Featured Course

The Art of the Movie Trailer

The Following Story Contains No Spoilers

The way we experience movie trailers may be shifting to smaller screens (laptops, tablets, smartphones), but make no mistake, trailers are bigger than ever. The big three—theatrical teasers, theatrical trailers, TV spots—aren’t going anywhere. But thanks to the internet, they now exist alongside viral videos and mini trailers, as well as easy-to-access international and red band trailers.

“Ever since my days at ArtCenter, I’ve fundamentally been a writer,” says ArtCenter alumnus Devin Hawker (BFA 84 Film) who teaches The Art of the Movie Trailer at ArtCenter at Night and has worked on 650 major film campaigns during the past 24 years—everything from Argo to Zootopia. “What I do for a living is a bit hard to describe, but I think of myself as a professional brainstorming resource.”

Hawker says the art of making a trailer is condensing, distilling and positioning an existing film into a short, captivating format. “It’s telling a two-hour story in two minutes,” he says. “Or it’s packaging elements around one scene to make it really provocative.” For an example of the latter, he points to the Men in Black II teaser trailer he produced, which required the film’s director Barry Sonnenfeld to shoot special footage of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.

In Hawker’s course, students research and develop trailer concepts through a proof of concept pitch—which can be verbal, a script, a PowerPoint presentation or a rough edit. “Taking existing footage and making it provocative is a skill that has application for artists, designers and entrepreneurs of all types,” he says. “Whether you’re an independent film producer pitching your film or a product designer creating a Kickstarter, it all boils down to structuring and telling a compelling story.”

Courses for the Fall 2016 term of ACN begin September 12. Registration begins August 15. Scholarship deadline is August 18. For more information, visit the program's website.

Top image: Concept by Devin Hawker for a Monsters vs. Aliens ShoWest (now CinemaCon) presentation. Storyboards by Wayne Coe (BFA 83 Illustration).