The widespread belief that a film-adaptation of a novel somehow degrades the source material has been around as long as film adaptations themselves. Writing a novel is such a solitary act, that it’s understandable to be wary of anyone else getting their hands on a story that comes from such a personal place.
Common complaints that arise:
* Film adaptations don’t play out the way a reader pictured in their head.
* People won’t read the book if there is a movie
* Visual mediums can’t fully capture the essence of the book.
These beliefs have been transferred to the book trailer, particularly the more cinematic book trailers of recent years. Some people view cinematic book trailers and film adaptations as synonymous, but they forget that book trailers have their priorities in a very different place than the big-budget studio-system novel-to-film releases.
First off, book trailers are almost always made by filmmakers working directly with the authors and publishers who commission them, or are produced by fans of the author’s work simply because they loved the story. Because of the direct-collaboration occurring, many fears of misrepresentation can be dealt with by simply communicating effectively during the initial planning process for the trailer.
Book Trailers are made with the intent to spur interest about the book in question, not to draw attention away from it. No one is going to watch a two minute video clip condensed from a novel, enjoy it, and not investigate the novel, in much the same way that no one has ever satisfied their urge to watch a movie by just watching the movie’s trailer.
When interviewed, John Lyde at the book trailer company Mainstay Productions offered his advice on how to make a book trailer that doesn’t give too much away:
“I think the biggest trick is to still allow readers their own vision of the characters and feel of the book without being tainted by what is in the book trailer.”
Julien Deka, one part of the filmmaking duo The Deka Brothers, elaborated on the importance of “needing to keep [the book trailer] abstract enough, because we don’t want to stick images too deep in the viewer’s mind about the story.” Filmmakers like Julien Deka understand that “the whole pleasure of reading a book is the way you envision and imagine it.” Do you fear for the sanctity of literature with such filmmakers at the forefront of the book trailer industry?
Revealing major plot points, twists, and anything about the ending of a book is certainly a no go, and there are filmmakers who will violate the readers’ trust, but they should be contextualized as standard growing pains for any burgeoning industry. They are the outliers whose practices will fall to the wayside as the publishing houses and authors begin to trust more in the expertise of professional Book Trailer Producers, like Red 14 Films.
The collaborative aspect of putting your hard-earned story in someone else’s hands can be daunting, but cross-media collaboration can add a lot of depth to a story. This is all the more reason to be discerning when selecting the filmmaker to produce your book trailer. The right person with a good visual eye can make a book live and breathe in a visual medium without competing with the source material.
Creating a trailer that is faithful to the tone of the book, entertaining to watch, while still not giving too much away is a difficult feat to accomplish, but when done right, as Ben Deka told us in his interview that “[Book Trailers] create an interesting cross media relationship between the potential reader and the author.”
There is no way that a cinematic book trailer can completely capture an entire book-length set of moments and ideas, but that isn’t the point. Approach the entire process with the mindset that this is a collaborative act, that this trailer isn’t the defining brush stroke to your book, but just another artist’s take on preexisting material in an effort to engage with new audiences. This way it becomes easier to see that instead of ruining literature, a good quality book trailer can add another level of engagement that previously didn’t exist.
Rocco Rivetti and Joshua Duggan work for Red 14 Films.