Watch this trailer.
Bill Murray says,
"The future isn't just something that happens. It's a brutal force with a great sense of humour that'll steam roll you if you're not watching."
The moment he finished that line, I felt that sudden, addictive, intravenous surge of story that makes me love trailers.
In 2-3 minutes, you're introduced to the broken, tragicness of where a character is and in short, concise snippets carefully soundtracked on cue, said character finds what we're all trying to find.
Redemption, love, risk, triumph...
They make it.
They get the girl.
They get the second chance, the job, the reconciliation, the adventure, the lesson they had been ducking their whole life.
They get whatever is they were lacking in minute 0:00 to about 0:30.
I read this Donald Miller book about story a few years ago and it actually and deeply changed the way I live my life.
They took Miller's life and started formatting it for a movie. As the necessary benchmarks for a movie were made known, he noticed a direct parallel. The components that make a story great, make a life great. All the parts are the same.
It's actually pretty incredible. And simple.
Sitting on these two ideas, what makes trailers good and what makes a story good, I wondered, "If someone were to make a trailer out of my story, my life, would I want to watch it?"
Would I ask the hard questions?
Would the audience get a true and cut throat idea of who I am?
Would I be vulnerable?
Would what I want, what I'm pursuing, be apparent and obvious?
Would people root for me?
Would people be inspired or moved?
Would people understand what I am fighting for?
Would the audience be bored to tears or press esc a third of the way through?
Would there be uncomfortable, nervous scenes?
Would there be a sense of accomplishment?
Would there be scenes where you can see the truth sink into my eyeballs while I sit on some curb while an instrumental Aural Method tune knocks it into your memory?
"If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn't cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn't tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you'd seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you'd feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.
But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with out lives won't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either."
The basis, the absolute bottom line of any story, any movie, is, "a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it."
So I guess it's worth asking:
What do you want and are you overcoming conflict to get it?
Would you want to watch your story summed up in a trailer?
Think about it.