Among the many jobs I've done over time include writing movie trailers. (Yes, I've actually written the words, "In a world where...")
I was once hired to write a parody of another trailer. The studio loved it -- but thought the end was a little over the top, could I tone it down? Sure, no problem. They loved the new version -- except the part before the new end that was fine before was now a bit too over-the-top for them. Could I tone that down now? Absolutely, not a problem.
This went on for six drafts. Finally, they asked for one more change. Something was too over-the-top, and they wanted to know if I could change it? What I said was, "Yes, I can tone that down. Just know, though, that if I do, it will no longer be a parody of that other trailer, but a direct copy." Without skipping a beat, the executive said, "That's okay."
The first trailer I ever wrote that got me started was never actually made. That's not uncommon, but it's just odd because it's what got me in with the company. They needed a trailer fora new, live-action version of Casper. The problem was -- Steven Spielberg wouldn't let them give away the special effects CGI Casper, and he didn't want people to think the movie was a cartoon. The company didn't have a clue to do, they'd been trying for weeks but were totally stumped. Oh, and "We need them tomorrow by the end of the day." I'd never written a trailer before in my life, and that was my assignment! Driving home, an idea suddenly hit me, and by the time I got to my desk, I knew exactly what to do. I wrote the trailer scripts up and had them back to the company the first thing in the morning. They were bowled over that I had something and that fast -- and even more thrilled that they loved them.
Alas, the studio didn't. They were too out of the box. More little narratives than normal trailers. So, they said "no." A foolish thing because I think they were so off-beat that they would have gotten SO much attention. But the company at least loved them, and so they kept hiring me, which is how I got started in that field.
All the trailers put a cartoon Casper into a real-life setting. One had Casper on a psychiatrist's couch -- his friends insisted he see the doctor because they were concerned he kept insisting that his new movie wasn't a cartoon. At one point, he began shouting to the doctor's challenging questions, "I'm not a cartoon! I'm not a cartoon! I'm not a cartoon!!!!" The psychiatrist is taken aback and says, "You don't have to be so hostile." To which Casper replies, "I'm friendly, not a wimp."
Another trailer had the cartoon Casper as a guest on the Larry King Show. He was explaining to the real Larry that in his new movie he wasn't a cartoon, because he wanted to stretch and try something new. They also took phone calls, one of which said, "Hi, Casper, I'm a big fan, loved in in Ghostbusters." Casper corrects him that he hadn't been in it.
The final one was a real-life courtroom scene where the cartoon Casper was on trial for saying that his new movie wasn't a cartoon. He's on the stand, getting drilled by the human prosecutor, and it looks bad for him. The prosecutor leans in for the kill and asks with a coup-de-grace sneer, "Why should we believe that your new movie isn't a cartoon, but 'real life'?" Casper answers, "Because it's produced by Steven Spielberg." The entire courtroom goes, "Oooooooooooo." And then judge slams the gavel, "Not guilty! Case dismissed!"
This all leads me to a wonderful, fake trailer that Mark Evanier posted on his website. It takes the hilarious comedy, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and some fellow re-edits the trailer to make it look like a totally different movie entirely. It's brilliantly done.
And now for something completely different --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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