October 3, 2019

Why Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewel' Trailer Is a Masterpiece of Editing

Clint Eastwood's new movie should win an Oscar for Best Trailer. 

The first trailer for Richard Jewel, Eastwood's new movie based on the real-life bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, proves that marketing is an art form -- one that require as much craft to sell a movie as it does for filmmakers like Eastwood to make one. 

This first trailer for the 2019 Oscar hopeful is a Swiss Watch when it comes to pacing and tension. Jon Hamm's character, a Federal Officer, plays a key role in establishing the movie preview's slow-burn tension. There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.” Hamm's repetition of that phrase throughout the two-minute run time, is this trailer's version of Inception's "braaaahm!" That line is both a critical piece of evidence in the real incident and a mechanism to build on and deliver tension. The sound design, building on after the second utterance of this phrase, escalates the intensity along with a series of perfectly-timed cuts that ratchets the tension to edge-of-your-seat levels. Watch for yourself:

Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya) plays Jewell, and seems more than game for playing the security-guard-turned-hero-turned-villain in a movie that aims to chronicle how both the media and the U.S. Government's handling of the case ruined a life not cut out for the spotlight -- but was forced into it regardless. 

Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, and Ian Gomez also star. 

What You Can Learn

Eastwood hasn't made a "good" movie since Sully. He has been more miss than hit in the fourth (or is it fifth?) act of his directorial career. Richard Jewel strongly hints that he has found material worthy of a comeback of sorts -- and that he, screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), and Warner Bros. marketing team know how to sell this twisted real-life story as the tragic thriller it is. 

Stories based on true events prove often to be marketing challenges, making it difficult for studios to justify the making of them. Richard Jewel's trailer is evidence to challenge the norms there and greenlight more films of this ilk for adult audiences starved for something outside the four-quadrant popcorn fare. Creating a trailer that services those needs, in a way to says "must see" without being too over the top, is nothing short of a miracle given the current filmmaking landscape. 

Long story less long: You can learn a lot about music, editing, and marketing in this trailer. It's Filmmaking 101 in less than three minutes. Start studying now. 

Richard Jewell opens everywhere December 13.     

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1 Comment

I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to say here. It's a professionally cut trailer but if this article did not exist, indistinguishable from hundreds if not thousands of other trailers that use a repeating, rising tension structure. It's hardly filmaking 101. This, however, it's advanced level studies and using much more complex repetition, escalating, slow and fast cutting, sound design to create a trailer that changed trailers. Might be the 2001 of trailers. https://youtu.be/LjLamj-b0I8

October 5, 2019 at 12:01AM

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Stephen A van Vuuren
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