“I HATE YOUR TRAILER!”… so said one urbane wit after watched our ‘Gafftacular’ trailer on Youtube. It’s not the first time we have fielded such a complaint. In fact, it is a refrain we hear with worrying regularity nowadays. Other gems include - 'Your trailer didn't show us anything'. 'It's all special effects flashiness and no content', and the classic 'WHAT'S THE EFFECT?!?'.
I do, of course, have some sympathy with these angry voices. Modern magic products are often advertised in a fairly specific way… and the ‘flashy hollywood trailer’ is undoubtedly part of that. However, I also think this highlights a depressing trend. Not all magic commodities can be shrunk down into a piece of 4 second visual eye-candy. (Perhaps more importantly not all magic commodities SHOULD be shrunk down into a piece of 4 second eye-candy). It’s certainly pertinent to ask why a single trick release with a highly visual change might obscure the ‘moment of magic’ with a bunch of flashes, bangs and dynamic 3D text. But the same cannot be said for an advert for a 2 Disc extravaganza that includes card routines, mentalism, bespoke sleights, interviews and advice on performing on TV. (That’s James Went’s Meditations, in case you’re wondering).
The clarion call to ‘JUST SHOW ME THE DAMN EFFECT’ is both redundant and a bit ill-considered when the product clearly features numerous effects, and other content that isn’t even a trick. It speaks to me of impatience.
A trailer is a way of communicating what you’ll get for your money if you buy a product. I get that. But on multi-effect DVDs that means us trying to highlight the breadth and scale of the material. We can’t just run together all twelve performances from a DVD as a trailer! Our goal when constructing trailers is to quickly and efficiently explain all the varying content on our releases and to point out who it might appeal to. We try to draw attention to the skill level required, the practicality of the effects and the formats the product is available in. It’s often a lot to squeeze in.
And one of the things that upsets me most, is that for our multi-effect DVDs we always complement our ‘flashy’ trailers with videos of full performances. Yet people seem to ignore that. They watch the 45 second ‘highlights’ trailer… condemn it for it’s brash emptiness and then stomp off in a self-righteous fury before checking out the two complete performances we ALSO provided?!?
I’m not saying that we always get it right. I know we don’t. It’s something we struggle with on EVERY trailer we do. Our trailers take me a LOOOOONG, long time. I really do think about them. We are always trying to hit the balance for the right amount of information for the maximum amount of people. Yet we live in a world where increasingly people demand that if THEIR individual needs are not met, then you have screwed up.
I spoke with one guy at the Blackpool Convention who informed me (rather rigorously) that I should look at approaching BBM trailers differently. ‘Only uncut performances’ he said. ‘No titles or sexy graphics. No sales bulls**t. Just the straight up performance of the trick. The end’.
I explained that we had not really followed the trend for only releasing single trick products, and that, as such, we needed to present a lot more information in a trailer.
‘No, no, no’ he said. ‘Split all your projects up and release each trick separately’.
As much as I appreciated him sharing his thoughts I came away a little bemused. I should change the type of product, style of presentation and method of promotion of the company I had built up over 12 years because he didn’t like my trailers? Surely the better option would be him just buying magic tricks from another producer? HA!
I am sure this debate will run and run. I am as guilty as the next person of giving half my attention to the trailer for a hot, new magic product and then switching it off after 20 seconds when I couldn’t work out what the hell it was selling. But then, maybe I have also missed out on some fantastic products because of my haste.
It’s strange to think that pre-internet almost all magic was sold via printed catalogue! How the hell did everyone manage with just a few sentences of vague description and absolutely no performance visuals? It sure seems like the dark ages! HA!
Until the next time - magic on dudes & dudettes,