Saturday, December 22, 2012

The story behind 'the CULL' book trailer


Finally it's here!

Although the novel has been out in the wild for a couple of weeks now, as every writer knows, there's a huge list of ‘other stuff’ that suddenly acquires PRIORITY status as soon as the last words of the tale are written.

One of these is the promotional video book trailer.

I had decided to go about this in a far more professional manner this time. I searched high and low looking for someone who would generate a great, no, outstanding trailer for this novel. Surprisingly, despite visiting hundreds of trailer-producer webs, I wasn’t getting anywhere. When you come away from viewing trailers with the feeling you could have done better yourself, that’s not a good sign. Then there were to Over-The-Top efforts that looked more like Hollywood s/fx extravaganzas than promo trailers.

I knew what I wanted…

The professional feel of the Hollywood Blockbuster without the message being lost in the special effects. Remember, the objective of a good trailer is to help sell books, not drive you to the movies.

I don’t believe in coincidences!

Never have.

What unseen power may be at work behind the scenes, helping us resolve our problems at critical moments, I honestly do not know.

What I do know is that if we spent more time being aware of our surroundings, then answers abound. They are there – if you just take the time to listen and observe.

The production of the trailer was no exception.

I received an unexpected phone call from a friend I’d not seen in a few years. He used to be in upper management at a Casino and we became friends when he asked me to provide some personal defence training for himself and a select group of his colleagues as a contingency measure. He knew I take a very pragmatic approach to what I teach and was so astounded at the results, he asked me to train him in more advanced stuff (such as the use of everyday objects – ice cube, newspaper, car seatbelts and a long etc, you know, the usual stuff – as defensive weapons when shove came to push!). His job then took him away from the area and our contact was limited to occasional phone calls and even more sporadic meetings for coffee.

The call was for one of the latter – yes, girls, you aren’t the only ones who meet to catch up with your friends – SPOILER AHEAD  - we Rambo types do it as well; except, if we tell you about about it, we have to kill you!

We chatted for a while: him about his projects using Intelligence analysis techniques applied to tourism; me about the latest novel (these things are all consuming, as any writer will tell you). I helped him with a few pointers from bygone days, and he in turn put me in touch with doopfilms.

My first encounter was charged with enthusiasm. Although the people at doopfilms.com are only just starting with Book Trailers, they have a twenty-year plus backstory with professional video and film productions. Their determination to set a standard in book trailer production was evidenced, first, by the fact they had created a separate company dedicated to this (doopfilms.com) and then by the boundless passion I heard from the CEO about their future plans and interest in producing a trailer for ‘the CULL’. As an example of their ‘can-do’ attitude, they asked me for a couple of copies of the paperback to use in the video, but Amazon hadn’t come through yet; they’re still in the (Christmas) post somewhere. No problem, they said, we’ll make one!

Please don't laugh - I'm a writer not a graphic designer!
They will handle requests in all sorts of formats. In my case, as I am a non-starter as a graphic designer, I told them, during a long phone call, what I was thinking regarding the concept of the trailer for this novel. That weekend I dug out, and dusted off, my state-of-the-art graphic design program (Photodraw 2000) and whipped up a (sort of) storyboard. I sent this to them and heard by return mail that they had already been filming stuff to try out the ideas I had told them earlier – what sounds good verbally, may not be as visual as you need. They emailed me some scenes and I was hooked!

A couple of days later, a text message – we have finished the filming! Next day, I receive a link and a password to check out the ‘draft’ trailer on Vimeo. I thought it was perfect – they still wanted to do more work.

They had my book even before I did!
Next morning, a new version – their attention to detail is amazing – they had modified, retouched, re-synced a load of things I hadn’t even spotted in the ‘draft’. The resultant file was large – over 60 Mb – but thanks to the Cloud, I soon had it sitting on my computer. From there it went to YouTube and my blog, as well as a few other select destinations.

They tell me they had so much fun doing this (must have been all that fake blood – at least I hope it was fake – they didn’t emulate one of my vampires from ‘the CULL’, did they?) they are in the process of producing a ‘Making of’ video to place on their web when it goes public in a few days.

Incidentally, now everyone can SEE why I insist in writing 'the CULL' as I do... it's a primitive syringe!

My conclusion and a recommendation: if you are a writer who only wants the best for your promo materials, send them an e-mail (hello@doopfilms.com) and tell them what you are thinking.

Coordinating the soundtrack with the blood drops
I will be using them again, in fact, we have already spoken about my next project, ‘Leaving Shadows’, to give them time to figure out how to recreate lightning visually in the studio.

The photos in this post are screenshots from their ‘Making of’ which they have kindly supplied. Looking forward to seeing the whole video shortly.

I'm really please with having added doopfilms to my support professionals. With others, such as SiteGround.com whose superb service has given me 100% uptime for my web this year, they take away a major portion of the ancilliary worries, leaving me to get on with what I like to do best: write thriller novels.

Season's Greetings to you all.

May the New Year bring you all you wish for!

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