A while ago I wrote a few pieces on theatre trailers and a few days ago I received an email from The Wooster Group saying they’d like me to talk to them about it. Which is exciting, if a little belated (watch out for that interview on a DIFFERENT subject coming out soon). BUT why am I wittering on about all this you may very justifiably ask…?!
WELL… it reminded me that I had this gorgeous set of Q&A’s languishing in My Documents which is a crime because Phil’s responses are too interesting for just little old me to have seen them.
So I’ve decided to share them in their entirety…I know it’s quite long but please do read on, he jolly well knows his stuff.
What is the ethos behind theatre trailers for you. What’s their job?
The holy grail of marketing has always been that much-talked-about, but often little-understood phenomenon: word of mouth. Until relatively recently, this might have spread though phone calls, conversations in pubs and so-on, but as we all know, nowadays what we’re really talking about is online sharing through social media. For me, video trailers are the most effective tool to facilitate personal recommendations - people are much more likely to share a video with their friends than a web page with copy explaining what a show is all about, and therefore by offering video content, you’re giving audiences the tools they need to become ambassadors for your production or your venue.
I recently attended a conference where someone quoted an incredible figure: we are now watching 11,000 years of online video every month in the UK alone, with sharing of video content growing exponentially in volume and speed. As arts marketers, we need to tap into the huge potential of this, both to sell tickets for our shows and to engage audiences in new ways.
What type of trailer have you found works most successfully?
As with all marketing, the focus should be about clear communication. A colleague of mine remarked recently that a lot of theatre trailers are now produced to look like film trailers – super-quick edits, a focus on action over depth and so on. But whereas film marketing often takes this overtly opportunistic approach to marketing, as arts organisations we need to build trust and long-term relationships with our audiences, and so this approach can be really damaging for audience development.
For me, the goal with online video marketing creative is to remove the element of risk for the potential booker, to give audiences a clear and full insight into the show they’re thinking about booking. They can also be a chance to give audiences a deeper insight into the artist or the work, or even compliment the work itself. This is absolutely the case with our promo films for PolarBear’s upcoming show.
I think it’s also important when creating film content around a production that collaboration is encouraged between the artist and the filmmaker. This is the key to creating something that sits between a traditional marketing trailer and purely creative output, which is where we feel the PolarBear films sit. We’re also lucky enough to have an in-house production team here at the Roundhouse which allows to to pursue this kind of collaborative approach to content production.