BSA306: Genre Conventions in Trailers

Films themselves follow conventions in each genre so, as one might expect, so do trailers. This helps to set the tone for what the film will be like and for the audience to decide if they will watch it.

The action trailer: The most notable convention of the action trailer is that they are fast paced. It seems obvious to say that because who has ever heard of a slow paced action film? The word “action” insinuates movement and a fast pace so it would make sense that trailers in this genre would be cut to reflect that too. Other conventions include the chase sequence, which there are often at least two of in an action trailer, lens flares and explosions. The other thing that is key for an action trailer is a lot of dialogue. There’s generally at least five characters speaking throughout an action trailer and, most times, at least one of those characters will only have a small part in the film itself.  Please see below for the trailer for Transformers. In fact, just about any of Michael Bay’s films are a great example for this.


The drama and romance trailer:  I’ve used an example here which could be considered more of a romance, but the conventions of drama and romance films are actually very similar. To begin with, these trailers are focused on the characters and often in quite an intimate sense with lots of close up shots of the characters compared to the action trailer where the environment seems to matter just as much as the character within it. Drama and romance trailers will often use character voice over to tell the story. So, rather than a third person narrating the trailer, dialogue from within the film will guide the audience through the trailer. This will be matched with moments showing the characters speaking. Another big thing to note is the use of wide, establishing shots and the need to make every shot aesthetically pleasing. In the example below, The Light Between Oceans, every shot feels soft and romantic, it is pleasing to the eye and draws in the audience. The drama and romance trailer will often play heavily on the audience’s emotions, with an abundance of shots portraying heartfelt emotion, whether that be sadness, grief, or joy.

The comedy trailer: Even though this is not used all the time within comedy trailers, one of my favourite conventions is how the comedy trailer will begin by misguiding the audience to think it is a serious film. The Edge of Seventeen does this really well, playing on the joke long enough to make you question yourself a few times on whether or not you should laugh. Physical comedy is another big player in the conventions of the comedy trailer, but this isn’t just restricted to physical pain in a comedic sense, no, this can also be the way one is dressed or the way one looks. However one chooses to show physical comedy, you can almost guarantee it will be present to some extent in a comedy trailer. The other major conventions of the comedy trailer are witty dialogue and including the best jokes. Being a comedy you would expect those, because really what you want from a comedy is to laugh. All of these things will then be accompanied by an upbeat soundtrack to make you feel good about life.


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