Scintillating sizzle reels

With only a couple of weeks left to prepare for MIP and a bit more for Hot Docs, I thought it would be a good idea to review putting together a fantastic trailer for your products. The days of paper pitches are over.

With the advent of cheap technology, reality or lifestyle buyers, fans and investors are now demanding a strong visual tease of your idea.

Call it a trailer, promo or sizzle reel – whatever you want – you need one on your website, mobile and iPad. You need it to entice people to commission your piece, become an ardent fan and invest their money and time in your project.

Of course, it depends who you’re pitching to and what your objective is in telling the story.

Lifestyle buyers are asking for a two-minute mini version of the show – the structure, shooting style and most certainly host and characters.

Attention spans are limited. Buyers quickly make the decision whether to take your idea any further. So you have a limited amount of time to show off your storytelling skills visually.

Here are some tips for creating scintillating sizzle reels.

Know your audience

For buyers, be clear on what exactly they want to see in your promo. For investors, product need and market are paramount. For your fan base, know they want inside information on your show like behind the scenes or bloopers. Your fans are also likely to have a longer attention span than buyers and investors.

The rules of storytelling still prevail

There needs to be a beginning: an introduction to the reel to set up the premise; a middle:  an introduction to the characters or situations in mounting intensity; and an end: some resolution for the viewer that leaves us wanting more.

Great characters are crucial to the success of the teaser

Engaging, eccentric and, most of all, great talkers who speak in images are a must.

A strong title

Your title needs to act as a punctuation point in the piece after the opening when you’ve established your premise. The first 30 seconds have to be engaging, gripping and attention getting. Otherwise the viewer clicks away or pushes the eject button on the DVD.

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