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

A Crossroad Remembered

This weekend, Pip and I took off for a Valentine’s Day weekend. Instead of getting our lovey-dovey on today, we dropped off the Boom with grandparents, and enjoyed a quiet pre-Valentine’s Day weekend in Staunton, Virginia. If you are not familiar with Staunton, this is truly one of the crown jewels of Virginia’s crown. It is a fantastic town nestled within the Shenandoah Valley, just about 20-30 minutes away from my alma mater, James Madison University. Why I chose Staunton as our getaway weekend, though, wasn’t for its historic architecture, quiet setting, or quaint downtown shops. It was for The American Shakespeare Center.

You probably don’t think “Staunton, Virginia” when you think of William Shakespeare, but you should. The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) is located in downtown Staunton, and they manage the Blackfriars, the world’s only reproduction of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. This weekend, the ASC was putting on The Comedy of Errors, a show that holds a very special place for me. As Pip had never seen a production of Comedy nor a show at the Blackfriars, I thought this would be a great opportunity. Better still, the Frederick House offered a Shakespeare Package that included tickets and a backstage tour. As you can see by the photos (click on them to view in full), the Blackfriars is gorgeous, and how you see the stage—even with the lights up—is how the ASC does Shakespeare. The show itself was tremendous, and Pip and I are still talking about it. The actors (including an old friend from JMU who is still performing with the company, I am proud to say) gave high energy with every line and every comic moment, making the less-than-two-hours traffic fly by. So yeah, when you think of Shakespeare, you should also think of Staunton, and you should make it a priority to catch a show here. It was a terrific choice Pip and I made, and we’re heading back to Staunton in May. (More on that trip to come…)

What I didn’t expect from this trip to the Blackfriars was a memory from the past, back when I was a professional actor and facing a tough call. Continue reading