BSA306: Styles of Trailers

Once the idea of using the voice over in the trailer became outdated, trailer producers began looking for more interesting ways to promote films. No, this was not a new thing. Hitchcock put a lot of effort into marketing Psycho, creating a trailer that was six minutes long which took the audience on a journey through the Bate’s house and the plot of the film. He then ensured that cinemas enforced the rule of not letting audience members into the cinema late, demanding that they must see the film in it’s entirety. [1] In more recent times, it has become more popular to release unique and interesting trailers. This is to ensure that they stand out from other trailers and that the audience remember your trailer and want to watch the film, because what do studios want more than anything? To make money. And, in order to actually make any money, people need to see the film, but to see the film they need to be interested during the marketing campaign, hence the need for a “stand out” trailer.

I have realised that there are three distinct style of trailers out there; the traditional trailer, the teaser trailer and the sneak peek trailer.

The traditional trailer: This kind of trailer is basically what I mentioned in a previous post. It allows the characters to tell parts of their own story rather than the third party of the voice over. This is more or less what is known as the “theatrical trailer”. The theatrical trailer mimics the actual feature in the sense that it tells parts of the story in the way that the story is told within the film. For example, if the story is narrated by a character, seen or unseen, so will the trailer be. Likewise, if the audience is led on journey by the characters, as if we were flies on the wall witnessing everything take place, the trailer will play out in a similar fashion. This is how the majority of trailers are presented to us and this is what the audience is most familiar with. The challenge for the filmmaker or trailer producer with the style of trailer is to make it stand out from other trailers made in the same style. Often the tools used to make these trailers stand out from the crowd are visually stunning shots, amazing special effects and the funniest jokes.

(See below for examples)


The teaser trailer:  The teaser trailer is not dissimilar from the theatrical trailer. However, there seems to be more freedom in how these are presented. The major differences between a teaser trailer and a theatrical trailer is the length – the teaser is generally shorter – and the amount of dialogue used. Teaser trailers will often simply introduce the film, it’s plot, the mood and it’s characters. In other words, it teases the films I have mentioned the trailer for Broadchurch before, but I will mention it again as I feel it is a great example of how a teaser trailer can be incredibly effective in setting up for a story and being memorable for being a little different which, as previously discussed, is really what the studios are aiming for.

The sneak peek trailer: Another effective and unique approach to trailers is the sneak peek. This will often be a scene taken from somewhere near the beginning of the film that clearly sets up for the rest of the story. Most times, these kinds of trailers are marketed as teasers and will usually be made for a film with a preexisting following as the audience will be aware of the general plot.

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