If you’ve not seen the trailer for Bad Apple, my dark emerging YA thriller coming from Vagabondage Press Books this September 25, here it is.
Believe it or not, people have been asking me how I did it, so here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how it was made.
My initial concept was to use video of a teddy bear being crushed under the items of adulthood: originally, I had a cookbook as one item, a dish as another, and was going to make a fake “brochure” for the glitzy resort at which Scree arrives and toss that down, too. Then, believe it or not, I was going to douse it all with water or fire (crazy, right)? Somehow, the original concept morphed: it changed to a shower of kids’ toys and a barrage of apples.
One thing that never changed was that I wanted a music box as the soundtrack. Something normal, though, nothing in a minor key that would be too obviously creepy. It needed to be creepy in a very subtle way. If it was normal, it’d be creepier than if I deliberately tried to use something made to sound creepy. It also needed to be something ultra-familiar, that everyone would recognize. I figured I could purchase Brahms’ “Lullaby” legally royalty-free, and I was right (I know from my years in theatre that the key is to look for sound effect albums).
Next, I created all the title cards and the text (although that was tightened again and again as the process moved forward).
Then I went into the garage and got the teddy bear I had in mind: my Nana had made it (she loved to crochet and made us everything from stuffed toys to pocketbooks to clothes). I used the teddy bear to shoot some test footage to see if I could get the falling bear effect to work the way I had envisioned, and also to figure out how many seconds would work best: I was really insistent on keeping it to as close to one minute as possible (after all, film and television trailers are kept at 30 seconds to one minute for a reason. Anything longer than that, you might lose your viewer). I built the trailer around the false footage, so that all I had to do once the final was shot was insert, clip to the right timing and add titling. Here’s that test footage.
The falling bear effect was going to work exactly as I’d imagined. However, I couldn’t film and be the one throwing the items. I needed help, so I asked my friend Michele, who was going to furnish some of her daughter’s old toys. What was hilarious is that a couple of these toys I had when I was a kid—and are described in Bad Apple.
The night of the shoot I went to buy apples. I swear I’d never seen Shop Rite have so many varieties—and they looked so pretty I was instantly disappointed I didn’t have my camera in my bag. I bought three of each. What was hilarious was that I didn’t keep the varieties separated, and as they were all different prices, the kid at the check-out was overwhelmed having to do them all one at a time.
I went to the car – and I did have my camera, after all. So I went back into the store and shot these photos.
Then I realized I’d missed a couple of varieties. I was also suddenly inspired to make a documentary of the development, writing of and execution of Bad Apple, so I started filming myself. Yeah, I know, dumb. I did it anyway. Here’s what I shot in the store.
Michele arrived with the bag of toys, and first we had to get all the stickers off the apples.
What was also fun was that, since she didn’t have one in her daughter’s toys, she’d bought a child’s ball (I’d specifically asked her for one—I was going to attempt to recreate a special effect I had done for Woman in Black back in 1998). I couldn’t remember how to do it. She figured it out.
We were ready. Here are some false attempts (we shot it four times, although it might have been more).
Here’s the final footage—shoot number 5—that was later edited and manipulated to create the final product.
Some notes on the final: I chose a washed-out black and white footage for two reasons: I wanted something “ghostly,” that suggested something deep in the past, but also something light enough that the text could be read easily. Fitting the text into blocks that were readable against the background footage was the most difficult part of the process.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the making of the trailer for Bad Apple!