There seems to be little thought in the artistic significance in movie trailers.
They can be seen as traditional advertising, which companies often stick to, but they house many opportunities to extend the narrative and the world of the film.
In this video I explore what’s up.
Side note: my comment about ‘non-technological piece of graphic content brought to you through a technological medium’ is a tongue in cheek comment on how marketing peeps like to use descriptive words to make something seem like a bigger deal than it actually is.
Another Side note: discussion of movie trailers seems to be ‘in vogue’ at the moment, for more information about film trailers look at this video by SlashFilm
What are your favourite trailers?
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Camera Assist: Matthew Smolen
Song used: Route 101 from Audio Network
Clip information in order of appearance:
Pleasure Seekers: Film Clip Film Released: 1964
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Blazing Saddles: Best of Hedley Lamarr
Film Released: 1974
Directed by Mel Brooks
Crossbow Production, Warner Bros.
Ambience: Trailer Film Release: 2020
Directed by Anders Weberg
This film will be showed once and then deleted forever, learn about it through their site.
Cabin in the Woods: Trailer
Film Released 2012
Directed by Drew Goddard
Lionsgate, Mutant Enemy
10 Cloverfield Lane: Trailer Film Released 2016
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot, Spectrum Effects
Suicide Squad: Trailer
Film Released 2016
Directed by David Ayer
Atlas Entertainment, DC Comics, DC Entertainment
Film Released 2010
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Warner Bros. Legendary Entertainment
Maddy Rose joins us in today’s podcast about gamification and films. She is a fellow marketing communications professional and specialises in game development.
In this podcast we discuss gamification, films, what it means and how it works.
Thanks for joining us Maddy!
Gamification is when you take something that isn’t a game and give it elements that make it a game; like competition with others, rules, allowing the possibility to score points.
We’re talking about the active decision, usually from a marketing department, to produce a game that is centred around elements of the film or it’s characters.
Is that pretty much it Maddy?
Maddy: Gamification is really complicated. At its core it’s just giving anything that is not a game, game like elements. Competition or making it competitive or things like adding experiences points or levelling up. Which aren’t common in movie stuff. Basically anything you make into a competition or add elements of social interaction or interactivity.
What would be your favourite game that’s based on a film?
Maddy: I would probably say Batman: Arkham Asylum most video games make terrible movies, most movies make terrible games. Because people fail to understand the difference between the mediums. And I think what Arkham Asylum does really well is that it’s not trying to be the exact same.
Like this is not Batman, the movie/ the game. It’s not Dark Knight the game. It’s its own entity. It’s kind of based off some of the feel, especially of… I have totally forgotten who directed those movies.
Maddy: Nolan! Yes! You know, it’s based off that world. But it’s its own entity. And I think that’s what makes it effective.
So you’re saying that the best way to provide a gamification element to the world of the film is to make it its own thing. Don’t try to copy the narrative directly. Feel free to put different creative decisions in to this new platform.
Maddy: Well I think that the best way to add those elements in, whether directly through a game or just expanding the universe. So that thing already exists, there is no reason to perfectly implement that over.
That said, there are good games that are basically the movie played out. So that’s fine, there’s always room for that. And that can be interesting, but I think the best games, especially coming from movie universes, are ones that expand that. In ways that you couldn’t from just having the film by itself.
Can you give us an example of a game that has done it really badly?
Maddy: There was an X-Men game based on the movie. Which movie? I can’t remember, I think it was the second movie, which was my favourite movie. And I just remember playing it and being like… urgh I’m not super into this.
My introduction to film gamification would be, when the Lion King was released and I could never get passed the stampede. And I remember that whenever you would leave the game idle suddenly Simba would just growl out you… hearing that noise, just reminds me of failed times, killing Simba.
