The recut trailer I chose to create is sourced from the drama-thriller I am Legend (Francis Lawrence, 2007) based off the book I Am Legend, a 1954 horror fiction novel by American writer Richard Matheson. In the original film, the plot follows the daily life of Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) in post-apocalyptic New York City. The apocalypse is the result of a virus that turns humans into vampire-zombie-like creatures who burn in the sun, live in darkness and crave human flesh. Robert and his loyal companion, Sam (German Shepherd Dog), live every day to the utmost precaution by scavenging for food, sending out radio messages in hopes of contacting other remaining humans, and working to find a cure for the disease. The audience learns in a series of flash-back dream montages that Robert is a doctor trying to prevent the disease from killing the entire human-race. He and about 2% of the rest of the world’s population are mysteriously immune to the virus. In the middle of the film, his wife and daughter are killed as they attempted to flee to Manhattan island. This haunts him every day and poses as a major internal struggle for Robert. The last part of the film introduces Anna (Alice Braga) and Ethan (Charlie Tahan) who find Robert as he’s being attacked by the vampire creatures. They help him recover both emotionally and physically before the vampires attack the residence in which they reside. In this scene, Robert gives Anna the cure (his blood) to take to a human-colony in hopes of recovering the infected. In contrast, the plot of the recut trailer is a romantic-comedy-drama that follows the same protagonist, Dr. Robert Neville. He goes about living a rather privileged, unsatisfactory life as a successful, attractive doctor living in New York City with a new family. The void he feels is a direct result from the failures he experience practicing medicine. This, in turn, leads to more unsuccessful medical practices and arguments with his wife, Anna. When it seems as if all hope is lost, he finds himself an unlikely companion: Sam, the german shepherd. Sam is able to remind Robert what the meaning of life and love really is. Robert’s relationships with work and life are mended, and he is able to be happy and in love.There are several techniques used to emphasize the plot and overall mood of the recut trailer: I am Loving.
The introduction of the trailer intends to set the tone of the film with sound and shot selection. One of the methods used to emphasize mood is music and sound. As mentioned in the comic by Jessica Abel that explores sound’s effectiveness in evoking emotions on radio, television or movies, “Sound can create an emotional tone. It can also simply create room for emotion to hit you,” (Abel, 2015 p.152). The song I chose for this trailer, Send Me On My Way (Rusted Root, 1992), invokes a sense of cheerful and dramatic emotions. The song is rhythmic and repetitive, which also influences the audience to feel cheerful and hopeful. The song starts to introduce the trailer after Robert wakes up, looking rather unsatisfied and disappointed. In the following scene, a panoramic extreme long-shot is used to, “…make the subject apart of the environment…” (Bernard Dick, 2002 p. 57). The audience now knows the setting and context of the film. The extreme long-shot is a reoccurring element used in romantic-comedies to set the environment in which the story takes place. The next part shows his perceivably happy life which cues the up-beat music and the rhythm progresses. The scenes in the beginning of the trailer are longer, which matches the slow pace of the music that eventually increases in pace where the conflict and resolution scenes are shown.
Elements that contribute to the development of the plot such as close-up shots, sound, and character-identification continue into the the middle of the trailer that depicts the conflict between Robert and his work-life balance. The sound effects emphasize the comedic and dramatic elements of the film. As the trailer progresses, Robert starts to feel emotionally distraught from his practice. The music subsides in the scene where he smashes his medical utensils on the table in his lab resulting in a loud, abrupt sound. His feelings of anger and frustration are due to his failure and allows for the audience to identify with both the character and the conflict. Another element that contributes to developing the emotions in the trailer are close-up shots that allow the audience to relate and identify with the characters. Greg Smith writes about character-identification and how the audience engages and relates to the characters based on the angle of the camera, shot selection and emotions conveyed. If the audience is able to recognize the emotions and situations of the characters, they feel more inclined to see the film after taking an interest in what the trailer presents.
In the last part of the trailer, the methods used to depict the film’s resolution include introducing the actors and showing pieces of how the film concludes without spoiling the ending. Sam is introduced as the resolution to Robert’s troubles. The scenes that show their relationship are at a much faster pace and follows the up-beat rhythm of the music. The tone changes from defeated, to hopeful. Since the focus of the film is on how Robert’s relationship with Sam changes his perspective on life, Sam’s part in the trailer acts as the catalyst to the happiness and love Robert experiences in the end. The text used to introduce the actors and their roles at the end is a trait of romantic-comedy-dramas. This text used throughout the trailer is classified as a serif font called century that invokes a slight serious tone mixed with one that is light-hearted and romantic. The introductions of the actors and their roles may spark an interest from audience members who are fans of, for example, Will Smith and his films. This also invokes emotions subjective to the audience’s perception of these actors. Some might love or hate the movie based on these biases. Trailers are meant to offer the audience a taste of the emotional and internal experience of the film.
In conclusion, it was difficult to incorporate all these elements into my trailer in attempt to invoke an emotional reaction from the audience, as well as connect them to the characters and the story. In using music and sound-effects, the audience experiences often sudden or unexpected emotional reactions. The overall mood of the film is conveyed with the appropriate music selection, which also allows for the audience to classify the film’s genre. Incorporating all of these elements was not a simple task. It was difficult to match the music with the sound track from the movie after customizing and cutting the music. After realizing I made a mistake in the earlier part of the trailer, I had to go back and both cut out the mistake in the video portion, then move the sound-track. In doing this, the music was not in-sync with my video since I edited the sound to fit each individual scene. My recommendation to future COMM 2302 students is to edit the sound after you are completely finished editing the video portion. Knowing this in advance would have saved me about two hours of productivity.