Today marks the two year anniversary of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary. It's feels a tad bizarre because it doesn't feel like it's been that long. I suppose the number of incidents similar to those at Newtown have continued since December 14th, making Sandy Hook less of an anomaly than it should. So it goes, I suppose.
While it is becoming more and more popular, book trailers for the internet are still something of a oddity. I'm not entirely sure if they work and help sell books (there is a lot of conflicting information about this). In addition, there doesn't seem to be a formula for book trailers that I'm comfortable with. So we decided to do it slightly different.
In 'Runaway Empire', the character Michelle collected a number of video clips from her domestic and international travels on her phone and shows them to our protagonist Jack, who's got something of a crush on the spontaneous adventurer. We thought we could do something a bit like that for the trailer, traveling to two of the locations in which the book takes places - Austin and the countryside outside of the small town of Moody, Texas. As much as we wanted to travel to the Middle East or Europe, we didn't necessarily have the budget for those kind of expenses.
In case anyone is interested, much of my family comes from the central Texas region. Until my grandmother's passing in 2013, she resided in McGregor, which is roughly fifteen miles from Moody. I was born in Temple Texas, which is about twenty miles south. I spent a good portion of my childhood in that world, which has a very unique quality I have to yet to find in suburbs or cities. Many times I miss it. So when I decided to write 'Runaway Empire', I used it as an excuse to explore that world in literary form. I have to say, it helped make this story far more personal for me, which is just the way I like it.
Similar to the character of Michelle, we captured all of our footage on an iPhone 5 and a second-generation iPod Touch. Coming from a background in cinema, I was aware of the obvious limitations faced with shooting on these devices. But after talking with Kevin Michael, we decided the trailer should closely resemble the footage Michelle would capture in the story. Images of railroad tracks on the side of the highway. A fire piercing through the midnight darkness. Little things like this. And so we spent the better part of six months capturing footage when we could. After grading, I was amazed at how much one could do with footage from the iPhone. We have definitely come a long way in a very short period of time. Shooting on iPhones also allowed a more relaxed approach to capturing shots. If there was something I felt could be used in the trailer, I just pulled out the phone and shot away. It may not be the most professional thing I've done, but that practice may become normal in twenty years or less among professionals. Stranger things have happened.
I also had the assistance of two individuals I've known since college to lend their faces and bodies. Caroline Martell and James Eastman are not actors, but they did have faces and bodies that closely resembled the characters of Jack and Michelle. We got Caroline's footage in an afternoon. The footage with James took two nights and one afternoon. When all was said and done, we had collected nearly two hours of footage. The final trailer comes out to less than two minutes. Still, I feel this is a better problem to have than not having enough footage. Here are some stills for you to look at. These images have been graded, but it still shows what you can do with iPhone footage.
Lastly, I wanted a piece of music that could really pull everything together. Being a follower of writer/director Terrence Malick, I stumbled upon a trailer for his film To the Wonder while collecting footage for our own trailer. Andy Quin's composition 'Awakening' really took me by surprise. I immediately knew we had to use his piece. So I shot him an email, one thing led to another, and 'Awakening' became our musical compliment. Very glad about that.
We juxtaposed our footage with various moments in the history of the modern United States. I was worried that it would present an excessively patriotic feeling when all was said and done, but I believe it finds a happy medium between optimism and cynicism. JUST LIKE MY SOUL!
But in all seriousness, this book trailer is not going to change the world, and I honestly don't know if it will drastically help the publicity behind the book. But it won't hurt, and it was fun to do. You always need to find the time to have fun with your work. If I couldn't do that, I'm pretty sure my head would fall off. Literally. It would just fall off.
Well here it is. Hope you enjoy. Until next time!