The final cut

Theme, flow and the right amount of suspense are the ingredients required to make the perfect trailers.

By Author   |   Published: 8th Jan 2017   12:38 am
Final Cut

Sankranti not only heralds the start of spring and harvest of crops, but is also the time to reap rewards of films produced in the preceding year. Just as Diwali and Eid are big things for the release of films in Bollywood, so is Sankranti for Tollywood. 

Considered the ‘film season’, Tollywood films with big stars often release at this time to cash in on the festival mood which sees families thronging theatres to watch the latest movie.

This year, besides smaller productions, two big films, megastar Chiranjeevi’s Khaidi No.150 and Nandamuri Balakrishna’s  100th film Gautamiputra Satakarni, will hit the screens during Sankranti. And going by the look and feel of the teasers and  trailers, both the films seem to be high on entertainment.

The key word here is ‘trailers’. After all, it is these one-minute snippets that entice, cajole or simply attract the viewers and build the excitement to coax viewers to watch the film.

Finer nuances: Martand K Venkatesh explaining the process of editing. Photo: Kandi Sunny.

Cutting it right

Thanks to the internet, we can watch these trailers endless times on our computer screens and mobile phones, allowing us to react and dissect them in any way we want. But rarely do we give any thought to those who make them.

Junaid Siddique.

One of the well-known editors in the city, Junaid Siddique, has edited countless trailers and his most recent work can be seen in films like Ism and Kalyana Vaibhogame.  “It takes nearly a week to edit the trailer, keeping the preference of the director, producer and hero in mind.

It also depends on whether it’s a big or small budget movie. Some like to unveil the film in the trailer itself, while others prefer to keep the plot points under wraps. But until the movie releases, no one can judge if it will do well or not,” says Junaid.

Editing is a very crucial and technical part of the post-production process in filmmaking, which can make or break a film. A banner may announce a film, disseminate teasers and gossip through the media, but it’s the trailer which finally creates the buzz around a movie.

Amusement for audience

In the days of yore, the first films to be made in India had one long, static and locked-down shot where motion was used to amuse the audience. The motion could be something as mundane as traffic on a city street. There was no editing of any sort and the movie ran as long as there was film in the camera. It was only in the 90s that trailers took off in a big way with Doordarshan showing promos of TV shows and films. Before the other channels came into the market, Zee TV was the first to show trailers. Till then, it was the Publicity Division’s job to create attractive posters to catch the audience’s attention.

Tough avocation

In those days, editing was one of the toughest jobs around where the film editor had several assistants to check the reel manually to look for the best shots.

These would then be cut and pasted together carrying the movie forward. Thanks to   high-end software now such as Avid and Final Cut Pro (FCP), it’s no longer that tedious.

Typically, the film editor sees the entire raw footage, selects the shots and combines them into sequences to create the final motion picture. “We see a minimum 20 hours’ rushes and begin the first set of editing where we bring it down to 3-4 hours. This footage is tightened in the second round. In case a shot is not good, we ask the directors to reshoot the scene. The final footage is cleared by the director and producer, in some cases the hero as well,” says Martand K Venkatesh, one of first senior editors in Telugu film industry to work on Avid. His work can be seen in films like Bangalore Naatkal, Uyyala Jampala and Pokiri.

For the fight and song sequences, the action directors sit with the editor and make the final cuts. But the final decision for the full length film lies with the editor.

A different cup of tea

“Editing a movie is very different from that of a trailer. If the best shots are shown in the trailer, the audiences may expect more and they may be disappointed if the movie doesn’t match their expectations which happened with Kabaali. That’s why editors prefer a trailer that keeps the viewer guessing,” explains Martand. 

The rules change when it comes to English films which are dubbed in Telugu. In fact, Lakshmi Ganapathi banners have become synonymous with dubbed English films which oftenhas a female voice as the narrator to register the film with the masses. “With such films, the director tells us about the target audience and we edit the trailer accordingly,” says Junaid. At the end of the day, the idea is to present the best product possible to the audience. “It doesn’t matter how many people work behind the scenes to make the film. Ultimately, it is the story which is the hero of the movie,” concludes Junaid.