Regardless of what stage of the filmmaking process you’re in, continually building awareness about your project is key. And one big way to accomplish that is with a teaser — and just below, we’ll tell you exactly what that term means, why it matters, and how to approach making one.
Teasers are even shorter than trailers (making them easier to produce) and are designed to act as a marketing tool for you to announce your project before revealing your final film or series to the world. Think of them as a device to whet the audience’s appetite, allowing viewers to experience a spark of your story while simultaneously building intrigue for the full project.
Where does this image come from?? We’ll tell you below as this is but a #teaser
But where to start when it comes to actually creating a teaser? We highlighted five elements to help, so you can ensure your work is seen by a multitude of eyes.
1) Keep it short and sweet. Or, just short.
In the world of online video, shorter is better. People tend to like their stuff boiled down into small, digestible, bite-sized videos — particularly if they’ve never heard of you or your work before. Use your teaser as an opportunity to get people excited, knowing they won’t need to commit too much time to watching it.
A good way to approach the final length of your teaser is to consider the final runtime of the full film. If your actual video is four-minutes long, a 60-second teaser may reveal too much. If your film is an hour, on the other hand, you probably won’t be giving everything away with a 60-second teaser. Be conscious about what you reveal so that your audience will want to come back for the rest, and make your teasers proportional to the runtime of your actual film.
The film View from a Blue Moon, for example, is 59-minutes long, and the creators kept their stunning teaser to about a minute and a half.
This rule is also what audiences are used to: movie trailers have to be less than two and a half minutes to be allowed by the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America). But the average film length is 130 minutes. That’s a big time difference between the two ... and teasers are designed to be even shorter than trailers. So while it may feel like you have a lot to get a across, keeping it quick will attract more views.
2) Leave them yearning for more
How can you ensure your audience will want more? Pique their interest. Now is the time for shiny objects, flashing lights, sonic implosions … or whatever sly and subtle visual thrills you want to throw in to get people’s attention (as long as they’re story relevant, of course). You want to strike a delicate balance between giving your audience enough to want the full film, but not enough to give away your whole plot.
One great way to accomplish that balance is to raise questions but withhold answers. You can do that with a voiceover script, or by presenting images of conflict, intrigue, or interest. This means including visuals that make up part of the larger story, without providing the entire context. In the teaser below for the short film Anomaly, we see images of an astronaut in space, lovers, a hospital, a birth … all without knowing how the visuals tie together to tell a complete narrative.
3) Get inventive with your footage
Use your teaser to introduce a story element or storytelling approach. This doesn’t mean that 100% of the footage has to be pulled from the final film. The shots you use don’t have to match the film’s chronology, either. Basically, the teaser is your oyster. Feel free to get creative with what you include.
Remember that the goal of a teaser is different than the goal of your film. The teaser’s goal is draw people in; the film’s goal is to tell a story. At the same time, you don’t want to be misleading with your teaser. It should at least thematically relate to your story. Otherwise, you might have some disgruntled audience members.
For a great example of how a teaser can differ from a film while still being relevant, take a look at the teaser for this music video directed by Nacho Guzman.
Now, compare it to the final film:
The teaser uses a visual that appears in the end product — the interesting lighting and the quizzical expressions from the talent leave you wanting to know just what’s going on. But the teaser visuals are presented very differently in the final music video, with many additional layers, and for a much shorter time. The teaser uses material that stays on theme, piques interest, and doesn’t spoil the film.
4) The more the v. merrier
Just because you want to keep the teaser as short as possible doesn’t mean you have to limit the amount of videos you share. You may want to consider creating multiple teasers — a handy workaround for that time limit. This will let you get more creative with what you include, ask more questions of your audience, and tease out the release of the new film or episode in a way that increases engagement.
It’s a good idea to spread out the release of your teasers so that you keep the momentum going before you release the final film. You don’t want to inundate your audience, or worse, bore them. Create a reasonable schedule to leading up to the release date for the film itself, and promote those teasers across the nets on social media. Speaking of...
5) Get those views
Once you’ve made a teaser, the goal is to get it seen. How can you get the word out? Vimeo has a number of helpful features to ensure that your teaser is watched. You should pick an engaging thumbnail that will draw people in. Title it appropriately, tag it, and credit collaborators so it shows up on their accounts and they can share your teaser as well. Use the teaser’s description to let people know it’s part of a larger project, and give them a time for release or any additional links to the film’s site. You can also add your teaser to all relevant groups and channels to boost awareness.
Here’s an example of a thorough teaser description for the upcoming documentary series by Ryan Booth, Kings of Texas, that tells you everything you want to know about the project:
And after you’ve nailed down your description, tags, and thumbnail, be sure to share your teaser with your existing audience through social media, email newsletter, the power of friends and family, and fellow Vimeo community members.
Any lingering questions about making teaser videos? Ask us below, and we promise we won’t leave you in suspense for too long (see what we did there?). We’d also love to hear what’s worked for you as well, so do share if you’ve got advice!