View Full Version : Doc Trailer Feedback?

03-18-2006, 04:11 PM
Hey guys,

This is our first feature doc, we are getting better at lighting and audio, overall it has been an awesome experience...but we are still learning!

I cut a trailer with some of our footage so far, and was hoping to get some constructive feedback! Let 'er rip...

** Link Removed **

Thanks for your feedback guys - stay tuned...will post new trailer soon.


03-18-2006, 08:31 PM
Assuming you shot 4:3 and then letterboxed, a few of the shots (mainly closer ones), I'd reframe with a little more headroom by moving the clip layer down a bit behind the mask. The color correction is uneven, a couple shots could be warmed up and a few of them are a little flat and need a bit more contrast (would've been better to do this with lighting), yet a lot of them look great. If you're going for a widescreen output, I'd be more aggressive with using the edges of the frame -- a lot of the interviews were centered or just-off, and those subjects could use a little more breathing room by pushing them more to one side. Over time, when you get more confidence, moving the camera during the interviews can add some excitement, some snap zooms or insert shots of their hands or whatnot (or cut to b-roll of these things).

Keep us posted!

03-18-2006, 09:44 PM
Thanks Flash!

Yep, we shot 4:3 -- probably will do final film out at 4:3 - I was playing around with 1.85:1 for this cut...but we knew going in that we weren't experienced enough to want to spend the cash on the anamorphic. I wasn't quite sure of the rule on interview cropping really - I did take note at Sundance at some of the docs that did have a pretty close crop of the interviewee - so I thought I'd give it a shot...but there is definitely more headroom (I shifted the last guy down because his cropped head bothered me). Is it a more accepted guideline that I should not cut off the top of one's head?

We spoke to Heavylight about the Supersize Me workflow, they went from cropped 4:3 interlaced all the way up at 1.85:1 (or maybe 16:9) - so I suppose we might have that option depending on how it looks. Probably will have to do a few film out tests if we get that far...

Haven't done any color correction yet - will probably leave that up to someone with a better eye than me! I'll try giving subjects more room to the left or right - thanks for the tip. Since most shots are one camera shots, you are right, I lack the confidence to get more close up shots of hands during interviews, although I do have some of these - just not included in the trailer...but will try to get more.


03-18-2006, 10:50 PM
I wouldn't worry much about cutting off their heads, just stick to the rule of thirds and your framing should look good at any focal length. Draw an imaginary tic-tac-toe grid over your shot and try to keep certain dominant objects of interest on those lines. In other words, the eyes hould appear right at the top 2/3 of the frame at any distance. This would apply to 4:3 or 16:9, but you'll need to compensate sometimes after applying the letterbox mask.

Those extra little b-roll shots, I usually roll tape while the subject is getting seated and doing sound check, talk to them a little "off the record" just shooting little details, pans and zooms and stuff that I can cut away to. Then I shoot conservatively during the interview. It's tough to know with different peoples' speech patterns when you can safely move the camera (like a quick snap zoom between breaths or on dramatic phrases). If you have the luxury, it's great to shoot with two-cameras side by side, one static and the other zoomed in and moving.

Alex DePew
03-18-2006, 11:54 PM
It was pretty good but I have some comments. I hope you don't mind if I critique it in a way that may come off as harsh. I'm not doing it to be mean but because when the time comes I will want honest criticism and I think it is the best way to have a stronger film/trailer. I wouldn't do this for something that I don't think has promise. Your subject matter is serious and I think the interviews looked very compelling.

I think your message need to be clearer. Is this a self help or motivational film? Is this specifically for a target market of overweight people trying to get them to excersice and be healthier? Or is this a documentary about the triumphs and attempts of overweight people and their struggles to lose weight. If it is the former I think there are only a few changes that need to be made. If it is the latter the trailer needs to be entirely reworked.

Let me know which it is and I will make the criticisms specific to the theme you are trying to achieve.

For now I will let you know the things that I didn't think worked no matter which direction you want to go.

The music is a little too much. I don't think it adds as much as it could.
The way the titles switched was odd. Maybe try to leave the first line stationary and have the second line expand.
that may change

The guy talking about the chairs gets cut off right at the top of the forehead. If possible try to avoid cropping or framing on foreheads or eyebrows(except in ECUs)

I wouldn't include the next shot. You have more powerful clips. This is one of the clips that confused me as to the message. He seems to be the person who helps the heavier people lose weight. The immediate questions that will spring into the viewers mind are "Is this an infomercial? Is this for a product this guy is selling or his gym?" His posture and appearance and the "achieve the dreams" quote juxtaposed with the first two people lead me to the aforementioned question over the target of the trailer.

The "This time." title doesn't work. What do you mean?

Take out the "It's kinda, like you know" and cut straight to the "because when we were younger..."

The "Believe again." title though it works okay could be "Believe you can." if it is for the targeted self help audience. Because you don't want to remind them that this is another attempt. You want them to start fresh.
The interview with the "just 12 weeks guy" is great. Might want to put that right after the opening shot which is also very good.

The "Find the secret and discover the truth join them." That is very preachy. You can keep the tone without the titles. Your voice should be neutral. The interviewees are the ones saying what you are through the titles but much more effectively. You will also broaden the potential people who would see this. Also even if this is a self help video the message of "discover the truth" is not clear. The truth that you should lose weight? The truth that you can do it?

