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Saturday, July 31, 1999 Published at 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK

Trailers become main attraction

The Star Wars trailer: A movie-marketer's dream come true

Preparations are well under way for The Golden Trailers, billed as the world's first-ever awards show to honour excellence in movie trailer craft.

This week marks the deadline for entries for the awards which are a mini-Oscars for the men and women who devote their time to creating movie previews.

Prizes will be handed out for the best in some 20 different categories at a ceremony in New York on 21 September.

The Golden Trailer Awards is the creation of a trio of young film-makers who have a background in advertising.

[ image: Trailers: No longer an unrewarded art form]
Trailers: No longer an unrewarded art form
Their executive director, Evelyn Brady, has no doubt that the movie trailer has now developed into a specialised art form.

She describes the movie preview as a combination of art, commerce and advertising all mixed into one.

She adds that it is an endeavour that deserves its own awards show because "we've got a culture that now talks about trailers as they would talk about TV shows, even a movie itself".

Movie marketing tool

The Golden Trailers will recognise both good and bad. Prizes will be handed out in categories including best music, best editing, best special effects, and even best titles.

Then there are the designations not intended to flatter recipients - the Golden Fleece Award for the trailer most likely to deceive, and the Dark and Stormy Night Award, which will be bestowed upon the most clichéd trailer.

The advent of trailer awards reflects the growing tendency in Hollywood to create back-slapping ceremonies for virtually every aspect of show business.

[ image: Fans queued for hours to see the Star Wars trailer]
Fans queued for hours to see the Star Wars trailer
The awards also indicate the growing prominence of trailers as a movie marketing tool - one that is often willingly embraced by cinemagoers.

We witnessed this several months ago when fans queued for hours at cinemas to pay for admission to any feature that would enable them to see the new Star Wars trailer.

It was a movie-marketer's dream come true when a trailer, which is nothing more than a glossy advertisement, develops such a strong following that people will actually hand over money to watch it.

The Star Wars trailers were major productions, with every frame and character cause for endless discussion, so there is a good chance they will be strong contenders to win Golden Trailer recognition.

The steamy tease for Stanley Kubrick's psycho-thriller Eyes Wide Shut was another example of a must-see trailer.

Beneficial effect

The stated aim of the Golden Trailers is to honour excellence and improve standards. Evelyn Brady honestly believes her show will lead to better movie previews.

[ image: The tantalising Eyes Wide Shut trailer]
The tantalising Eyes Wide Shut trailer
She optimistically notes that "once people start recognising the great trailers, the people who missed the point who made bad trailers are going to want to learn from those who are getting recognition".

To give the awards an aura of respectability the organisers have brought together a prestigious panel of judges.

Among them will be film-maker Quentin Tarantino who, with his background directing such modern classics as Pulp Fiction, should have no difficulty evaluating the visual pyrotechnics and other merits of different movies trailers.

More than a dozen other judges, including British producer Stephen Woolley, will also be casting votes on submitted works.

Promotional madness

Although the aim of the Golden Trailers is to improve trailer art, there are fears that it could lead to just more sophisticated movie hype.

[ image: Tarantino: Among the trailer judges]
Tarantino: Among the trailer judges
My own personal experience, and that of countless other moviegoers, is that the onslaught of promotional madness that now accompanies nearly every potential Hollywood blockbuster has become unbearable.

I am sure the Golden Trailers will showcase some well-crafted efforts, but do we really need to honour individuals who play such a pivotal role in escalating movie hype?

If we must have another awards show, why not one that honours those movie critics who best cut through the hype and dazzle their readers with keenly observed truths about new pictures with a style that more than matches the very best made movie trailer.

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