When you first watch Big Hero 6, it’s easy to see who is the villain and the hero. The robots, being a key feature and theme in the original movie, are regarded as tools and friends, but completely at the mercy of the person controlling them. Baymax is programmed to be a good character, but, as shown in the movie, can quickly switch sides if needed. For my re-cut trailer, I decided to do just that. In Big Villain 6, Baymax is a robot who becomes self-reliant and independent of human controllers/programmers. Instead of the personal robotic nurse it was designed to be, Baymax becomes a killer robot, intent on targeting humans. Turning this family-comedy into a horror/thriller is dependent on audience engagement, audience expectations (set by the genre) and strategic jump cuts.
Greg M. Smith, in his book What Media Classes Really Want to Discuss, explains how audiences have certain expectations for genres. On page 55, Smith argues “[Genre] shapes our narrative expectations from moment to moment.” Audiences have a different set of expectations for family-comedy films than they do for horror films. Part of this expectation is drawn from the immediate first reaction to the trailer. The music and beginning shots definitely set the tone for the rest of the trailer, and by that point the audience is already setting their expectations for the film. By starting strong with menacing music and dark establishing shots, I create a tone that the audience is more receptive toward.
Throughout the rest of the trailer, jump cuts are used during high-energy sequences. According to Bernard Dick, a jump cut is “a break in continuity that leaves a gap in the action.” Horror trailers use jump cuts to withhold key information from the audience. One reason why this is done is to entice audience members to see the movie in the theater, so they can have the full experience of the horror. In Big Villain 6, jump cuts are especially useful to send the thrilling message that this is a horror film. Cutting between Hiro and Baymax, as well as cuts between very action-heavy sequences, create a dramatic and suspenseful tone. This tone is very prominent in horror-movie trailers.
Bernard Dick also explains how, if the director uses too many jump cuts, the film can have the “continuity of a comic strip.” In all honesty, a trailer can have the continuity of a comic strip, and can be better because of it. It forces the audience to employ the “closure” strategy, which is when we take two separate images and connect them to form one idea. In Understanding Comic Strips, Scott McCloud explains, “comics panels fracture both time and space, offering a jagged, staccato rhythm of unconnected moments. But closure allows us to connect these moments and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality.” In the situation of re-cut trailers, cutting the scenes at opportune moments, like a shot of a shocked face or someone turning around very dramatically, and then allow the audience to deduce what happens next. During a movie, a character can see something that shocks them, and then the audience is shown that it is a funny joke. In a re-cut trailer, the creator can take just the shot of surprise, and then interject a menacing shot of a potential villain. The audience, using closure, immediately connects the two shots and interprets the scene in a new light.
I chose a movie with a plot that already had an antagonist, but my task was to show the audience a different story. If any other students have this problem in the future, I would definitely suggest playing with the timing of certain shots. In my specific case, there are multiple scenes of Baymax saving Hiro’s life. I learned that, using the “Reverse time” toggle on Adobe Premiere, I could play the same shot backwards. Now, when it looks like Baymax is saving Hiro, I can turn it around and make it appear like Baymax is actually the one who is threatening Hiro’s life. This little tool made playing with certain shots very fun, and I quickly realized that it should be used sparingly. Some shots simply look too disjointed when they are played backwards, and they are too distorted to use. I learned to use this practically, and only if the message is clear.