How do you sell an unconventional movie?
Films come in all shapes and sizes. Ranging from assembly line, mass market pablum to wholly original works that appeal to a group so small they could have carpooled to the theatre together.
But when it comes time to sell them, all films have a trailer that does it's best to appeal to as broad of audience as possible. So how do you take a movie that doesn't fit in the standard genre boxes and sell without the time-honored technique of lying?
For starters here's one of my all time favorite films that most people have never heard of: Cradle Will Rock.
This is a pretty good trailer that sells a really good film. But what it's selling and what you end up getting are very different.
Cradle Will Rock is an odd film by conventional standards. It's an ensemble film with no real lead character and several different plot lines that intermingle and revolve around a central theme.
I think a movie like this takes a little more effort on the the part of the viewer than the average film, which would help explain why one person I showed it to was bored by everything in it except for Jack Black and asked to watch something else after only half an hour.
Even though it's the climax, the film's only partly about the play, and you never get that big crescendo moment like in the trailer. It's much more understated.
One a completely different tone: Here's a film I love even more: Paprika.
This one is sort of the soft sell. Surreal images, catchy music, critical acclaim. Maybe you want to watch and see what it's all about?
This second one takes a much more conventional approach and actually oversells it a little.
It does a great job of telling you the concept of the movie, even better the movie itself. And even though the music in the trailer is nowhere near the type used in the film it still communicates the basic feeling of things.
If I'd have seen a trailer for Paprika before seeing it, that's the one that would've sold me.