The most important tool I had going into this project was the structure that I observed in my recut trailer research. In observing a variety of genres recut to an inspirational and motivational one, I noticed that every trailer more or less followed the same structure in which lighthearted material is transformed into more, emotionally rich material. In the case of comedy-to-inspirational movies, an important part of this emotional transformation is the recontexualisation of comedic scenes into bittersweet and somber ones. Other notable features of this observed structure include beginning in media res of important character audio clips, using serif type to display vague and foreboding messages, and and fade transitions. Following these ideas, my recut video trailer takes the action (hardly) comedy (or lack thereof) Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (2015, Andy Fickman) and attempts to transform it into an “Oscar-worthy” movie.
One of the most important features of the inspirational recut trailer structure is the use score to create a tonal shift. Many of these trailers features a crescendo following their implementation of this score change, wherein the audio and visuals build toward a powerful climax of emotional richness. One of the ways I achieved this in my trailer was increasing the volume of the audio clips near the end of the trailer. This increase in volume is accompanied with more rapid editing, as shorter scenes are forced together with no transitions. Nearest the climax, however, are two longer scenes which work to slow the pace down in order to make the final spoken words of the trailer more impact. One of the concepts that I relied on heavily was a dynamic use of rhythm. Bernard Dick writes that rhythm refers to speed, movement and pace, noting that no great film is rhythmically uniform. In keeping with this idea, which I also observed in many of the recut trailers I viewed, I used a variety of shot lengths and varied the length of spacing between them. This is also evident in my use of text shots inter-cut with video clips: near the beginning of the trailer, text shots are longer and have longer spaces between them. The opposite is true with those toward the end of the trailer.
In the first “half” (the section of the trailer preceding the tonal shift), I also utilized more dissolves between shots. Bernard Dick writes that the meaning of dissolves is wholly dependent on their context. Because I focused the majority of my dissolves on longer scenes accompanied by somber music, dissolves in my trailer connote an emotional weight, rather than simply denoting the passage of time. Accordingly, their use at the trailer’s conclusion magnifies the emotional impact of the final words spoken. This trailer also plays with the concept of time as described by Bernard Dick. For the most part, the trailer is structured around a single sequence in the film, where protagonist Paul Blart (Kevin James) gives a motivational speech to a crowd of security personnel. Like the majority of scenes in this trailer, those used from this sequence are meant to be comical (emphasis on “meant”). By isolating the dialogue from its comedic context and dispersing it throughout the film, I was able to simulate an emotionally rich film. In isolating this audio from its visual context, I was also able to create voice-over narration. Louis Giannetti notes that voice-overs can create a “double perspective” for scenes. This is to say that narration can create a more subjective presentation of scenes. I used narration throughout my trailer to aid in the recontexualisation of “comedic” scenes. Take the second to last scene of the trailer where Paul Blart emerges from a swimming pool screaming victoriously. In my trailer, the scene’s original audio is replaced with narration regarding one of the themes of my trailer: overcoming hardship after suffering immensely. The use of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” thus seemed like an obvious choice of music for the latter half of the trailer. Having once been a scene of comic relief, where Blart survives an outrageous near-death experience, this swimming pool scene is transformed with music and narration to represent the larger themes of the trailer.
With the aid of score, narration, type, and editing, this trailer conveys the new implicit messages of the Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 film. Giannetti states that implicit messages are not direct, propagandic representations of ideas. Rather, their creation through characters and ideas is more subtle. I attempted to make the themes of the trailer, including the idea that hardship can bring about meaningful life experiences, clear through establishing Paul Blart as a likable protagonist. By offering both spatial attachment with and subjective access to this character, I tried to direct audience identification toward Paul Blart. Admittedly, one of the biggest problems with this offensively terrible is its inability to establish audience identification with its protagonist. Paul Blart is an extremely unlikable character, among other things, and the film consistency misses the mark in invoking audience’s empathy for him. Additionally, the moral decisions the character makes are usually out of line with the morality of the average audience member. As Greg Smith writes, morality is an important factor in audience identification.
Some other tricks and ideas that I used in this trailer, which I am quite proud of, are the use of movement, and the continuity. I cut many scenes around the movement of objects and characters to direct the audience’s attention. Take the cut to Blart standing by a swinging telephone cord. Here, the subtle movement of the cord with somber music helps create a sense of emotional richness. I designed many of the cuts in this trailer with the idea of continuity in mind, specifically, the way continuity is implemented in comic books. As Scout McCloud reminds us, the gaps between comic book panels allow for the reader to insert meaning, creating a logical flow between pictures. In a similar fashion, I cut scenes to mimic this idea, and further play with the concept of time. Some films make use of similar cuts to suggest a discontinuous presentation of time. For example, jump-cuts may show lapses in a character’s recollection of events on screen. Aside from this, the pure aesthetic of this editing choice seemed to create the sort of “Oscar-worthiness,” that I wanted this trailer to convey.
One of the biggest problems that I initially faced with my trailer was the audio conflict between character audio and my music tracks. I wanted to ensure that every bit of character audio and narration could be heard, so I first decided to simply adjust the volumes accordingly for scenes containing both music and character audio. Unfortunately, I discovered that this made the trailer’s audio extremely choppy, as the music volume roughly dipped in volume. Luckily, I was able to utilize audio fades to circumvent this problem. This was one of the most time-consuming portions of the project, as I adjusted each scene’s audio to focus on both clarity and the overall flow of the trailer (e.g. building toward the aforementioned crescendo).
In retrospect, the use of only two music selections may not have been the best idea, and created a disjointed between the two halves of the trailer. A use of three, seen in most of the trailers I watched, might have been a better choice. I also encountered the problem of spoiling the events of the movie. By composing scenes and narration to set up the story of the film, I gave away two important moments in the film (and in the story of the new trailer): Paul Blart’s divorce, and the death of Paul Blart’s grandma. In order to set up the plot of the movie while limiting my use of type, I sacrificed refraining from revealing important details of the movie. In my defense, though, these two events are actually revealed in the first six minutes of the actual movie. In retrospect, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 is a pretty messed up kid’s movie. Unless of course you make the case that it’s intended for low-functioning adults. Then I don’t really know what those first six minutes say.
Also I ended one of the text slides with a preposition but it wasn’t the end of a sentence so I think that’s ok.
My trailer ends with the title sequence for the original movie. I wanted to keep this because I thought it was a nice bow to wrap up the trailer. It’s a tongue-in-cheek conclusion to the trailer, and I find it absurdly brilliant. I think it’s funny to imagine the sequel to Paul Blart as a dramatic, Oscar-bait movie. This is why I didn’t use the original title in the trailer which is, “Mall Cop.” I thought that was just vague enough to sound elite. Also removing the name “Paul Blart” from the title is probably the first step in trying to get this movie nominated for an Oscar. The same goes for “2.”
For more on my love for Paul Blart, check out my first blog post!
hyperlink to blog post not included cause it’s so late right now
Also here’s a picture of me (left) and my friend (right) about to watch my Blu-Ray copy of Paul Blart Mall Cop 2. Enjoy. Sorry about my hair/face.