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Attention, Filmmakers: Ron Howard’s Tips on How to Win His Trailer Contest

Attention, Filmmakers: Ron Howard's Tips on How to Win His Trailer Contest

Ron Howard is once again partnering with Canon for a contest designed to highlight everyday creativity. Inspired by the notion that anything in life can be a movie (and every movie starts with a trailer), “Project Imagination – The Trailer” will launch a contest on February 25 in which filmmakers of every skill level can create and submit trailers of their everyday life moments. The winning trailer, selected by Howard and actor Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games”), will inspire a short film, which Hutcherson will star in and produce.

READ MORE: “House of Cards” Producer Dana Brunetti on How to Break Into the Industry

The contest kicks off on February 25th at imagination.usa.canon.com, where you can also find Howard’s tips for creating a trailer (and a trailer for the trailer contest!).

Indiewire recently spoke to Howard about Project Imagination, movie trailers and opportunities for aspiring filmmakers:

Why focus on movie trailers?
I think this third iteration [of Project Imagination] is easier to tackle. It’s a little more playful. But it still does this thing that I love about Project Imagination, which is it invites people to explore their creativity. In this call to take your images, take your videos and shape them into a trailer that could inspire a short Hollywood film, I’m hoping that people use their everyday lives for inspiration. Instead of sitting down and trying to script something, just go out and start shooting and then review what you shot, whether it’s video or still photographs. Just enjoy it and allow yourself to discover this story that is taking shape before your eyes and then enhance it. Then if you have to go out and shoot another shot or two to build it up, great. But I think people will be very surprised by what their home movies or still photographs inspire. The kid’s birthday party may end up looking a little like a horror film!
Is this contest geared to aspiring filmmakers or to people who have never picked up a camera or both?
Both, but I really hope that the short form nature of this encourages the idea that it’s not something that necessarily has to reflect a lot of discipline. It’s more about capturing what’s around you, and what inspires you and what kind of a story you think you could suggest through the images in your life. So I’m really hoping that a lot of people who wouldn’t normally want to tackle a creative experiment like this get involved.
Do you have any tips for people who want to apply to the contest?

We’re really inviting people to open up the blinders, shoot a little bit more than you normally would and look around you, because there’s the subject of your attention but there’s also the rest of your life and the rest of your world and your surroundings. I think that if you just start noticing that, first of all, it’s going to make your day a little more interesting. But you’ll also surprise yourself with some of the images that you collect. I think that can be the spark for an idea for a trailer.
In the end, all I’m saying is, just take yourself that much more seriously. And think about your composition. Keep the camera a little steadier. Notice the light. Be more aware visually of what’s going on in your world. Maybe there’s some unbelievable clouds on the horizon, maybe there’s a fantastic sunset taking shape. Take a second, capture that, you might be able to use it. And if you’re more thoughtful about what you’re doing then you’re gonna have some good images and good moments to think about editing together and of course, that’s where the magic always happens. Play with some great music, play with some voice-over and have fun with it. 
What feelings can your create out of your own life? If somebody wants to script something and drive somewhere to shoot a particular set of images, great, that’s fine. I’m just suggesting that the way I would play it would be much more free-form and then take inspiration from that. I think that might be the most surprising approach. Because you may end up making a trailer for a movie for a genre that you never would have thought of applying yourself to. That would be fun. 
Do you think this is a good way for aspiring filmmakers to get attention?
Absolutely. The previous two iterations generated quite a bit attention and I think we’ve created fantastic creative experiences for everyone who got involved. And that’s kind of what’s amazing about the Internet and YouTube is that the answer is ‘yes’ to all of that. When you create something, you express yourself, you put it out there and it’s very low risk. You never know, you kind of cast your creative net and if something clicks, absolutely it would be meaningful to a young filmmaker. 

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