400 Pages in 2 Minutes; Trailer Talk Part 2

The goal of the Bootlicker video trailer is to convey three messages:

–       A dark secret haunts the leading contender in a historic election;

–       The novel will take readers to places TV news crews are never invited;

–       The book will be available Sept. 1 on Amazon.

Shooting took place July 28-29, but work on the project that would pack 400 pages into two minutes began months ago. My thought heading in was that creating video is simpler than ever before. That’s resulted in an avalanche of book trailers, meaning that to stand out, your piece must be exceptional.

Step one was to come up with a concept. Many ideas were rejected until the Bootlicker team agreed on a simple framework. The candidate would be rehearsing his lines just before a live debate. A thousand voters are waiting. Ike would begin and falter, alarming his campaign aide Ruthie.

What could be wrong? Ike had nailed his stump speech long ago. As he crumbles at this critical moment, the trailer will reveal disturbing images in his mind that do not match the confident words he is supposed to deliver.

What did it take to turn concept into reality? These images will give you some idea.

What is the author’s role during the taping? That will vary, depending on the skill of the director and his understanding of the story. Jeffrey Madison, who managed this shoot, made my job easy, assembling a first-rate crew to man the cameras and control booth, and directing the actors (Jeff Blount as Ike, Alli March as Ruthie).

Madison oversaw everything from intriguing camera angles to ensuring the actors left their clothes at the studio overnight to be sure they wore the same exact outfits on Day 2.  He made sure we had enough pencils. The start of each take began with Ruthie snapping a pencil in exasperation. By day two, there was lead everywhere. And he ensured the actors looked their best. Hot lights, for instance, make for shiny foreheads. Madison’s bag of tricks included concealer, powder, blush, mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner, lipstick, a brush and hairspray.

Such strict attention to detail left me free to step back and assess whether we were hitting our targets, suggest minor tweaks in the script or positioning of the actors, and shoot photos for the previously mentioned Pinterest board.

Mostly, it was a thrill to see the essence of Bootlicker come to life. The final work will come in post production, when all of Madison’s ingredients are baked into a fast-paced video that fires the senses and stimulates a book stampede so furious, it crashes the Amazon servers. The trailer will be posted soon on www.stevepiacente.com.

Anyone else have a similar experience or care to share an idea on book trailers?





4 Comments so far »

  1. Jack Durish said,

    Wrote on July 31, 2012 @ 1:22 am

    I feel you pain. Writing my novel, Rebels on the Mountain, was nothing compared to writing a blurb, crafting a video trailer, etc.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Thanks, Jack, I guess I’d say the effort is worth it, given that people are so busy, and we get so little time to make a pitch. If you haven’t seen the trailer for my first book, Bella,
    it’s here: http://youtu.be/D18A18VqoSM


  2. Claude Nougat said,

    Wrote on August 1, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    Just watched your Bella trailer – well done! Book trailers are something I haven’t yet gotten into – I keep telling myself i will someday, but it looks like SOOOO much work! A daunting challenge that you certainly met squarely and won! As the italians say (I live in Rome): complimenti!


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Thank you for weighing in from Rome, Claude! You’ve hit it right on the nose – the (roughly) two-minute Bella and Bootlicker trailers each required several months of intense work!
    I think it’s worth it, as a hard-hitting video makes for a powerful calling card. Please keep an eye out for the Bootlicker trailer, which should be completed sometime in the next few weeks.


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