Some interesting views on book trailers from around the web. In an NPR interview, Dennis Johnson, creator of an award for book trailers called The Moby, says,
“the whole concept of making a movie about your book is a denigration of your book.”
Johnson doesn’t explain how trailers denigrate books, but Drew Grant in Salon feels that book trailers are,
“a fairly ridiculous concept: trying to market literature to people who would rather wait until the movie version comes out.”
And in the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Shea deplores book trailers for borrowing from the marketing methods of Hollywood.
“A promotional Facebook page or Twitter feed? They make at least as much sense as a newspaper ad, these days. But short videos about books modeled after the Dolby-enhanced, hype-saturated previews used to sell “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”?
There’s a not-too-subtle books good, movies bad thread running through these pieces, but then Shea goes on to denigrate book trailers for not being Hollywood enough:
“…yet the videos’ earnest misguidedness is part of their charm: It’s refreshing that our word people can’t fake being video auteurs.”
This assumes that book trailers are always made by the authors themselves, when in fact some authors make their own trailers, some hire production companies to make their trailers, and sometimes publishers commission or produce trailers in-house.
I haven’t been able to find another example of an author/filmmaker directing their own book trailer, though, so I’m probably alone in the wilderness on this one. And none of the pieces above gets to grips with the filmmaking in book trailers, and because of that, they miss the reason why book trailers are both too Hollywood and not Hollywood enough: they skip the step of adaptation. There’s no effort being made to translate the verbal story into the visual story.