The new and improved book trailer for Silver Pearl is now up on YouTube! (Okay, it's just slightly tweaked, but whatever.)
You can go to my YouTube Channel HERE
I thought I'd share a little behind the scenes look at how I made this one.
My first step when I make a trailer is to write the script -- in other words, the words. It looks like a poem when I've finished, just scribbles in a notebook. Then next to each line, I jot down what photos I want to use with it. I decided when I first started making trailers that I would only use my own photos because I didn't want to have to deal with buying other people's and worrying about copyright laws. This isn't really a problem for me, because I have hundreds of photos on my computer -- my own personal stock photo collection. For years, I've never gone anywhere without a camera, and the things I like to photograph lend themselves to the things I like to write, so it's surprisingly easy to find photos that evoke the feelings I want to show in the trailer. None of my trailers have any real people in them. I think in some ways, it's more powerful to evoke a mood and let the viewers' imaginations fill the rest in.
Once I have my script, I make a list of photos I need to take for this particular project and then do a photo shoot. For Silver Pearl, I only needed three new images.
One was easy -- I needed photos of a pearl. I used one of my earrings and a red washcloth for a nice background and to hide the post. The next was easy, too. I needed a photo of a van. We have one in our garage, and it was already dirty and scary looking. I shot a close up of the sliding door, which is unique to vans, and fit with the line about Joel being dragged inside
The last image was a lot harder. I wanted some photos of arrows. I didn't have any arrows lying around, but my father-in-law is a hunter, and he lent me a couple. He wanted to loan me a bow, too, but I explained that didn't need one. Fortunately, he knows me well enough not to think I'd completely lost my mind. I picked a couple serious looking arrows meant for deer hunting, which was close enough to unicorn hunting for me, and headed home.
My next problem was how to photograph them. My first thought was to stick them in the ground, but that wouldn't really be dramatic enough since you wouldn't see the arrowhead. Not only that, but there was snow on the ground, and my story doesn't take place in the winter. So I decided to photograph them in the air. I got my camera ready and threw an arrow into the sky. Obvious problem -- it was going away from me, and I wanted it coming it at me. Second problem -- it fell faster than I could focus.
So I got my teenage daughter to help. She's used to her mother doing some pretty strange things in the name of art, but this took the cake.
"You want me to throw arrows at you?"
"Well, not at me, kind of over me."
"You do know the wind's blowing, right?"
"And if you go in the emergency room with a arrow sticking out of you, I'm going to end up in jail and you're going to end up in a psychiatric ward, right?"
I envisioned calling my publisher to explain and bail us out. For a moment, I hesitated, then I told her to go ahead and throw the arrows.
It was a little scary, considering I was using a telephoto lens and it made the arrows look a lot bigger and closer. But I got half a dozen good shots and did not have to do the final edits for the story from a padded cell.
Once I had all my shots, I put them together in a file and worked on each one -- cropping and adjusting the color balance and that kind of thing. My father had a dark room when I was a kid, so I learned how to do all that a long time ago. Doing it on a computer is so much easier. I really changed up some of the photos a lot to give them the mood I wanted, especially the shots of the "hidden meadow," which were taken in normal daylight that didn't show any mystery.
Then, finally, I uploaded them all into Windows Movie Maker and dragged them onto the timeline in the right order. Then I typed in the text, deciding whether to go on the image, or before it. Then I put in transitions -- in this case, all fades -- between each photo. Then I added effects -- in this case, all zooms. I wanted to keep this video very clean and simple and not flashy. This part takes hours of tiny tweaking to get everything to happen at the right time and not have titles coming in on top of each other.
Finally, the music. Again, I have to be really careful to find music that is free and available to be used for commercial purposes as long as I give proper credit. I go into the process with just a general idea of what I want, and a pretty clear idea of what I don't want. I simply listen to a lot of selections. When I hear the right one, I know it. I heard this piece by Tom Fahy and didn't have to listen to any others. I downloaded it, added it to the timeline, and that was pretty much it.
Some trivia: the shot of the moon through the dead tree limbs I took one day hiking in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom -- a wild, rugged part of the state. I also got the photo of the path later that same day. The shot of the moon in the dark over the water is a place where my husband and I stopped to eat some subs we'd just bought near the Lamoille River on our way to visit his parents for the evening. The two waterfall shots came from a hike I did in the White Mountains of New Hampshire a few years ago. The shot of the pretty green mountain is interesting. It's called Camel's Hump, and it is one of the Green Mountains here in Vermont. I originally took this shot as a possibility for the cover of my novel Notice. It didn't get used, but I really like it, so I slipped it in here. I had a hard time not getting any power lines in the photo. I was pulled off on the side of a very busy road when I took it. See what a dangerous business writing can be?
The shot looking down on a lake is actually in Acadia National Park in Maine. The barn is on our family farm, as is the shot of my mother's irises. The apple blossom buds are from the trees on my front yard. The "hidden meadow" is also my front yard. The starbursts are from a day I was fooling around with a new filter. The close up of the pine needles is in front of my neighbor's barn -- the nice out of focus dark background is the wall. And the owl is a Barred Owl, which I took through my kitchen window a few years ago.
So all these photos were taken over the course of probably five years and in three different states, and some of them at grave personal risk to the author. In a lot of ways, they are much harder than writing the story. But I love making book trailers -- they combine writing and photography and music, all of which are really important to me. In some ways, they feel like little mini works of art in themselves. Do they help sell my stories? I hope so. In any case, they are loads of fun to make.
For purchase information about Silver Pearl, click HERE