How to Create a Powerful Teaser for Your Movie Or Pilot

A trailer is an essential piece of filmmaking to help you attract audiences, get funding and distribution. It’s not just about grabbing attention; it’s about telling a complete and compelling story that hooks people into watching the feature or pilot.

Traditionally, movie trailers use a voice-over or on-screen graphics to introduce the world to the audience. You might also find a cool visual or two, a bit of stock footage and a snippet of music. It’s a standard formula that has worked for decades.

But you don’t have to be a Hollywood director to make a successful trailer. Any project with a strong story and compelling characters can benefit from a good trailer. In this article, we’ll walk through the essential steps to create a powerful teaser for your movie or pilot.

The key to making a good trailer starts with choosing the right footage. If you’re promoting a documentary or true crime film, try to capture some establishing shots of the actual locations where the story took place. Look for visual variation as well, such as varying angles, close-ups and long shots.

Once you’ve got your footage, it’s time to start cutting your trailer together. There are a variety of tools available, including the venerable iMovie from Apple and many more professional video editing programs. No matter what software you choose, there are still some fundamental principles that can be applied to help you create a powerful trailer.

A good trailer will begin with a short synopsis of the story. This helps the audience understand the tone and content of your movie without giving away any spoilers.

Next, you’ll want to introduce the main characters. This is an opportunity to create empathy and build interest in your protagonist. You can do this by showing a defining trait or action that makes the character stand out, such as a heroic act or a dangerous challenge.

The best trailers will set up a central conflict and leave the audience wanting to see how that conflict gets resolved. Some trailers will even zig where the film zags, creating mystery around the actual plot of the film.

Finally, a great trailer will end with an exciting and memorable visual. This will help the audience remember your movie and can be a powerful way to promote it when the film is out. The famous Psycho trailer, for example, ended with a soft-spoken Alfred Hitchcock leading viewers on a tour of the Bates Motel shower, followed by Vera Miles’ bloodcurdling scream. This simple but effective technique has helped drive film ticket sales for decades.