The Especially Shot Teaser

Fan culture has created a hive hunger, an all-consuming mass need for information relating to their preferred movies. Anticipation for trailers, and more importantly what new footage they contain, is frenzied and continues until after a film is released with talk about footage in the trailer that didn't make it to the final cut (and what this means in terms of eventual extended releases or Director's cuts). In response the industry likes to keep their products under wraps so that they have total control over any footage being released.

The result of this is that we rarely get trailers containing especially shot footage anymore. If a teaser is released prior to production it will normally come in the form of an animated logo, while additional material is shot on the cheap and featured as part of viral marketing. This was not always the case.

The especially shot teaser trailer was something of a trend in the eighties and nineties and helped build anticipation of a movie in advance of its completion. Back to the Future had a trailer that featured all the iconic elements of the movie, including Michael J. Fox, yet featured no actual footage. Or check out this one for Terminator 2 that was shot before the film went into production and cost more money to make than most low-budget movies do now.

The Thing kept it simple, creating an eerie atmosphere with a nicely controlled camera, some dry ice and a prop ice block. This trailer builds so much damn tension yet doesn't reveal anything.

Of course the problem is that a trailer like this can promise a movie that you don't actually end up getting. I remember being thrilled to see Godzilla's foot come crashing through that museum roof only to be severely let down by the movie itself. Or this teaser for Jason takes Manhattan that revels in the notion that Jason is going hack away at the Big Apple for 90 minutes when in reality it only features in the film's finale.

My absolute favourite, however, is for Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3. I haven't seen the full movie but only because I'm pretty sure it can't live up to the sheer awesomeness of this trailer.

Structured much like Jason's, this trailer pays off not with a turn and grimace but with the lady of the lake hurling a silver chainsaw into the sky. The mind boggles at how the narrative would explain that if this footage were to actually appear in the final cut but by god that is a movie I'd want to see.

The especially shot trailer isn't entirely dead, but the courting of fan anticipation means that it is used far more rarely. I'm not asking for a revival, I'm just asking for some appreciation of this creative marketing.

Oh and if someone could go ahead and make that version of Leatherface that would be great too.


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