Maddy: Yes! I’m glad you mentioned the Lion King. It’s funny, Lion King in particular is… I’ve never played it but I’ve heard people reference it as a good example of gamification and that the thing where it is an adaptation of the movie, as opposed to its own thing. So it works, and I think that’s a really big nostalgic part of lot of people’s childhood in conjunction with the movie itself .
Where do you think gamification can go in the future?
Maddy: Things like ARGS, augmented reality games/ alternate reality games. And what they are, they’re meant to take the real world and then transpose over it another world and then you’re supposed to interact with that within the real world space. As if that is actually a thing that is taking place.
So the biggest one is Batman: Dark Knight and this one went for a year in real world time and it involves emails and real world scavenger hunts and meeting up with people around the world. Working together and they’d bake phones into cakes and send those to people and you’d get a call from the phone in real life.
Film fans aren’t really interacting in an online space as much as game fans are.
So there’s all this really cool stuff. And that’s a game and it was for a movie. And you think, this is the way marketing will go and this is the way non interactive media will go. But they don’t really exist anymore. There are elements of it and I think they are more common for video games nowadays, because there is already a good set up for them, whereas film fans aren’t really interacting in an online space as much as game fans are.
But they’re interesting and a weird mesh of marketing and media and game elements.
So you would say that gamification is best done when it’s not trying to be just what the film was, but when it’s becoming something new, but still in the world and just extending the story elements?
Maddy: Personally I think that’s what’s most effective. There are ways as a merchandising tool in making an exact replica and putting game play elements in to it is always going to sell on some level. So I guess it’s about what’s most meaningful and worthwhile and playing and making and what makes the most money. So I think there is a happy medium between them. I think they’ll do some interesting stuff in the future. We just need to keep our eyes open.
Absolutely! Anyway, thank you so much for joining me. Until next time!
For further information on gamification here is a handy little article.
With such an exciting and intriguing story, the structure of the marketing lacked an engaging narrative.
By knowing the casting while reading the book, picturing the action was easy (though I wouldn’t imagine anyone thinking Emily Blunt is ‘distasteful’). The trailer was just phenomenal, and sets up the action so well. Honourable mention to that song, Kanye West’s Heartless. GAH! Such chills – phenomenal music and film pairing.
The marketing materials the team behind the film have produced are visually amazing and engaging; there is no doubt about that. But the content they are producing for the social media profiles has been traditional and dare I say lacklustre. This film is a cinematic adaption of the book and was treated as such, there was nothing added in its rebirth as a film.
With the style of the piece, I’m surprised they weren’t more creative with the marketing. There were so many opportunities for engagement and heightening intrigue, but instead they took the traditional promotional material and provided some simple, thematic tags.
While I did discuss Magnificent Seven earlier (also starring Haley Bennett) and mentioned that they didn’t need anything outside of the trailer and traditional promotional material, the genre of that film was different, with different audiences who are less likely to seek further narrative.
Not only was The Girl on the Train a successful piece of literature but its themes of voyeurism, psychological identity crisis and addiction (amongst other things) are prominent in our cultural landscape today.
Perhaps these could have been explored further, if not directly then artistically.
If the company is expecting the film to be a success, maybe they don’t want to put the energy into further advertising. I think due to the popularity of the book and the star power behind the film, there didn’t appear to have been a need to do anything further creatively. Which is sad.
Something about the marketing process feels rushed. This review by SlashFilm suggests that some characters are ‘painted too broadly’, and I would suggest that to be the same as the marketing efforts.
I wonder if they encouraged the comparisons to Gone Girl as it was free publicity and would draw on an exisiting audience. Although it also represents the minimal capacity the greater public have with appreciating flawed female characters in popular narrative contexts highlighted in Paula Hawkins’ The Guardian and Time interviews.
I really enjoyed the book and the film but the marketing for the film almost alienated me. It was delivered as a product of the mainstream machine, painting its audience with broad brushstrokes of people who seek no further than what is put in front of them.
Did you have any strong feelings about The Girl on the Train marketing materials? Leave a comment or Get in Touch!
