In my remixed trailer project, Space Jam (Joe Pytka, 1996), a zany movie about a basketabll team starring Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny, and the Bugs Bunny entourage with the goal of defeating the Monstars, was remixed into a film called 23 about Michael Jordan’s rebound and return to glory after a derailment of his career. These two movies have similar plots, but the genre and style in which the plot unfolds varies completely. In the original, Space Jam utilizes themes characteristic of kid’s movies to appeal to its target audience such as upbeat tempos, loud, wacky sounds, and over-dramatic scenes to elicit a humorous response from young children. Turning these types of scenes into a somber yet serious movie about a driven individual proved to be more difficult than anticipated.
In What Media Classes Really Want to Discuss, Greg Smith discusses that “when events are placed within the content of a genre, they mean something different than they do in real life; they are coded and interpreted according to different rules.” This media project aimed at exploiting the expectations and underlying meanings we as a culture associate with certain genres of film and other forms of media. Sports dramas tend to contain hardship and glory, with glory unachievable without the intense dedication. It is these two qualities that give way to the biggest “codes” of sports dramas; the beat of the musical score and the shot sequence and length in relation to the music. From my perspective, the audio track laid down the foundation of the trailer, while scenes reflected the mood of the music.
Possibly the biggest aspect I paid attention to was the soundtrack in the trailer. In the original trailer, uptempo music sets the mood, whereas in typical dramatic sports movies, somber and intense music dominate. Throughout trailers, the musical backings act as a symbol conferring an underlying meaning to its visual accompaniment. As Marcel Danesi explains, “these meanings are all established by social convention or through the channel of historical tradition.” I saw during the project how the meaning of the visual changed simply by switching the backing track. Some scenes which were initially humorous became intense or somber based on the mood associated with the musical scoring. Assuming a different culture, these musical choices may not make any sense, but in American culture, deeper and longer beats, along with a piano track, evoke a somber mood, and in many cases, hip-hop elicits an intense response. As discussed in class, often hip-hop music with consistent a consistent beat and rhythm can induce a flow state which is often useful in training, providing a key musical component in the conventional training montage. In keeping with the plot of many sports dramas, these types of musical tracks were obvious candidates to display a change in genre.
In terms of editing and sequencing shots, scenes were, for the most part, kept in the order seen in the original movie. As many trailers do, I intended to have the trailer act as a miniature movie, revealing plot and character development as the trailer progressed. As Bernard Dick explains, “continuity editing preserves the illusion of an ongoing narrative.” Sports dramas commonly practice ongoing narratives throughout the trailer so presenting an ongoing narrative became necessary to creating a genre change. To create this continuity illusion, I utilized most the principles of rhythm and tone in the effort to change genres. The trailer begins with slow music with shots spaced out on beat with the rhythm of the music to evoke a somber mood. Additionally, these shots tend to be darker than other shots in an attempt to further the somber mood. The shot sequences then become a bit longer, with no break in between them, yet the beat of the music stays similar. Here the tone becomes an issue because it became very difficult to find darker toned scenes in a humorous kids movie. I had to work with the little I could find. However, the beat picks up with a hip-hop beat, and the rhythm of scenes intensifies as the shots switch rapidly. Then the rhythm switches once again to longer shots and slower music. I tried to mirror the tone and rhythm of typical sports drama trailers. However, this proved difficult because, as stated earlier, the original movie lacked many of the somber, serious scenes present in all sports dramas.
This project definitely proved challenging. I figured that changing a sports comedy into a sports drama would be easier than it was, but the difficulty may be mostly in part to the difference in cartoon and reality films (or as Daffy Duck would put it, “3-D land.”) Being the zany cartoon that Looney Tunes is, there were nearly no somber parts throughout the film, yet those somber scenes at the protagonist’s low point truly define drama. Audio also proved difficult, as nearly all scenes contained some sort of wacky sound effects, again, thanks to the Looney Tunes squad. My advice to future students would be to fully understand both the current genre and the target genre to create a clean, consistent remixed trailer.