Story Consultant Fernanda Rossi answered the following question for our NALIPsters in anticipation of the upcoming program Doing your Doc to take place in Durham, NC, October 14-16. In addition to the two full day workshops on story structure and trailers, funders and industry professionals will be in attendance for lectures and one-on-one mentorship sessions. All info and registration online here.
Q: What's the difference between a fundraising demo and a marketing trailer beyond the obvious purpose?
Fernanda: Fundraising and marketing trailers are very VERY different. At the dawn of fundraising trailer history, some 10 years ago, people thought that a sample was a cross between a music video and a film preview. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
A fundraising demo has to convince a few people to spend a long time with you and a lot of money on the film, so there better be a story somewhere there. The marketing trailer has to entice a huge number of people to commit a few hours and little to no-money; in that case eye candy goes well with the popcorn.
Therefore a fundraising sample is more like a short without an ending: it has full scenes revealing excerpts of the story to-be and a cliffhanger in the end to imply potential for a longer story. On the other hand, the marketing trailer also known as a film preview is more like a music video: catchy sound bites, flashy montages and graphics. The main goal is to dazzle prospective lay audiences not to reassure investors and funders.
Having said that, crowfunding is blurring the line of what's fundraising and what's marketing. Such demos do both, they raise money as well as awareness on an upcoming film. Striking a balance is key in making the story viable yet wow these first viewers. As if documentarians needed another challenge!
About Fernanda Rossi: Internationally renowned speaker and story consultant Fernanda Rossi has doctored over 300 films, including Academy Award nominees(R) The Garden, by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and Recycled Life, by Leslie Iwerks; as well as hundreds of trailers, many of which received funding from ITVS, NYSCA and NFB. She is the author of the book that, according to industry professionals is the bible on demo production: Trailer Mechanics: A Guide to Making your Documentary Fundraising Demo.