I had the pleasure of helping out with #CSForum16 last week and the information was extremely insightful, I naturally couldn’t help but relate everything I learned into the film industry (…I love you guys so damn much).
There were so many amazing presentations and while it provided a wealth of ideas for me in terms of Content Strategy, I feel I should focus on just one highlight for now, to make this post more user friendly…
My number one takeaway was the issues and innovations around User Experience.
There was a lot of talk about the changing consumer behaviours in the online environment. The focus must always be on the needs of the consumer and that their experience will be a satisfying one.
UX generally represents how the user engages with your content online. In terms of AX in the cinematic environment, audiences will actively seek out information about a film they are interested in.
But hold up…
If you’re unsure about what the hell content strategy, content marketing and content marketing strategy mean, check out this infographic I made for Inbound Marketing agency, Connect Labs.
The objective is to make your content effectively represent your work and/or project. In terms of UX, the person interacting with your content needs to have an easy experience in obtaining the information they seek.
If the user struggles to find information about release date/actors/venues/session times, that is a poor UX as the content strategy should help the business communicate to its audiences.
In terms of AX, I suggest you not only provide effective and informative content but you also consider that this process may affect the audience members overall experience of the film.
When does this user become an audience member? I’m suggesting that this happens as soon as they engage with your content and you must treat them as such.
Trailers, posters and sponsored content on various social media platforms are traditional Outbound methods in advertising products.
Research has shown that while Outbound and Push strategies have their place, they are outdated and at worst, ineffective. Especially for low budget and indie films that don’t have the budgets or the star power to encourage audiences to place value in the productions.
While captivating poster designs and a well crafted trailers will provide adequate advertising for your work, they are traditional methods of advertising, even when you share them on social media.
By relying only on traditional methods of marketing, you are short changing yourself, and your audiences.
That’s right baby, show me the goods! I want your creativity!
I’m going to assume you are active on social media, so you know what you want and need from your respective platforms. Do a bit of research in how to use them for business and then use your inherent uniqueness and creativity to find ways to enhance the AX for your film.
Your content is a key representative of your work and is the core element that helps your audience member through their buyer’s journey.
When you begin to understand the audience as a consumer you can begin to understand their needs within your content. When you begin to understand the consumer as an audience member, you can appreciate the creative and innovative possibilities.
What are your thoughts about content and UX/AX?
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It must be said, I’m not a fan of actors with Facebook pages. If you have done work that earns you a following outside of people you know… sure, I can respect the need for one. Otherwise you are creating an account for the sake of creating an account and there is no need.
I prefer the idea of creating a website to showcase the work you have done and then having a blog so that your following can keep up-to-date and increase your search engine optimisation (SEO). Also updating followers on your various other social media accounts is much more effective.
Unless you are a business offering products or services, having a page seems like wasted energy, especially when you consider the ever changing Facebook algorithms. You’ll only be seen by your existing networks, unless you spend money to boost your post. You don’t actually need to do that, you can boost your own SEO by being clever and creative.
I suggest you take the time to create your own website. It can be tricky and sometimes feel like you want to smash the computer, but it’s doable. It’s one of those skills that will help you maintain control of your personal branding (maybe even a skill set that will transfer to self headshot and showreel pimpage?). Once you have set up, your site maintenance is easy, as you add new credits and new media.
If you want to develop a following, the new media landscape is vast and plentiful.
Ask yourself: Anyone can set up a Facebook page and ask all their friends to follow them, what do you have to offer the world of acting?
Do you really need a Facebook page and why? How can you transfer your creative energy into your personal branding in the digital space?
To be clear, I completely respect the actor’s need for a facebook page. I felt that Will had some great points and his business account is a great example of a profile done well. I ask you as an emerging actor, to think critically about your self promotional needs.
Do you have a Facebook page that has expanded you career? Have you found other online platforms more useful?