Now that Child Taken has been released, the views of the various versions of the book’s trailer runs into the thousands.
But why make a book trailer to begin with? Apart from the above numbers, of course?
Two reasons. Firstly, as I was writing the book, I saw a trailer by Rachel Abbott and thought it was a great idea. A little different and also something that sits nicely in the video culture we live in today. I also felt that it was a way of getting people to visualise the first few pages in the way that the ‘Look Inside’ does on Amazon.
Secondly, I knew the exact person who could help me make it a reality.
My step-brother, Dan, makes videos for a living. Wedding, corporate, you name it. He currently has half the Far East following his every move and was recently on a news programme that had a few hundred million views talking about his craft. I’d recommend that anyone who wants to make a trailer on a limited budget, gets themselves a Dan.
It also helped that we was getting married; because that meant a stag night and it was at the end – drunk and not thinking things through properly – that he uttered the words any author with virtually no budget wants to hear.
‘I’ll do that trailer for you…for free’
Once he was married and sober, I reminded him of his promise and that even the spoken word is a contract in the eyes of the law. I don’t know that’s correct (I heard it on Friends, I think) but it didn’t matter anyway as he still wanted to do it; in fact he was looking forward to doing something different and challenging so we set about getting it completed by the end of the summer of 2016 (we needed a sunny day, but more about that later).
Here’s how it went…
There was Dan. And that was about it as his usual side-kick was on holiday on the day of filming so Dan covered cameras, sound and all that goes with it. He gave me the job of directing. And carrying the drone. But multi-tasking, despite what they say about our gender, was a key part of the process.
We relied exclusively on family, friends and anyone else we could coerce. The star (three year old, Ava) was always my first and only choice and was amazing, but her mother (Leanne, pictured above with Ava) wasn’t far behind. In the final version I have my wife, mother-in-law, daughter and father playing background roles. The ice cream man I didn’t know but he soon got on board when I said we’d probably want to buy about twenty ice creams during and after the shoot.
One beach (Anderby Creek, on the East Coast) was recommended and was absolutely perfect. While scouting it, we found that Mablethorpe was an unlikely but equally ideal spot for some of the shots we wanted so the day’s actual filming was split between them. We picked probably the second best day (of those available) for sun in the end, which was fortunate given we had to plan a fortnight ahead with the British weather and especially using the BBC weather app which can say it’s dry while the rain is bouncing off your forehead. But we had no such worries and the shots – and the drone shots especially – were brilliant and beyond our wildest expectations. Back in Nottingham, the house scenes too, courtesy of my friends, Carron and Ben, were fantastic.
I actually had a band offer their services for free, and I might well go back to them in future to take them upon it, but credit to Dan who very early on suggested the ice cream van tune. It worked a treat both in normal speed and when we slowed it down in the second half of the trailer. Better still it was hundreds of years old so royalty free and meant I could say ‘Music by Henry VIII’ if I wanted to, although that bit’s somewhat of a myth, apparently.
The music, like the whole shoot, was the very definition of ‘done on a shoestring budget’. At one point I think I actually wanted to see just how little we could get away with spending. In the end, the only thing that troubled the accountants was a fish and chip supper for principle cast and crew (although I did stretch to a burger for Ava) and a small fee for a sunny beach shot we didn’t get on the day and purchased from a website. Oh, and two dishes from Sainsburys that we were going to smash but it turned out we got the shot first time so I kept one of them!
The Post Production
Armed with hours of footage from everything from seagulls to flags to waves crashing on the beach, Dan set about finding the best frames to include and we spent a couple of days going through them and choosing the ones that were perfect. This is why you need a Dan. I thought the step of putting all these great frames together would take weeks; but Dan did it in an afternoon while I sat watching. We did a few edits after that and kept fine tuning bits until we were both really happy.
The Final Cut
We did only one final afternoon’s chopping and changing, plus adding a few more text frames to give the story more context. When it was done, we sat back and watched the final version and even we were surprised how good it looked. We did some shorter versions for publicity and they were equally effective. The reaction from everyone has been brilliant and I can’t believe that, for such low cost, we came up with something that looks so amazing on screen – as they say, it’s not what you know….
See the trailers here….
Click here to view full version of Child Taken book trailer
Click here to view 60 Second Version
Click here to view 30 Second Version
For more on the making of, check out this accompanying video that Dan made