Michelle Hodkin, a new writer with an impressive Twitter presence, contacted me a few months ago about producing a book trailer ad for her new and first book The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
Since then MTV.com has picked up the trailer we made for the book, and has featured it as “an obsession.” Check out the MTV.com article about it: http://hollywoodcrush.mtv.com/2011/09/23/unbecoming-of-mara-dyer-book-trailer/
And check out all the awesome comments on our trailer on SimonSchusterVideos channel on Youtube.
Mara Dyer, as we affectionately call the project, was published by Simon & Schuster, and a few months before the release, Michelle came to me because she wanted something that would really stick out, something exceptional, something no other book would have for their advertising.
Usually book trailers are cheaply made, with photographs or simple footage and little graphics and that’s it. Here our goal was to make something truly cinematic. We wanted to give the impression that this was actually a trailer for a movie. Michelle came up with the scenes and the script that she pulled out of her book. Aaron Grant from Kelvin Productions was our producer and did a fabulous job of holding all the different aspects of this production together. I don’t know how but somehow Michelle got an amazing casting director, Daryl Eisenberg. She was responsible for casting for TV shows like “Gossip Girl” and musicals like Altar Boyz. She did such an amazing job for finding us the cast. The idea was to have a style like in the Twilight Saga movies. But I didn’t want to just copy it. We went ahead and thought how can we make this truly unique.
The Mara Dyer story (which my wife calls “a thrilling page-turner”) tells the story of a highschool girl who was involved in a tragic accident in an abandoned insane asylum with a lecherous boyfriend and Mara’s best friend. In order to help her recover, her family moves to a different state and helps her start a new life. But her conscience slowly reveals what actually happened that night, along with a weird superpower that she didn’t know she had. It’s essentially a murder mystery written for a teenage audience,.
The ending is particularly great – it reveals so much but sets the reader up nicely to want to buy a sequel, which we hope will be written soon. So if you buy the book – don’t peek at the ending before you get there!
Mara Dyer kind of lives two lives, one the unconscious one and the other a “real” one. I wanted to have this expressed in our style. That’s why I decided to go with black and white and using color to distort the reality. Michelle expressed that she wanted parts of it to look a bit like The Blair Witch Project. So we shot the asylum scenes on our phones and small cameras to have it look self-made and gritty. It was very important that we got a mixture of mystery and sexy across for the teenage audience.
We had only two days of shooting booked and it was a challenge to shoot all the different scenes under the time constraint. But proper planning can make it happen. We shot in Central Park, in a NYC hotel and in a NYC studio. Thanks to Aaron’s planning, we got everything done in time. This would not have been possible without my great assistant Josh Fleisher who helped me throughout the shoot. Not only was he very forward-thinking but he helped me to clarify some ideas and contributed creatively to the shoot.
We shot everything on the Canon 7D and some scenes on the Panasonic Lumix LX5. We used gliders and steadicam for certain scenes. The thunderstorm scenes where done in Pennsylvania when I came across a fantastic rain-free thunderstorm. It was magic.
You can watch more of our stuff here: www.ShmuelHoffman.com
And in other news, I am now listed as a Film Producer in www.filmproductionservices.info !