How to Make a Highly Effective Trailer (According to Herschell Gordon Lewis)

How to Make a Highly Effective Trailer (According to Herschell Gordon Lewis)

Herschell once told me over lunch how to cut an effective trailer.

It was so contrary to what I generally believed about trailers, that at first I was actually quite shocked.

But over time his reasoning sunk in.

After all, he was the exploitation master... and I was the student.

Here's what he told me:

A good trailer must feature
all the best scenes of the movie.

Film extra scenes for the trailer if you think it'll bring audiences into the theaters.


You see, I came from the school of trailer-mystery and fine-artness.

I grew up loving the films of Kubrick and P.T. Anderson.

My favorite advertising campaigns were peculiar and curious.

I'm thinking of the late night adverts for "The Ring" which had no bumper or identifier; Hitchcock's dry humor'd trailer for "The Birds"; the beautiful television spots for "Magnolia." And so on.

Beautiful things. Art things.

But what Herschell suggested is that the trailer is possibly the most important aspect of your movie.

He's suggesting the trailer, in many ways, is more important than the movie itself.

Because the sale happens at the point of ticket purchase.

Everything that happens between then and the end credits is gravy.

Of course, you want to provide the audience with an experience that will satisfy their craving for entertainment.

But ultimately, you want to magnetize the audience member up to the ticket booth... and to have them whip out their wallet with glee.

This process occurs through advertising - and most importantly, through the trailer.

A good trailer makes you say, "I want to see that movie!"

So put all your best stuff in the trailer.

And if you need to add more material to the trailer to seduce audiences - do it.

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