Making the Winter’s Light Trailer: Part 1

by M.J. Hearle

Book trailers are essentially a silly concept. Moving images and sound being used to sell a product that trades in neither. You don’t watch a book; reading isn’t a cinematic experience. It’s something much more subtly powerful. A book trailer can’t convey the tone of the writing, the language, the skill in which an author weaves his tale. At best they might be able to hit a few broad story beats and give an indication of genre. I didn’t create a trailer for Winter’s Light because it’s a smart marketing move. I did it because I was itchy to get back behind the camera and figured the book release was as good a reason as any.

My love of cinema constantly nips at the heels of my love of books. I wanted to be a filmmaker before trying my hand at writing. Can you blame me? Compare standing on set, hobnobbing with glamourous movie stars, lording over dozens of technicians and artists who are working in service of your creative vision to…sitting alone in a room, staring at a blinking cursor. Of course, now I’m a writer and have gained some perspective on the film industry, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Filmmaking is a collaborative medium and I am an intensely un-collaborative creator. I suspect if I’d ever managed to become a filmmaker I would’ve been constantly frustrated at having my stories compromised. All those studio executives and unruly actors passing on notes. In the world of words my power is absolute.

And so I am a writer who once dreamed he was a filmmaker, or a filmmaker who currently dreams he’s a writer. In either case, deciding to shoot the trailer for Winter’s Light myself did not require much deliberation; settling on a concept, however, did. For inspiration, and to get an idea of what worked and what didn’t in the world of book trailers, I jumped on YouTube. There were some pretty groovy examples out there (I love this one)  but most of them struck me as running too long and giving away far too much of the story.

I decided I didn’t want to make a trailer so much as a teaser. Something to pique the curiosity of the casual reader. As I was producing the trailer myself I was also limited by the scope of what I could potentially achieve. Having a budget of 5 bucks does not allow for extensive set building, special effects, or big casts. I had to think small. The image of Winter sitting alone on the beach holding the lodestone at the end of the first book was one I’d always found pretty evocative. Throw in a dash of mystery and magic and I had something which might work.

Now I just had to shoot it.


(Stay tuned for Part II which covers the incredibly dramatic production of the Winter’s Light Teaser Trailer)