Here is how the honest sausage gets made…
The other thing to remember, especially with a movie like this, is to keep it simple. We could nitpick the movie to death, pointing out every plot hole and continuity error, but it’s our firm belief that no one cares or even remembers details like that for these big dumb action flicks. The trailer is there to sum up the general moviegoing experience, not take the viewer through it step-by-step. With the first draft done, it’s off to the Honest Trailer brain trust of Andy and Dan.
Predictably, Andy’s notes back are to make it more general and less sarcastic. After 50 of these it’s still difficult to avoid the deep well of sarcasm that lives at the core of every comedy writer, but the series is always better for it. While punching up the first draft in the writers room, an uncomfortable question arises: since this is the 3rd “Transformers” trailer we’ve done, are the jokes all too similar to each other? Are we starting to repeat ourselves? The answer is a begrudging ‘yes.’ But then Andy and Dan come up with a clever twist: just like the film itself, the 3rd act of our trailer will blatantly pander to Chinese audiences…in Chinese. With that change made, Dan and I do one or more passes until the script is worthy of the “Honest” name.
With the script locked, we record with the current voice of Honest Trailers, Jon Bailey. He has a recording studio at his home in Tennessee, so Dan or I will direct his performance over the phone from Los Angeles. Jon always adds a ton of comedy into the finished product simply with the inflection of his voice. The way he pronounces “boobs” can turn a lazy boob joke into one of our series catchphrases, “bewwwwbs.” We do multiple takes of every line so Dan has a lot of options for when he starts the edit. I’m told he listens to Jon’s voice so much it haunts his dreams, lucky him! Meanwhile, Andy uses the magic of social media to track down a Chinese-speaking fan who will help us out with that section. It turns out there’s no direct Chinese translation for “Yankee pigs!” so we go with “dirty old Americans.”
Armed with the honest voice-over and a digital copy of the movie, the trailer is now in Dan’s masterful editing hands. I couldn’t tell you what exactly he’s doing, but I’m sure it involves a fair amount of hotkeys and trimming. All I know is he cuts the picture first, then adds the music last after all of our edits are made. Editing is really another round of writing, especially in comedy where so much depends on timing. Dan not only has an innate sense of comedic timing, but he does an amazing job of matching visual style to the movie genre, cutting it up like an action trailer for an action movie, a romantic comedy trailer for a rom-com, etc.
With the trailer complete, our baby is offered up as a sacrificial lamb to the wolves’ den of the YouTube comment section. As the view count rises, we congratulate each other on a job well done, having made something that our viewers say is either “the best HT yet!” or “The worst. You guys have totally lost it.” or most likely, both. On to the next one!
Watch the resulting Honest Trailer below: