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The Making of a Video Book Trailer

What author can resist seeing a live action scene straight from his/her brand new book? Certainly not I! So when my daughter-in-law, Mica Hemingway, who writes and produces short videos for her job as video director at Frederick Christian Fellowship, suggested we put together a video book trailer for ROAD TO TATER HILL, I was ready. Of course, I knew nothing about the process.

We had to pick the scene, which I thought should be one of the opening sequences as a teaser for the rest of the book. We had to storyboard each shot within the scene, including every action and emotion, close-up, mid-range, or more distant. We had to find the right actress to play the part of my 11-year-old main character, Annie Winters, as well as an actress for the grandmother, and one for the mysterious Miss Eliza McGee. We had to find the right clothes suitable for the 1963 timeframe. We had to find a videographer and sound technician willing to film at an affordable cost (for me). We had to find instrumental music for the background and request permission to use it. We had to find the perfect location--a mountain stream--far enough from the highway to avoid traffic noise. And we had to have good weather and just the right lighting. A tall order for a less-than-two-minute video!

One by one the pieces came together over the course of a month. Haley Eargle, the granddaughter of my good friend and fellow author, Mary Bowman-Kruhm, fit the description and cover photo of Annie Winters almost too closely to be believed. My close friend, Connie LaBrush, agreed to play the part of Grandma, grieving over the death of her newborn grandchild. (Only a very dear friend would agree to do this!) We found an instrumental version of "Wayfaring Stranger" played on the mountain dulcimer by musician Larry Conger, who agreed to allow us to use it. And we found a rushing mountain stream in Cunningham Falls State Park.

John Saunders and his brother, Alan Saunders, of The Connectivity Group agreed to meet us at Cunningham Falls on Friday, August 28th to do the filming. Mica had the storyboard put together so tightly that it didn't take long to talk Haley through each scene.

The weather, however, did not cooperate. We were caught in an initial downpour while scouting out a site, and waited out a second downpour. Finally it cleared, and we moved quickly to start filming--that is, as quickly as you can while carrying heavy camera equipment nearly half a mile along a slippery, uneven trail and setting up a track for the camera to move smoothly in and out for close-ups and long shots.

Haley was a trooper, running through scenes time and again, so they could be shot at different angles and perspectives. Another storm threatened, thunder rumbled, and the light grew dimmer. Just as John and Alan set up the camera track, stretched between two boulders in the water to film the most dramatic scene of "Annie" throwing rocks into the creek and discovering the "rock baby," the sky opened and rain fell in sheets. They kept filming. No need for artificial tears or emotions. Haley, now drenched, flung rocks into the creek with vicious strength and shivered from the cold until she could finally make the trek back to the cars and wrap up in a fleece blanket.

And still we weren't finished! The opening scene inside Grandma and Grandpa's house still had to be filmed, and everyone had to be clean and dry, since it was being done out of sequence. I won't bore you with more details, but I do want to say that there is far more to film production than I was aware, and this narrative hasn't even included the editing portion, and adding voice over and music. Mica's biggest job is to seamlessly blend the scenes with the added, unplanned difficulty of transitioning from no rain to a downpour.

I am indebted to Haley for her uncomplaining perseverance! Her debut film appearance was certainly not glamorous and probably something she won't want to repeat. I'm sure she was happy to go back to being a 7th grader. I am also indebted to John and Alan Saunders for squeezing this project into their busy schedules and for sticking with it through more-than-difficult circumstances. And, to Mica, my incredibly talented and loyal daughter-in-law, thank you for your faith in my story and your countless hours of work to produce this trailer!

To the readers of our blog--I'll post a link to the video once it's available!


David LaRochelle said...

Fascinating, Edie! Thanks for a peek into the process of making a mini film. And congratulations for being ambitious enough to pull all the pieces together. I'm excited to see the trailer. Keep us informed, please, and let us know in what venues you place your trailer.

Anonymous said...

I know both book and trailer will be incredible and incredibly successful! And Edie, the story of filming is the absolute truth. What an afternoon and evening! Thanks for letting me be part of it.

Sue P. said...

Congratulations on the launch and on one more piece of the publication process in place! Thanks for the glimpse. Looking forward to the trailer debut.

Christy said...

Congrats on the new book and motion picture! Wow-a live action production. This week I will also be filming a book trailer, but it will be a much simpler affair. My publisher just wants an interview, but I plan to cut in art process shots, scenes from the book, and photos of my subject. I'm thrilled that my friend from Dreamworks will be behind the camera, figuring out lighting and angles. Can't wait to see both!

Edie said...

Thank you all for your comments! I can't wait to post the actual trailer. And, Christy, I'll look forward to seeing yours, too. How great to see an actual interview (since I still haven't met you in person) and I'm very interested in the illustration process.

By the way, Mary BK was at the filming every step of the way, too, including the soaking rain! Haley is her lovely granddaughter.

Kathleen Thompson said...

To repeat my email, Edie, congratulations to having TATER come to life! This description of making the book trailer is fascinating. The actual phrase was new to me until the Spalding reunion and I saw one there! Mica is amazing! Loved seeing the process in pictures and can't wait to see the real thing.
Love, Kathleen

Anonymous said...

Wow, Edie, I can't wait to see the trailer. This is amazing and wonderful and you so deserve so much with this book! I am always amazed by you! Lois

e said...

I can't wait to see the finished product! And I'm especially interested in reading "Road to Tater Hill"!

betsy woods said...

Edie, I stand amazed. What a wonderful marketing concept and I want to see it. Can you post the trailer or send it my way.

BookCaster Trailers said...

Congratulations on the trailer - and using live actors!

Donny Bailey Seagraves said...

Looking forward to seeing the book trailer, Edie.