19 April 2021

The Essential Guide on How to Make a Movie Trailer for Fun, Work, or School

A movie trailer can stand on its own and attract as much interest and attention as the movie itself. Just like a good advertisement, a good movie trailer can make or break the movie's success ultimately. But what if you're looking for how to make a movie trailer for a school project or just for fun? Or a movie trailer teasing a longer video project for social media on your YouTube channel. Does it still need to be worked on at the level that a commercial movie release requires?

Making a movie trailer can be great fun and a learning experience for students looking to prepare for a cinema career. You don't have to have gone to film school yet in order to learn how to make a funny movie trailer or create a horror movie trailer for a Halloween prank. All these and more can be done with your mobile phone and a few good editing tricks. Here's how.

How to make your own movie trailer for fun

If you're just trying to create a fun video teasing a personal film about a holiday or making a movie trailer as a set-up for an invitation to a party, you can follow the same principles of a "serious" trailer. Here's how to make a movie trailer on an iPhone or other smartphone with the help of a video editing app.

Select your footage

The first thing you need is your movie footage, of course. Select the scenes that will go into your trailer, taking into account that a trailer is meant to tease the film without giving away the key plot twists. You should, however, include some conflict scenes to suggest there is more than one plot point and generate interest.

Organize your trailer in three acts

The three-act structure is a classic response if you search for how to cut a movie trailer on your own. Here it is in a nutshell:

  • The beginning should introduce the main characters, the setting, and the film's premise
  • The middle should create or heighten the conflict
  • The end should feature a climax

Show stunning scenes

One of the key ways in which trailers capture the audience's attention is by showing some of the most visually compelling shots of the film. This will whet your viewers' appetite for the movie.

While you need to select the most beautiful scenes, be careful not to use anything that gives away too much of the plot. You still want people to watch the final product!

Add music

One of the key principles of how to edit a movie trailer is to add music that matches the atmosphere of the film. You might be able to reuse some musical background from the film itself, and oftentimes it's great to have continuity by using the same key song in the trailer as on the movie soundtrack.

How to make a movie trailer voice

Another staple feature of movie trailers is the movie trailer voice. This can be achieved by using a video editing app, like Splice, with the right sound effects built-in. Or search for "how to movie trailer voice" online and you can download apps to help you.

Include text and transitions

To make your trailer more attractive and exciting, remember to add some text and transition slides. You can also add sound effects to heighten the suspense. Your video editing app will have several sound effects to choose from, as well as text formats to put across the screen. Remember the animation that text usually has in a movie trailer in the theater as well.

Control the pace of your movie trailer

Regardless of how the scenes were shot originally when you cut your movie trailer you can mix them up and render them faster or slower depending on the mood you want to convey to your audience. A quick cut between short scenes adds urgency and suggests a fast-paced film if you're looking at how to make an action movie trailer, for example.

How to make a movie trailer for a school project

In film school, you will certainly cover movie trailers as part of the filmmaking process. Their essential role in creating hype for a movie is usually best conveyed by creating a discussion around the purpose of movie trailers, the typical length and features, and the effects that movie trailers have traditionally had on audience numbers in the cinemas.

However, creating your own movie trailer can be an interesting school project even outside of film studies. Here's how to film a movie trailer about a historical topic for a school project and how to edit your movie trailer taking into account the advice above as well.

Refer to the script / facts

If you're putting together a movie trailer as an exercise in learning history, you'll want to film essential scenes around a historical event. This means there is a "script" already: the actual history books. 

Study the events to understand the key moments which should go into your movie trailer. Then, create the trailer script separately, writing down what will go into each section.

Film your trailer scenes

Let's say you're learning how to create a movie trailer and using Henry VIII as the main subject. By reading about his life, you'll identify other key characters such as his wives, his key court members, the Pope... you get the idea!

Look at filming very short scenes teasing what happens in his relationships with each of these characters, imagining how they would be extracted from a wider film.

Use video editing for your special effects, music, and titles

Refer to the tips above on how to add music, text, and transitions in order to edit a movie trailer to perfection. Remember to highlight the key actors. As a humorous touch, you can create a credit roll where you present the historical figures "as themselves" in your cast list. 

In your video editing app, use the movie trailer voice for the complete effect.

Include keywords

All movie trailers follow the concept of attracting the viewer into cinema by enticing their curiosity. This means that you should include some specific keywords such as "the biggest adventure" or "the scandal that was never talked about" - to suggest that something new or unusual will be revealed in your final movie.

Whether you are looking into how to make a good movie trailer as a fun personal project, for a school assignment, or genuinely for a movie you are looking to release, this guide will have you on your way to Hollywood in no time. Remember the popcorn and enjoy!

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