Today I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Tom Lichtenheld, who illustrated and collaborated with Chris Barton on their trailer for Shark vs. Train. The video won School Library Journal's Trailee award (Publisher/Author created for elementary readers PreK-6) last year.
Additionally, Tom handled production of the trailer for Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Duck! Rabbit! He did the storyboard, and hired a Flash artist and music house.
You're an experienced art director. How did that help you in coming up with the concept for the trailers?
As much as the technical skills, what I bring from advertising is the understanding that every execution needs a strong idea at its center.
What goals did you set for each trailer? Could you describe your process in coming up with the scripts?
I try to entertain the viewer and charm them into finding out more about the book. What I do not try to do is recreate the book in video form. The only time this worked was with Duck!Rabbit!, but that book was already set up more or less as a storyboard, so it worked well. Otherwise I think it's better to convey the personality of the book and just give a hint of the storyline.
Regarding the "personality" of the books. If you could tell us what, specifically, you were trying to capture for those two, that would be helpful.
For Shark vs. Train, we were definitely going for zany. Shark and Train are blindly competitive and goofily inept, so they come off as a couple of blow-hards that are more likely to be laughed at than feared.
Any surprises or challenges along the way?
The budgets are teeny-tiny, but it's a good reminder that a powerful idea is more important than expensive production techniques. For instance, the soundtrack for the Duck!Rabbit! trailer was recorded in my nephew's closet, using a Flip camera as a tape recorder.
What software/hardware was used?
The Shark vs. Train trailer uses a lot of stock footage, and Flash is great for animation.
How would you describe an effective book trailer?
Not overly slick, doesn't take itself too seriously, and is interesting enough to live on its own. The pace and rhythm should definitely reflect the book.
TC&TF dedicates this week to book trailers, to celebrate the debut of my own (see sidebar), created by the young and talented Jesse Johnson. Tomorrow: an interview with Tina Nichols Coury, blogger- children's book author and trailer producer.
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