…

Kenneth Branagh has been my hero for decades in many respects. He made Shakespeare cool. He was in his twenties an accomplished stage actor, but with films like Henry V, Hamlet, and Dead Again, he established himself as an accomplished screen actor as well. While British media found the project beneath him, Branagh made his own gamble, stepped up, and directed one of The Avengers’ cornerstone pieces — Thor. This film consequentially gave those critical haters back in Old Blighty 449.3 million reasons to suck it.

I’ll go on and say it: I have an extremely unhealthy (borderline obsessive) man crush on Kenneth Branagh. (Author Chuck Wendig coming in at a close second.) And right now, I’m getting a glimpse at what it’s like to be him.

As creepy-scary-stalker-boy as this sounds, track with me… Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XIX

Heading home…finally.

Yeah, today was rough. I’m snapping back from the weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair. It was beastly getting up there, but coming home was a snap. Because of that cluster-fuck journey through traffic hell, I’m planning an EARLY departure for Balticon.It torques me slightly that I’ve got to work Thursday night, but it’s a job. I’d rather have a minor inconvenience than unemployment, and this job’s keeping everyone sane…well, everyone but me seeing as I’ve got two ACX titles awaiting production, a book trailer nearing completion (so close…), and Blogworld NY looming in the distance. How did things get so overbooked?!

Oh yeah. Unemployment. Feast or famine, right?

So, in eight days, The Janus Affair happens. It feels completely different as Pip and I had copies of the book waiting for us at SPWF as giveaways. I have no clue if those attendees (some who knew us from both the book and the podcasts) really grasped that they were getting free copies of the book before its release but there you go. Harper Voyager, it feels, has an entirely different attitude about this title. Are their hopes up? Are they thinking this could be a breakaway title? Who knows…

We sure don’t.

What we do know is that our book trailer is closing in on completion, we got Balticon closing in fast, and I’m trying to keep everything on track. All this, and I have two books to get cracking on. (Writing, I mean…not the ACX titles…)

And technically, Summer still hasn’t even begun. Hoo-boy.

The event this weekend was good fun. Pip and I shopped and socialized. That P.J. Schnyder…what a dynamo. And this book? Yeah, I think the trailer does it justice.

You think I would have this “new book” thing down. I don’t. That fear before a launch — it never gets old.

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Stranger on a Train XVII

I should be focusing on the job. I should be a blank slate on the way to Alexandria. I should feel a sense of accomplishment from the weekend.

I think I’m obsessing over this book trailer.

It makes sense, you know? Even with the previous night Linc and I took off from editing, I was putting together some audio for it. I couldn’t find the right effect so I put it together in Soundtrack Pro. The end result was exactly what I wanted, and it was built around a basic, elementary sound.

Guess that is what makes a film, or a book, or any artistic endeavor — the details. It’s the super glue of creativity.

My in-laws are in from New Zealand. Sonic Boom is over the moon. I think Pip is far more thrilled than she’s letting on. I missed spending Sunday with them, but I had audio for ACX to record, a Tales from the Archives (this one from J.R. Blackwell) to mix, and a sound effect for the trailer. It was a productive day, but I got to make sure I make time for the family. That’s a detail that really matters.

I think I also need to make time to see The Avengers again. It was a blast. Jose Whedon already had good reason to be proud with Serenity, but he really met unrealistic expectations.

Good on ya, Joss.

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Stranger on a Train XVI

Back into the groove…

I got a blogpost in the making. You know, one not quite as off-the-cuff as this one, but it’s vitriol might even be too much for me. Then again, after reading this post from Stephen King, I’m thinking if an author’s rant is justified and witty as hell, why not?

Yeah. The Goodreads 2011 Choice Awards and giving good rants — two things I share with the King, baby.

Maybe I’ll work on that vitriolic blogpost, or get cracking on my look back on these past two weekends. I’m still thinking about them.

If you missed it, the trailer filming wrapped Sunday. Two weekends, a cast of eight, and an old Victorian house. It was quite the education and still very humbling that Brute Force Studios would open their house, their props, and their talent to us. This weekend was the Go/No Go Weekend as we needed to get the parlour scene down, or there would be no trailer.

The ladies delivered, and my cameraman worked it like a boss.

Now we get together and start editing. And while The Janus Affair trailer takes shape, Pip and I continue work on By Dawn’s Early Light. That’s Book Three for Welly and Eliza. No release date set, but high hopes indeed. Just as high as the ones I have for the trailer. I dropped in another production shot, this time featuring P.J. Schnyder. I see shots like this and I see the trailer’s potential. Of course I want the trailer to rock the world…but I also want it to blow people away because of the hard work and A-game everyone brought to this production. “Thank you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.

My headache this morning is finally subsiding. It started to recede when I started blogging about the trailer. Coincidence?

No. I don’t think so.

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Stranger on a Train XV

It’s the start to a new week, although it doesn’t feel like I ever finished last week. Immediately after Day Two of the new job, I polished up an audio chapter of Truly, Deeply Disturbed and sent that off to the review cue for the publisher. Then it was packing of the big pink travel bag; and Pip, Jett, Karina, and I mounted up and headed to Grimmoire Manor (the home of Brute Force Studios) to film a book trailer. That’s the challenge of being unemployed: You either sit on your rear waiting for things to right themselves, or you step up to projects and then suddenly find yourself juggling commitments.

Doesn’t mean I’m folding like a cheap lawn chair. I’m seeing all these projects through.

I learned something about steampunk over the weekend, something I don’t think I’ve heard a lot of people mention and maybe it should be mentioned more often: It’s a passion. Whether you are a crafter like Thomas, a model like Sarah (both of Brute Force), or writers like Pip and myself, it’s something we do (and in some instances, defend) because we love it. We have a lot of reasons why but that love is what runs our analytical engines. I am constantly blown away by the talent I meet in this genre, but those who excel at it nurture a real passion for steampunk. Sometimes, artists may not even realize they are dancing with steampunk; and that’s when what happens is less about aesthetic and more about art. Yeah, there is a deeper commitment and drive behind steampunk, and it’s inspiring.

Here’s a behind the scenes shot of our Sophia del Morte (Sarah Hunter). I got high hopes for this book trailer…

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