Making trailer out of trash

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Greg Harrison is a filmmaker (his "November" was just released on DVD) who makes his living putting together trailers for CMP Film and Design, one of three companies responsible for assembling most of the trailers we see. Harrison said that when movie studios make a trailer, particularly for a movie that doesn't quite hit its mark, the rule is: Don't advertise the movie you have. Advertise the movie you wish you had. "Rarely do I work with studio marketing departments that are happy with the movie they have to sell," says Harrison, who estimates that 75% of the trailers we see are not accurate reflections of the movies they sell. "Usually, it's, `Oh. We have this piece of garbage, how are we going to save it? How are we going to cut a trailer to sell it?"'

That can range from little white lies-trailers for musicals often don't show characters singing and trailers for foreign films often don't show characters talking because that might turn off moviegoers who don't like musicals or foreign films-to the frequent complaint that trailers sometimes show scenes that are not in the finished film.

The current "Cheaper by the Dozen 2," for instance, includes a couple of such moments. But that's not necessarily an attempt to deceive. Trailers are almost always assembled before the movie is completed, so it's often impossible to know what will make it into the movie. There's a trailer in theaters now for "Dreamgirls"-a movie that hasn't even begun shooting.

-"Truth in advertising? Not in movie trailers" by Chris Hewitt, Knight Ridder Newspapers/ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 9

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