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PODCAST: Meet Mark Woollen, Trailer Guru and Awards Season’s Secret Weapon

PODCAST: Meet Mark Woollen, Trailer Guru and Awards Season's Secret Weapon

Mark Woollen

Mark Woollen

Daniel Bergeron

You may not know Mark Woollen’s name, but thanks to his work on some of the most attention-grabbing trailers of the past twenty years, you’re probably familiar with his work. Whether it’s the subtle heartbreak of “12 Years a Slave,” the technical wizardry of “Birdman,” or one of his most recent efforts, the immersive two-minute hurricane that is the trailer for “The Revenant,” Woollen has been turning the teaser into an art form all its own. This week on Indiewire Influencers, Woollen sits down with Indiewire Editor in Chief Dana Harris for a conversation about his career in the field and what it’s like to work with such a varied list of collaborators.

Woollen’s career has now spanned multiple decades, long enough to see a shift from a time when trailers played almost exclusively in theaters to now, when they’re readily available at a moment’s notice. But the changing venues for the premiere of a trailer haven’t affected Woollen’s work as much as you might think. “If anything,” Woollen explains, “the Internet really has opened up things for immediate feedback the second a trailer drops. There’s all kinds of comments and you get your report card on how you did.”

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Working with some of the top directors in the field brings with it a unique atmosphere where Mark and his team aren’t strictly hired hands, but also have to consider a filmmaker’s literal and figurative vision. “I always feel a great responsibility with what we’re doing,” Mark says of crafting the audience’s initial window into a particular film, adding, “That trailer we make is really the world’s first introduction to their child. So you want to make it right.” 

What clichés does he avoid? And how exactly did Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” become the unofficial “Birdman” anthem? Find out by listening to the full episode above.


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