Wes Anderson Trailer / Student Project

Posted by Alex

Video Link

It’s hard to believe, but somehow my spring semester is coming to a close this week. The film festival project, which I’ve written about previously, finally has all pieces completed and accounted for. The last element added into the mix was a festival trailer (shown above). Originally, I planned to create a few more ancillary products to flesh out the brand, but these fell through and I had to move on the trailer option late in the game. I teamed up with my friend Phil Mills, a local actor here in San Francisco, and we set about writing, shooting, and editing the film last Sunday afternoon.

We were allowed to base the trailer on just about anything we wanted, so long as it advertised our hypothetical film festival and carried through the visual style of our brand. There were a multitude of directions this could take; we thought the most fun way would be to shoot a Royal Tenenbaums-esque short, and then just throw as much craziness as we could at it. Phil plays T. Allen Fenway, a fictional character we made up to live in our Wes Anderson film festival world. We wanted it to remind you of Wes Anderson, make you laugh, and eventually turn you on to the festival. The 3rd person narrator, use of Futura Bold for all titles, extravagant setting, and full blown randomness were all utilized to aid in conjuring this look and feel.

The equipment for this project was sort of all over the place. I luckily had a video camera lying around (usually relegated to filming stationary Youtube videos) and I figured I might as well take it out for a real test drive on this project. I used the Panasonic PV-GS250; an older handheld consumer camcorder that doesn’t have much in the way of image quality, especially compared to the newer HD models. I considered renting a Panasonic HPX-170, but was deterred by the expensive daily rental rate. I figured I’d make it work with the little guy and try my best to fix things up in post. I had also recently purchased a continuous tungsten lighting kit and this helped with the indoor shots greatly. (I am planning to do a post on video lighting after some more tests.)

I edited this project using iMovie ’08, the disastrous upgrade to iMovie HD. I had never used the upgrade before and was very disappointed to find that the program had basically been downgraded into an almost unusable trainwreck. (No waveform mixing!?) I had to stick with it, for the increased flexibility with titles, but it was not a pretty sight. Once the project was edited and all cut together, I procured Final Cut Pro (sadly too late to edit with) and Color. I sent the final output through Color and it was a great help in getting the trailer to look the way it does. Color is an amazing application and I feel like I just scratched the surface of its capability. It basically provides the same color editing functionality you have in Photoshop for still images, but for video. I worked on each shot individually, and first tried to clean up the stale color the camcorder captured, and then tweak it just enough to provide that timelessness of Wes Anderson films. Of course, the program’s power is limited by the image quality of the camera, so some edits weren’t possible without destroying the integrity of the image. (Exposure or saturation edits for example looked terrible.) The basic color editing functions (below) were enough to give the final product the look I was hoping for.


I had done a few test shots and some basic story-boarding prior to the shoot, but we were pretty much shooting from the hip the whole time. Phil is a great actor and he knew exactly what I was going for with this project. As we are both avid Wes Anderson fans, we didn’t have to do too much in the way of research or planning prior to the shoot. The order in which we completed the trailer was probably completely backwards (we wrote it after we shot it) but it ended up working out and provided us with many a happy accident. Despite the fact that this part of the project was not “graphic” design in the traditional sense, it was definitely the most fun, and my favorite part of the semester.

Video Link

50 Comments Leave A Comment


michael says:

May 11, 2009 at 5:21 am

man that is excellent! very nice work and its very very much like andersons work. you guys captured his essense really well!


Ben says:

May 11, 2009 at 6:10 am

The trouble is, Alex, that you’ve done such a great job on the various elements for this project, I’m really disappointed that this isn’t an actual film festival. Great work.


gerwin says:

May 11, 2009 at 6:14 am

This looks great. You’ve really translated the visual style of the campaign to film. I’m often surprised by how much can be done using the simplest of tools in Color.


Rob says:

May 11, 2009 at 6:56 am

Excellent work man – promoting a festival in the style of the director! Love it.