I liked the final image of the guy sweating but the headphone in his ear is an eyesore. It looks like a Nike ad. And I would remove the "because you can" for the same reason as mentioned above. And fade to black sooner. You hold on the last image too long. Cut it at 2:19 or 2:20.

I hope you don't take this to hard. I really think this has potential. Otherwise why would I take the time to do this?:)

03-19-2006, 05:42 AM
Thanks Alex (and Flash again!)

Nope not too harsh! There was a reason I posted it - because I know how much potential this has - I need to ensure we do it right.

Motivational vs Self Help? It is both. Yes, I know it will be preachy for sure - to an extent...this is a topic that 3/4 of the world (probably more) is clueless about -- so we are unlocking "the secret". Here's why we are on to something with this project. If something is just motivational - it will inspire you for a short time to change your life - maybe just for a moment. If it is a self-help piece, I believe it better have motivation, or what the heck would people want to help themselves for?

(So now I'm going to sound less like a filmmaker, and more like someone who's passionate about the topic!)

Now I'm no expert, so I'm going to give you insight into might thought process in putting this initial trailer together.

- the trailer doesn't need to be 100% clear (or does it?). So the clip of Diamond Dallas Page (only some will know who he is) talking about people changing their lives - not only gets part of the message of the movie across (change your life) - but it hopefully draws interest and has some star power (he is pretty famous actually!) He brings a totally different element into the film - he is shooting an infomercial...I was there! It will let you see what goes on backstage and what this guy is about...in the end, you will see how passionate he is about helping others. To me this added element let's me tell a story without too much narrative - because in some ways DDP is going to give us lessons to be learned, as we watch him inspire the people around him. I didn't want the whole piece to be a big pity party...do you guys really think I should take him out?

- Another reason I believe in the concept - this is NOT an infomercial! Yes, we will spoof infomercials in the film...but as the words describe...we ARE trying to uncover the truth. The truth behind Atkins vs Jenny Craig vs South Beach. In some ways, we are telling a secret....the truth. So the words I chose were to try to get that across...but I guess I need to tweak a little more.

- The truth - is that Atkins works, but why it works and why it is not a long term solution....the truth is that half the diets that are coming out now are the same as diets with other names...the truth is that someone can lose 100 pounds in less than a year...maybe even 6 months. So we are giving people facts (self help), and we are also giving them hope (motivation) at the same time.

- This time. To me it is powerful - so I'll need to get more feedback on that one. If you've ever struggled to lose weight (if you haven't befor Alex, then this will explain why some of the wording is off to you). Losing weight for many people has been a lifelong struggle - year after year people make resolutions to do it - "This time" - has a dual meaning. It means that this time, you will watch these people who have struggled for 10+ years to lose weight, finally do it. But it also means, you, the viewer, will now have belief in yourself (an important factor) that this time it can be different for anyone. How? You'll have to come to the movie to find out ;)

- I left the 12 weeks guy till last to not "give away" some of the changes that these people will undergo too early...do you really think I should move it up?

- In the end, this isn't a film just for overweight people - it is a film that anyone who has ever tried a diet will be interested in...because many of us deal with weight issues. So while I know this first cut of the trailer may give that impression...it is something I need to work on.

- Headphones on the final image. My excuse...it's tough for me to get great production photos since I am the DP and the production photographer (and the editor for now). So sometimes I take what I can get! It's very possible that this image changes as we get closer, because we have a lot of subjects and a lot of opportunities to get that type of shot. However...music during exercise is something we do talk about in the film...how important it is to exercise intensity and getting through the whole workout...so it's not totally off base from my perspective!

On the surface, the film is about weight loss. In the end - it applies to everything we do -- what inspires us, what motivates us, and what drives us all to succeed. I know it's a stretch, but I'm hoping some of this translates in the final piece.

I look forward to more comments guys...it's tough to make things better when all your friends say "it's cool" -- since I can't do much with that! :)
I'll try switching some of the text a bit...some of the variation in the way these bits come on were to get a feel for things and see what worked, and what didn't. I kinda liked the moving text...but some have not who have seen it...so maybe it will need to go!

Flash -- awesome idea to shoot a lot of close ups during set up - I'm usually fiddling with audio levels at that time, but I should be rolling! Why didn't I think of that?! As you can tell...I'm no filmmaker...yet!

Thanks again guys -- your input is valuable and appreciated.


Alex DePew
03-19-2006, 09:21 PM
Okay. Now I have a much better picture of what you are tying to accomplish. That will help me tailor my responses.

You do need to make it is absolutely clear what you are trying to acheive. If you don't, you won't reach the people you need to. You don't need to give away what the film will say that will make people come away from the movie with a positive attitude and new information, but you do need to let them know that it is at least partly about "The truth behind Atkins vs Jenny Craig vs South Beach" I didn't get that that could even possible be in this movie.

I also think that if this is to be taken seriously spoofing anything would be bad form. You can outright attack infomercials if you have good reason and sound facts.

I would definitely move up the 12 week guy. He is the hook that will grab the people from the begining. I would push DDP a little further towards the end. Also, you need to put in some of what you mention below that is not represented at all. Mainly the diet comparison.

As to the titles I don't think they are necessary if you can get better snippets to let the interviewees say the same things. If you feel they are necessary I would leave one powerful one for the end and one for the begining that sets this up better. Don't be afraid to give away what it is about. Be consise and tell people you need to see this movie because....

I await a second cut. I think this movie has a lot of potential from the footage I've seen. The trailer could really do wonders in getting it to the right people.