Yesterday I went to see Iron Man 2 and, as usual—SLAM!—there were—BLAM!—a lot of—CRASH!—trailers. It was almost a relief to see the Grown Ups trailer. At least the lame jokes weren’t ear-splitting.
As assaultive as it can be to watch a string of these cacophonous trailers, they have to be effective or they wouldn’t be used on nearly every film. So it got me wondering if these kinds of sonic explosions might pep up the trailers for more subtle fare. And maybe some synthesizer music beds wouldn’t hurt either. By the time I got home I had devised an experiment.
I was going to create a new soundtrack for an art film trailer and I was going to do it in the most slapdash way possible. If I worked on it for days, it wouldn’t really prove anything, as my natural instinct would be to keep polishing it and polishing it and making it as good as possible. In order to find out what the result would be if a bunch of noises were thrown together without any serious consideration, I set myself some rules. Number one, I would only spend an hour or so on it. Number two, I would only use the sound files from two sample sets I bought years ago from film composer Jeff Rona, out of a series he created called “Liquid Cinema.” One is called “Cinematic Ambiance,” and one is called “Cinematic Impact” (It appears Rona doesn’t sell them anymore.) I wasn’t going to hunt through my sample library looking for the perfect sounds or create any of my own, I was just going to quickly audition the samples on Rona’s discs, drag them into my music program, Logic, and see what happened. Mostly I did it right on the cuts, or as editors say, “Mickey Mousing” it. I didn’t have time to do it any other way.
I chose Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry for my trailer re-mix, because it is one of my favorite films and it was the most unlikely film I could think of for this kind of thing. I didn’t look at a single other trailer.
Of course the impetus for this project was easy mockery, but at the same time the process surprised me. Although my booms are intentionally dumb, sometimes Jeff’s music beds and ambient noises sounded really good to my ears. It didn’t matter which ones I used, they all did, particularly one at the end that sounded vaguely Middle Eastern to my ears. If you took out the booms, it might have even been pretty good, but booms were the whole point of this exercise. Here’s the original Zeitgeist trailer:
And here’s my remix. PLAY IT LOUD!
Reid Rosefelt is a veteran film publicist based in New York City. He has promoted hundreds of films, for such diverse moviemakers as Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodóvar, Errol Morris, Ang Lee and Werner Herzog. His personal clients have included The Sundance Institute, IFC and HBO Films, as well as Harvey Keitel, Ally Sheedy and the late Adrienne Shelly. His production publicity credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Godfather: Part III and, most recently, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. His blog can be found at http://my-life-as-a-blog.com/.