I just got back from ATP Festival in Minehead, UK where I saw Devo! Small world :)


Jorsh says:

May 11, 2009 at 9:29 am

Scott, I love you, but lord have I ever gotten tired of watching people ape Wes Anderson.


neeta says:

May 11, 2009 at 9:44 am

great job! i can appreciate that you did it all the sunday afternoon before it was due…


Lylyan says:

May 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

Alex… what else can I say? You successfully made all your classmates feel bad (including me) XD… Great job!


hunter says:

May 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm

lylyan: don’t look at it as a “shame on me for not doing work as nice as this”, but instead a “wow, now i’m really inspired o do some kick-ass work of my very own”…

there’s lots of great things about this piece, but the best bit is that alex reached outside his typical (print/web) skill set, located folks that could help him do it and executed a piece in an almost prototypical fashion — rough, ready and right — while maintaining a linked vision to the overall project… so, yes: great piece, but the process and story behind it is hopefully what will inspire you.

otherwise, phil/t. allen smokes a lot — but just pipes and cigs. so much that it seemed to be a “thing”, but one not yet fully realized. perhaps it would have been neat to have him smoking different (legal) things throughout the piece: cigars, pipe, bidi, clove, hand-rolled… and maybe branching out into dip, chewing tobacco, etc… i mean if you’re gonna give yourself mouth/throat/lung cancer, you might as well go all out, right?


Mikewan Bear Pilon says:

May 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I was born on a Greyhound bus in Northern Saskatchewan bound for Churchill and I am estranged from my father and drown my life in obscure academics. I shit you not this trailer is eerily close to similar circumstances in my life. I really dig this piece not only for it’s being a great piece of work but also because it’s ridiculously close to home. I laughed so hard just at the strange co-incidences. Thanks man, it made my day.

Tansi Kiya! ᐊᔨᓯᐁᐧᐸᐣ


diki says:

May 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm

nice work! would you be so kind to disclose the title and artist of the music you’ve been using on this video? it’s quite shamefully absent from the credits.


alex says:

May 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Dalton- The few seconds of the high pitched tone at the beginning are part of the film leader. You don’t see them much anymore, but I’ve always thought they were pretty awesome. They were meant to ensure enough time was left at the start of a film to give the projector enough time to warm up. The high pitched sound, known often as a two-pop, was part of this process. Technically you aren’t “supposed” to see it, but I think it looks cool when you do. I used (and slightly altered) this one under the CC license:

Mikewan- That is crazy! I love a good coincidence like that. If we make a sequel, we’ll just ask you for what comes next haha

diki- The song is “Gut Feeling” by Devo. It appeared on the “Life Aquatic” soundtrack and it was between this and the song “Loquasto International Film Festival.” They each put a very different spin on the trailer and I ended up choosing the Devo song for some of the musical cues. (where the drums come in, the vocal part at the end, etc)


Kirk says:

May 11, 2009 at 3:50 pm

i was going to say, if Forrest wasn’t the first one on here, i would be displeased.

Very nice piece, captures Wes exactly, gotta love him


Landonr says:

May 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I’m excited to hear about your great knowledge of Saskatchewan! It’s my ‘home province’.


jheftmann says:

May 12, 2009 at 10:37 am

nice work.

I have to say, though, I find all the negative press the new version of iMovie has gotten to be unfair and completely misdirected. If you want to edit waveforms don’t blame the software. You’re simply using the wrong application. It’s not designed for that kind of user. It achieves what and whom it’s designed for brilliantly – better, in fact, than iMovieHD.


Justin says:

May 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

This is awesome, jealousy-inspiring work. One tiny thing: I know it’s for a fake festival, but the park in Austin is called Zilker, not Ziller.

But still. Awesome. :)


Random_Tangent says:

May 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Hey Alex!

Just a vocabulatory heads up!

The high pitched tone at the head of this clip is a line-up tone. It’s a 1KHz tone that should be -18db. It’s there to make sure your levels are good. Yours sounds like the tape is still getting up to speed and that’s why it’s all wobbly.

A 2-Pop is a 1-frame bloop that comes (originally) from a hole punched through the 2-frame on Academy leader (which means 2 seconds until the first frame of action). It’s to make sure your sound and picture are lined up.

This is the first time in two years that I’ve gotten to dust off my film school degree and wave it around in the air. Yay me.

Hope I was helpful and not condescending!


Lys says:

May 13, 2009 at 11:19 am

“The moment a man begins to talk about technique that’s proof that he is fresh out of ideas.”

– Raymond Chandler


Dalton says:

May 14, 2009 at 6:24 am

@alex That’s really cool, I didn’t know that. Now that I know that I can appreciate it, but you have to think if your audience is knowledgeable enough about old film to make that concession.

Maybe it’s due to it being on the web, but as soon as I heard it I paused the video to stop it. I didn’t go back and get through it until I saw the heaps of praise from all the other commenters.