You are What You Eat

Trailer remixes are meant to be lighthearted and fun. However, the best trailer remixes involve using specific conventions and theories associated with specific genres. Therefore, when I transformed the raunchy animated comedy Sausage Party (Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, 2016) into the remixed horror Sausage Massacre: The Mincing, I made sure to utilize particular shot pacing, audio, and signifiers connected with the horror genre. Sausage Massacre: The Mincing portrays humans as murderous, abominable villains killing and eating food. The original animated sex comedy is turned into a serious and scary nightmare.

First, I used typography a couple times in my trailer. I used Adobe Garamond Pro as the font for my typography. Adobe Garamond Pro is a old style serif font. As Rebecca Hagen and Kim Golombisky mention in White Space is Not Your Enemy, old style fonts are “the most readable” and are best when “big and bold in headlines.” Therefore, I used this font in my trailer, so that the audience would have no difficulty reading and understanding the typography. I also intentionally chose specific colors to use in my typography. I repeatedly used red font to symbolize blood and the color of the sausages. For the most part, I attempted to limit the typography in my remixed trailer since the most effective trailers tell a story using primarily clips.


Image still from Sausage Massacre: The Mincing 

My trailer was organized into two parts. The first half of the trailer is light and playful as the food characters believe that being chosen by the “gods” (humans) was a great thing. The second half of the remixed trailer is the typical horror trailer using scary action sequences and images. I drew inspiration and modeled several horror trailers. One particular horror trailer, The Visit (M. Shyamalan, 2015), shows the trailer transformation that I utilized. In the first half of the trailer, it shows grand kids visiting their sweet grandparents at their house, while the second half transitions to a horror film as the grandparents are shown to be insane. I believe this format is very effective because the audience will either be surprised by the genre change or will be building in anticipation for the switch to horror. In my case, this formatting also serves a practical purpose because there is less material that I have to find for the horror scenes. Either way, I believe that this decision was very effective.

The remixed trailer uses many different signifiers to illustrate the horror genre. Marco Danesi describes in Messages, signs, and meanings:A basic textbook in semiotics and communication that semiotics can be “body language, art forms, rhetorical discourse, visual communication, media, myths, narratives, language, artifacts, gesture, eye contact, clothing, advertising, cuisine, rituals-in a phrase, anything that is used, invented, or adopted by human beings to produce meaning.” A signifier that was greatly used in my remixed trailer was lightness and darkness. The first half of the film was very bright to represent positivity and the belief that the “gods” were good. In fact, when the honey mustard jar is being carried out, the entire door is filled with sunlight which is often how heaven is illustrated. In contrast, the second half of the film is very dark and utilizes shadows to give an ominous and sinister viewpoint. Shot angle was used frequently in the remixed trailer to convey power. Bernard Dick mentions in Anatomy of Film that “low-angle shots can suggest power and dominance.” I utilized this idea in the remixed trailer as the humans were shown both to have power as a “god” or as a sinister food killer in both halves of the trailer.

Audio is a crucial part of any successful trailer. As Jessica Abel states in Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio, sound is used to create an “emotional tone” and create “a literal picture.” Hopefully, I was able to evoke suspense and fear and create a scary image in the mind of my audience. For the first half of the remixed trailer, I utilized a playful ukulele music to represent the happy nature of the food and how ignorant they are. In the second half of the trailer, I decided to use more natural sounds that are used to trigger fear in the audience. The main background sound that I used was a thumping heartbeat which is supposed to mirror the audience’s raising heart rate. The second sound that I chose was  the sound of a knife slicing cucumbers. This sound could represent either the slicing of the characters in the film or slicing into human flesh.

There were several problems that I had when making the trailer. First, with the film being a Rated R film, there was an absurd amount of curse words used in the film. In fact, there were probably not three lines in a row that did not have a single curse word in one of them. This severely limited me on the dialogue that I could use. Another problem was that background music or noise was used widely throughout the film. I tried to find the clips with the least amount of background noise but this was not always possible. Finally, I wished that I turned the background music lower and the audio clips with dialogue higher. The audio dialogue sounds quieter without headphones than with the headphones in the communications lab. The primary piece of advice that I would give future students is to use trailers within your genre as blueprints for your projects. Usually, these trailers are well made and are an effective way to understand techniques and traits associated with the specific genre.

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