Friday, August 20, 2010


Welcome writer and filmmaker Jennifer Wolf (linking you here to her wonderful post about the agent experience) and author Angela Morrison . They are stopping by today to talk about the process of making the book trailer for Angela's second YA novel, SING ME TO SLEEP. Watch the trailer on YouTube here.

SWK: Describe the first conversation you had about creating this book trailer.

JEN: Angela knew that she wanted to do the opening scene from the book for her trailer from the beginning, so the initial conversations were more about where and how we would shoot the scene then what kind of a trailer she wanted. (Usually, initial conversations about trailers are more along that line.)

ANGELA: In retrospect, I think it would have been much better for me to have kept my mouth closed more and listen to Jen. She's the video expert. But I had this vision--we authors are like that--and Jen really worked hard to make my impractical vision into an effective trailer.

SWK: In what ways did you continue dialoguing during the trailer-creation process?

JEN: A lot of e-mails...Angela wrote the script and I sent back my revisions. I sent her pictures of the actresses I was considering. She acquired video from Amabile, the choir featured in SING...Amabile also recorded one of the songs that Angela had written lyrics for in the book. I used that music in the trailer... I shot the trailer and sent her the “rough draft”...we made cuts and edited. In the end we didn’t use any of the dialogue we’d recorded.

ANGELA: See what I mean? Jen was hesitant about shooting the scene in the first place. We cut and cut my overlong script and then cut some more. She kept telling me that making a video trailer is a lot like picture book writing. There is so much you don't have to say because the pictures do it. (I've told lots of PB writers who I've critiqued that!) Jen did an excellent job of shooting brief moments that conveyed exactly what I wanted.

SWK: What was the best, scariest and/or funniest moment in your journey to producing the book trailer?

JEN: My wickedly favorite part was when Angela sent me the initial script. The main character started out describing the hallway she was walking down—very book like. I got to write—Cut this, in video we can show what she’s seeing. The reason it was my “wickedly favorite” part was Angela kept putting “cut this” on my manuscript that she was helping me edit.

ANGELA: The best part for me was getting the Amabile choir involved. They are featured in the novel and it was so great to have them record "Beth's Song" for the trailer...They've released "Beth's Song" on iTunes. My composer and I donated our royalties, so all the proceeds go to the choir.

SWK:  How did you know when the trailer was finished--that you'd made it to the final cut?

JEN: It was finished when we hit our deadline! Seriously, we had set a drop-dead deadline for the trailer to be posted to a bunch of blogs so it had to be ready. And I would recommend having a drop-dead deadline. A trailer, like a book, is never really finished...There will ALWAYS be something you can edit, tweak, reshoot with any project. When you reach a point where you’re both happy with the result and feel like it conveys what you want it to, then you’re done. (How’s that for a non-committal answer.) On that note, a book trailer doesn’t come to a conclusion like a book would. It’s needs to be something that will leave the reader wanting to find out what happens next. (Jacket copy.) It is not the full story, it’s an essence, a hook, a taste.

ANGELA: ...It was so exciting when it finally all came together, and we could both say, "Yes. That's it."

SWK:  Jennifer, what are three important things authors should discuss with their trailer production team?

JEN: (1) What is the essence/feeling of the book—the music, fonts, and images in the trailer need to reflect that. You absolutely have to be on the same page on this one. (2) Is there a scene or moment in the book that sums the whole thing up? Is there a juxtaposition of scenes or dialogue that convey the story? What don’t you want to give away about the plot? (Is that more than one important thing to discuss?) and (3) Know what kind of trailer you want and what kind of trailer your production team is capable of for the price you want to pay. Watch a lot of trailers so you know what you want...Remember the trailer is one of MANY tools you have to market your book. Don’t overspend on one thing.

SWK: Angela, what advice would you give to authors as they begin the book-trailer creation process?

ANGELA: If you work with someone like Jen, trust them...I thought I knew a lot more about the process than I did. Live video is a completely different medium than stills. If you hire an expert, listen to them. If you're making your own trailer, take Jen's advice and keep it short and simple.

SWK: What should you do with your finished book trailer in terms of posting or distribution? Do you have any other tips for using your book trailer to support your marketing campaign?

JEN: Put it on your own site first, then YouTube, then blogs, blogs, blogs. Share it on FB and get your connections to re-share it.

ANGELA: I sponsored SING ME TO SLEEP giveaways for many of the bloggers who posted reviews. I asked them to post the trailer on their blogs and give contest entrants extra entries for reposting the trailer on their own sites.

SWK: Okay, now for the game show question!  You're planning a joint party to celebrate your writing and filmmaking accomplishments. What is the location? What type of food will you serve? What two favorite authors and/or filmmakers will be at the top of your guest list?

JEN: Location: a sweeping cliff mansion overlooking the ocean. We’re serving bacon-wrapped shrimp and chocolate cheesecake. Top of the guest list is Sara Dessen and Stephanie Meyer (or Cecil B. DeMile and Jane Austin if I can include dead people!)

ANGELA: What about the pool complex at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale--pools, gondolas (on their fake canal), waterfalls, cascades of scarlet bougainvillea, a classical guitarist playing in the background? Stephanie's just up the road, so she could come and endorse both our books and sign Jen up to direct her next movie. We could add dainty Tex-mex finger food and lots of fresh fruit. Oh, and (from TAKEN BY STORM) Leesie's famous apple pie smothered in hot carmel sauce. And we could invite Suzanne Collins and get her to write blurbs for us. Our books are both the next HUNGER GAMES--right Jen? No, no, no. We would have to fly in Markus Zusak from Australia. He's truly one of my favorites. And he's so cute. A gazillion more people would come.

SWK: I'd definite coming to both of your parties!  Thanks so much for stopping by, Angela & Jen!


lisa and laura said...

Ooh, I love the cover of this book. Gorgeous! And it's cool to read about writers collaborating on non-writing projects.

storyqueen said...

Wow....this sounds way more complicated that it looks!

thanks for the behinds the scenes glimpse!