By Kim Tae-jong
In the trailer of the upcoming film "The Customer is Always Right
", four people mysteriously appear out of the darkness. Who they are, is only explained by such brief, vague descriptions as "a barber with a secret", "an inscrutable temptress" and "a strange intimidator".
The trailer offers few clues about the film yet successfully arouses an undeniable curiosity. After seeing it, what else can you do but go out and buy a ticket? And that's exactly what Choi Seung-won wants people to do.
The trailer director said the key to making a successful teaser is capturing the most appealing element in a movie and maximizing it.
"You need to come up with the right concept that can represent the whole film in a few minutes, and it should also be appealing enough to make people ache to see the film", Choi said.
It has become a common scene that moviegoers watch teasers and main trailers before they go to see a film, but things were different when Choi started working in the area of trailer production in 1999.
The history of local trailer production is comparatively short. The first trailer made for a local film, "Contact", was in 1997 when the local film industry started to gain its competitive edge with many quality films.
Choi believes the dawn of the Internet and the emergence of multiplex theaters have also had an important influence on the flourish of film trailers.
"Trailers are an important, and powerful promotional and marketing tool for films now. Responses and reactions from people after they watch them are enormous, which can be used for estimating audience numbers for each film", Choi said.
He has made some 30 trailers so far including the local comic-action film, "Art of Fighting
", a historical piece "Untold Scandal
", and a moving drama A Family
. But, he needed to take all different approaches for them.
"For a good trailer, you should also know the general sentiment of target audiences, not to mislead them. For example, if you just focus on the boxing scenes in the trailer of `Million Dollar Baby', people will just think it is just an ordinary sports-themed movie rather than a human drama", Choi said.
But as many recent films take a mixture of different genres and contain experimental elements, it becomes harder to find one accurate concept for each of them, Choi added.
"There used be some kind of formula. Each genre such as comedy, melodrama and horror has certain things that I should just highlight in their trailers, but now I have to come up with unique and creative ideas every time to best capture their beauty", Choi said.
For the trailer to "Art of Fighting
", he parodied a television commercial for Levis' Jeans and the British film "Trainspotting" to show the wacky side of the main character. And in the upcoming thriller "The Customer is Always Right
", he tried hard to hide many reverses and twists and at the same time imply them.
But what makes his job hardest is really quite obvious _ when a film has nothing interesting to show.
"Sometimes people call me a `swindler' when a film fails to reach their expectations after they see my trailer, but the thing is I just do my best to make movies look interesting, and honestly, there is nothing I can do to make the film itself better", Choi said.
When a film becomes a commercial flop even though it was made based on an interesting story, Choi said he is tempted to make his own film, which is why he plans to make his full feature directorial debut in the near future.
"I like this job very much, but sometimes I think I could've made films much better than their original directors or something as I was really excited by their brilliant scenarios", Choi said.