So the question was, how do you weave story threads like escaping abuse, dealing with Alzheimer’s, and struggling to rise out of poverty with a zombie in a wheelchair, an admiral in undies, and a tattletale toilet?
(The rest of this post will make a lot more sense if you've seen the trailer, so if you haven't had a chance to yet, here it is--all 60 seconds of it: book trailer )
For starters, I'm glad I have "boys" around to help keep me on track with the boy perspective. And I'm glad my son Connor was able to apply that to the making of the Lincoln Jones trailer.
Right up his alley.
What we used as a springboard was the text on the back of the advance reader copy (which I think will become the book's "flap copy"). And since that text is in the voice of Lincoln, I asked Listening Library (which was getting ready to record the audio book of Lincoln Jones) if the voice artist (JB Adkins) would be willing to record the book trailer script. He was, and did, and his recording dictated the storyboard and became the thread that tied the whole project together.
Connor wanted to record as much original video footage as possible, so we scouted out locations and props that would support the storyboard. I borrowed a CPR doll from friends at the school where I used to teach, got a wheelchair, and headed for the bushes.
Sounds like a Sammy Keyes caper, doesn't it?
Well, it was kinda like that. Pushing a CPR doll in a wheelchair through parks? Behind buildings at schools that were "closed" for summer break? Through a campground?
Same with the tattletale toilet. It was a total Sammy Keyes move.
Done (shhh) at a Denny's.
(Their toilets were just better than ours, okay?)
We did have the courtesy to order two Grand Slams before doing the deed, but yeah, it was a total Sammy Keyes outing.
And yes, we cruised Goodwill. Connor kept telling me to be cool. Apparently I am not cool or sly when getting footage inside (or outside) of Goodwill. (Or, probably, ever.) He kept his distance. Made a lot of disapproving noises when I got too close. Ditched me.
What can I say? Crutches in a corner get me all excited.
Besides shooting footage in the field, Connor also did a very complicated conversion of some digital footage I'd taken over three years ago. He wanted to get that grainy effect of it being played on an old analog TV. So even though the "real zombie in a wheelchair" and the scene where Lincoln's talking about where he goes after school go by in a flash in the video, it took a long time to get that right.
We collected so much footage. Hours of it. (Do any of you recognize the graveyard scenes?) But in the end, a snip here, a snip there is all we used because Connor kept the focus on what kids like: short, fast, surprising, funny.... And he stressed that it's better to have someone want to see the video again than be bored of it by the end.
Then, when it was all paced out the way he liked it, Connor recorded a guitar melody to round things out. The music gives a sense of movement forward which also contributes to how fast the video seems to fly by.
In summary, I'd be lying to say it was easy, but it sure was fun! Connor's presently working on a book trailer for the reissue of Runaway--something I'll tell you about another day!
Next week (or sometime soon) I'm hoping I'll have a post for you from JB--"the voice of Lincoln Jones." I know I'm looking forward to hearing what it was like for him to get into the voice of Lincoln Jones and be behind the microphone, recording an audio book. Should be fascinating!
Until then, see you in the comments!