Friday, June 7, 2013

Behind the Scenes of the ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE Trailer

The trailer for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is here!

I can't wait for everyone to see it! I really love watching book trailers and am always curious about how they were made and the decision-making process for distilling thousands of words into a few short minutes of visuals. If anyone else out there reading this is also curious about the behind the scenes, then you are in luck, because I am spilling everything about the making of the ALP trailer.

One of the reasons I am so excited to share the trailer is because it was a project that my husband, Andrew (you can "like" his film and video company Boulevard Productions on facebook), and I worked on together. 

This wasn't our first time working together, though. My husband and I actually met in Southern California where we were both working towards our MFA's in Film and Television production. Although we are only two days apart age wise (Yes, really! His bday is March 17th and mine is March 19th) he was a year ahead of me in school and ended up being the teacher's assistant for one of my classes. One of our first big projects was shooting a short screenplay (like 3 pages short) that I'd written to be shot on actual film (instead of the crappy camcorders we'd been using up to that point). 

I was more than a little freaked out by this, since I was struggling a bit with all the technical blah blah blah in cinematography class. And then Andy announced to the class that if anyone needed a DP (director of photography), he was available.

I took him up on that offer, and now only [information redacted] years later, here we are married with two kids and once again working together on a little film project.

Anyway, since I always enjoy when the curtain is peeled back a bit to reveal the creative process, I thought that I would put together a blog post about what went into making the trailer.

Or, I guess I should say - the trailers. Because technically we sort of made two. And that was my fault.

It all started with me having a brilliant idea. Now sometimes my brilliant ideas pan out and sometimes they don't, but the one constant is that they always end up being a whole hell of a lot more work than I'd anticipated.

This time my brilliant idea was stop motion animation. Brilliant, right? Who doesn't like stop motion? And to add to that I was going to do stop motion with paper chain dolls. You know kind of like these: 

Except I wanted them to be spooky and cool and have a sort of sugar skull/day of the dead look. I cannot draw to save my life, so it was time to find some talent. Luckily, my very own sister, Nicole, is an amazing artist and was kind enough to offer to help me out with my crazy idea.

So one Saturday afternoon, I dropped the kids off at my mom's house and we turned our dining room table into a mini movie studio. 

My sister Nicole is drawing at the table while I helpfully stand over her and offer suggestions.

You can't see it in the pic, but we laid kraft paper out on the table for the background, and then put the camera up on some chairs and pointed it down at the table. Then it was time to get the paper dolls moving.

Actually, let me back up. First Nikki had to cut out all the paper dolls. And there were a lot of them. Here are some after pics of the dolls:


Then we started moving everything in tiny little increments, moving our hands in and out of the frame, so the dolls appeared to be moving on their own. All together, making the dolls and shooting them took about four hours. And during that time I discovered that I was not a huge fan of stop motion. It is a tedious process that requires just a bit more patience than I have to give. So lesson learned there.

But with the stop motion out of the way, everything else was going to be smooth sailing, right? Well... at first it was. 

I found a great song that I was able to license from a site called by an artist named Fisher and I was pretty sure it was going to be perfect. Then my husband, Andy (who had also done all the camera work on the shoot - not sure if I made that clear earlier), started editing. Two days later he had an early cut. I watched it and was... 


Yeah. In my head it was so very perfect, but on the screen it was just... okay. The dolls and stop-motion were definitely cool, but thirty seconds into the video the novelty wore off and I was bored. Instead of building, the video was just sort of flat.

Okay, now you're curious, right? Want to see the ALP trailer take 1? Well, here it is:

So, that was take one. Remember this is just a rough first edit, but you can get the basic idea.

It was back to the drawing board... except I didn't want to throw out ALL the stop-motion stuff that we'd done because some of it was very cool. 

That's when Andy stepped in with an idea to save everything. From the beginning, when I'd first told him about my brilliant idea, he wanted to shoot some live-action stuff with it to break up all the stop-motion. I was against it, because the stop-motion was going to be so totally and completely awesome all by itself. 

So, yeah, we ended up doing what Andy had suggested from the start and that is when things FINALLY started to click. 

Andy also suggested taking our inspiration from the beautiful cover (look it's over there ----> in the sidebar!) and start with a shot where we only see the back of a girl and then slowly slowly slowly close in on here. I was on board - except that now we needed an actress. Luckily, I have a bunch of friends from my theatre major days at Niagara University and they were able to recommend someone completely perfect for the part: Jenny Kulwicki. 

Jenny agreed to come out on a horribly freezing day in the middle of March. She let me cover her with fake blood. AND she is an amazing actress too. So, basically that was just about the easiest and most successful casting I've ever done.

Here's Jenny and me in between shots, wearing over-sized ski-jackets
to keep from freezing, while I re-apply the fake blood.
With the live-action stuff shot, it was time to edit once more. As much as I loved the song from triplescoopmusic, I felt that I needed more atmosphere and less lyrics. This time I searched for music in a more basic stock music site, because I was looking for simpler background mood music and sound effects. After some searching I found a few things I liked, and passed them along to Andy. He put it together with the stop-motion, the live-motion, and some new graphics. And this time when he showed it to me - I loved it!

Okay, well, I had a few small suggestions. (Sample: "So last night when I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking of that one shot and how it's not really working for me. Could we put something else there? Yeah, this is why it's great to be married to your editor.)

Eventually, we got it exactly where we wanted it to be and TA-DA that is the trailer that premiered today!

Anyway, I am super proud of how it all turned out and so amazed and incredibly grateful for all the hard work that so many people were willing to put into it! I hope that everyone enjoys it and gets super-excited to read ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE.


  1. Those paper dolls are incredible! I'm reading ALP right now, and just thinking about the story behind what the dolls are doing...YIKES!!

    1. Glad you like the paper dolls. It took awhile for me to figure out a way to make paper dolls seem creepy, but when I saw the sugar skulls, I knew that was going to be the way. And I hope you are enjoying ALP!