Trailer Music Tip: Analyze Upcoming Movies

Christian Baczyk
February 27, 2024
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Here’s a tip I think you will enjoy if you’re a trailer music writer, or want to start writing trailer music for trailers and TV-spots, but want to know how to increase your chances of getting a placement.Usually the publisher you are producing music for will provide you with their own, specific briefing based on their current needs. But there is something you should do to increase your chances of getting your music into trailers and TV spots.Before starting the production of your new track for the publisher, I would warmly recommend to do the following:Get an overview on which upcomingmovies are scheduled to be released within the time frame of one to two years!At the end of the day you are writing music for potential advertising campaigns for these upcoming movies, so it might be smart to invest a little bit of time to get an insight into what their stories might actually be about and what their style is.Here is a link to the website that I am using for my own research of upcoming movies.Make sure to not only analyze earlier trailers and TV-spots but also the original soundtrack of that movie in case it’s a sequel.In general I highly recommend to use a spreadsheet to collect as much information as possible to create your own, personal blueprint for your upcoming trailer music productions. Something like this works great:

  • Rough summary of the story – Summarize the story in a few short sentences.
  • Mood – Describe the movie with as many moods as possible to get an idea of the overall vibe of it.
  • Style – Is it a sci-fi movie? Horror? A bright adventure? Try to figure out the style of the movie to get some idea for the instrumentation of your track(s).
  • Tempo – Is it an action movie? Then it’s clever to use a fast, more intense tempo and corresponding rhythm. Is it a romantic movie? Well, maybe slow it down a bit. Try to get an idea of what tempo would suit the story, the mood and the style.
  • Special instruments used – In case it’s a sequel, did the trailer music for the previous music feature specific sounds or remarkable instruments? If yes – try to implement a similar sound in your track(s). However, make sure to add something new to it or probably tweak it a little. You want your track to leave a fresh impression when a music supervisor from a trailer house listens to it.
  • Chord progressions – Based on all information given to this point you can now figure out what would work best. If it’s a horror movie you will probably not use typical epic chord progressions. For a dramatic/emotional movie maybe something more reflective/melancholic could work. Try to get an idea what would work best based on your previous experience with trailer music and your previous analyses.

An example

Ghost in the shell music

Let’s do an example of this.There is a movie coming out soon calledGhost In The Shell.The main story is about a cyborg policewoman who attempts to bring down a nefarious computer hacker.It’s basically a modern take on the classic anime story with the same name.Let’s try to find out what properties this movie has so we can write music that might fit it and that would also fit other similar styled movies.IMDB have already done the job for us and gives us the style of the movie:

As an overall tip: when looking at movies in a certain category, or based off old shows and movies, you can always research the old ones as well. Ghost In The Shell is an old super classic series with a lot of great music and story, so checking up the old productions can be highly valuable!If you had to write a track for an orchestral/hybrid release for your publisher, you could take this information and create a track that would work well for that specific campaign. Use this spreadsheet as your guide and blueprint while creating a new track.Keep in mind to keep the track as universally useable as possible though to not make it too specific!This method might not only increase your chance to write something which very well might place in a trailer or TV-spot ultimately, but it will also inspire you to write a new track as you already have a blueprint of the main ingredients in front of you.But as I said earlier, try to keep your trailer tracks somewhat universal to work with many other movies too – however,there’s no harm in spicing it up with some original cool sounds and going in a little more unique way!

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Christian Baczyk

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