One of the reasons I started analyzing trailers was that other trailer-focused websites and blogs don’t. Typically, they feature trailers as occasions to talk about the feature advertised, rather than for their own merit. I’m not disputing the value and appeal of that approach, just pursuing my own interests, trusting that among the universe of trailer aficionados, some will share it.
Today, I wanted to mention, describe and recommend some sites/blogs that I’ve found to be informative, thoughtful and entertaining.
Peter DeBruge, Senior Film Editor at Daily Variety created this website while an undergraduate at U. of Texas, as his senior thesis project. Debruge calls it the only place where “reviews are the main attraction,” and while he hasn’t been able to maintain it as he might like to, (pursuing a career as a film journalist in Tinseltown is not for underachievers) there is some significant evergreen content about the industry and practice of trailer making. (Disclosure: Peter has been a guest lecturer in my courses on more than one occasion.)
Sisters Evelyn and Monica Brady and their pal Esther Bell started the Golden Trailer awards in 1999, after discovering that no “ no one was paying proper homage to the wonderful world of coming attractions.” Today, the annual Golden Trailer Awards are an industry must-attend event, with dozens of categories, entertaining celebrity hosts and an uncensored party vibe.
Check out the website for a comprehensive and updated listing of trailer boutiques and print advertising agencies who create the trailers and movie paper (posters, billboards, standees) for the industry. Since 1999, “Golden Trailer” Awards (yes, it’s a small golden trailer on a stand) have become ubiquitous signs of achievement in the industry, proudly displayed in trophy cases and on mantle-pieces around town.
Joe Dante, director of Gremlins, began his career as a trailer editor for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. In addition to his well-known love of B-movies, Dante is a trailer enthusiast, collector and compiler. His website TrailersFromHell, invites well-known movie makers/actors/industry types to deliver on-screen commentary on movie trailers, usually bad ones that they—in their best Beavis and Butthead manner—react to, riff on and slag.
The Hollywood Reporter was first in the field with an awards show for movie marketing. Their Key Art Award’s dinner is an enduring industry event. Key Art Awards led the way in recognizing achievement in film marketing and are to be seen in the display cases of most major trailer houses, alongside their Jane-come-lately counterparts, the Golden Trailer Awards.
This is hardly news to trailer fans out there, but I felt that YouTube deserved a shout out for providing the best and most accessible archive for trailer enthusiasts everywhere. I used to use DVD’s of trailers in my course. Then I discovered that YOUTUBE had every known trailer/tvspot/featurette/clip known to man. (A slight exaggeration, but not too far off.) For convenience and comprehension, this is the place to see different versions—including international and foreign language, as well as user-generated content and mashups. Trailers as a source of consumer entertainment and a subject of academic inquiry could not have happened without online access and the separation of the trailer from its original “site of consumption” in theaters. We may have lost the pleasure of collectively enjoying trailers in the dark with strangers, but oh, what we have gained!
Flavor wire has as “regular Friday feature where [they] collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little ‘judging a book by its cover,’ ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding.” Oh no, another irreverent site about movies, but this time, using trailers as a stalking horse for snarky slams. Still, going negative works—whether for motivating voters or attracting visits– and they may be right about the quality of some of these films as deduced from the trailer. Still, I believe, naively, perhaps, that’s its more interesting to understand and celebrate “artistry” and “craft” than to despise it.
Here you can learn about the history of movie trailers and Andy Kuehn, trailer pioneer and industry icon, called the “king of coming attractions” in his NYTimes Obit. This foundation financed the documentary feature on the history of audio visual movie marketing that I had the honor/privilege to research and write. If the writing on the site seems familiar, that’s because I wrote the copy.
“With over 300,000 films and television programs, and 27 million feet of newsreel footage, the UCLA Film and Television Archive is the world’s largest university-held collection of motion pictures and broadcast programming.” And, with respect to early film trailers, UCLA has the best archive in the world. Some of the collection is not yet digitized which means that some of the rarest and earliest materials can only be seen by appointment, but this site will tell you about various collections UCLA possesses and alert you to the restoration efforts currently underway. Check them out. Archivists need human interaction too.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, better known as the Oscars, houses an important collection of early motion picture advertising materials in its facilities in Los Angeles. The Margaret Herrick Library, in particular, has excellent written/documentary materials concerning the advent and development of print and audio-visual movie marketing. The Vine/Fountain location has cold storage and access by appointment.
Trailer Mash purports to showcase “User Generate0d” content in the best Mash-up tradition. Hmmmm. Some of it looks suspiciously professional, but no matter. “Amateur” movie marketing –for laughs and for the love of it– has come a long way since early trailer experiments of the second decade of the 20th century. Mash-ups are great fun, exploiting what we know about and expect from trailers in order to parody another film or films. This site is comprehensive and well organized.
 Paula Span. “Up-and-Coming Attractions; At the Box Office; Golden Trailer Awards Tout Film Previews.” The Washington Post. Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Co. 1999
movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.