Anton Volkov: The Serial Trailer Maniac Behind TrailerTrack
Here at JUMPCUT we’re huge fans of Anton and his work, and have had the pleasure of knowing him since before TrailerTrack’s birth, so we thought we’d chat with the man himself about trailers, films, and his time a UCL Film Society President!
TS: For those who may not know you from Twitter, or are learning of the face behind Trailer Track for the first time reading this, would you like to introduce yourself:
AV: Sure – I’m Anton, I’ve just finished my final year at university and have been running this little site called TrailerTrack for the past couple of years now, as well as appearing here and there on social media’s filmy circles.
TS: Starting with your brilliant work over at TrailerTrack –I know you’re a self-confessed serial trailer maniac, but how did the birth of TT come about?
AV: I guess it’s several things, really. Firstly, I’ve had a real fascination with trailers and how film marketing for such a long time; and secondly the sort of stuff that I share on TrailerTrack now I and several others have already been sharing on Twitter. And there were people who at the time have started to ask, why not have a dedicated site for this? Then one day, at the start of the summer holidays two years ago, I decided to go ahead and make a Twitter account for TT and I guess the rest is history…
TS: The TT Twitter account recently broke the 12k follower mark (Congratulations!) – What would you say has been your most enquired about trailer since you started it 2 years ago?
AV: Well, thank you! I believe it may be a tie between the first Justice League and Avengers: Infinity War trailers…the latter especially has been behind a lot of activity on the account, with all the rumours popping up every few weeks following that extended footage being shown at San Diego Comic-Con and D23 this time last year. Even though all these messages can be a lot to handle, there is a certain satisfaction you get from interacting with everyone, after all we are all alike in being fans who are really looking forward to getting these first looks.
TS: What’re your top three trailers of 2018 so far? And what about them makes them top three material?
AV: That’s a tough one as there have been so many good ones, especially really recently! If I had to pick three at the moment, in release date order: the Super Bowl debut trailer for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the Deadpool 2 Meet Cable piece and the Suspiria teaser. That M:I trailer is really a perfect marriage of just enough story, great music choice (even though I’m not usually a fan of mainstream music in trailers but this case works so well), and a kick-ass edit. The Deadpool one I love because of how subversive it is and how well it acts as both a funny original piece as well as a really good teaser in its own right. Suspiria is an ideal tease, giving just enough visuals, little/no story (yet you get the basic premise and who the leads are) and an atmosphere which at least appears to be of the film itself – particularly with the Thom Yorke score from the film.
TS: What are you 3 most anticipated upcoming film trailers? (announced or unannounced)
AV: That’s a really hard one because there are so many films coming, and some that haven’t been shot yet! If I had to pick one though that’s bound to be out by the end of the year, Avengers 4 would be it. That’s probably going to be the most highly-anticipated brand new trailer launch of 2018, with Solo already behind us and all. In terms of second/third trailers for films that have already had their first looks, I’m really excited to see more from First Man and Suspiria, both of which are the films I’m most looking forward to for the remainder of the year.
TS: In your personal opinion, what elements are needed to make a ‘good’ trailer.
AV: Most importantly, a great music/background audio choice as that’s almost always what drives the trailer. Then, actually feeling of a piece with the film itself, not necessarily in terms of being representative of the film in terms of story but in terms of atmosphere, the music, the editing style to some extent, even things like graphic/typography design. And lastly is the story element, which will depend on what sort of trailer you’re cutting – a teaser or a full piece – but point is that it should show just enough of the basic premise and of who the main characters are without giving things away as well as obviously leaving the viewer wanting more!
TS: As well as watching trailers, you also create your own. Are there any key elements you make sure each of your trailers have?
AV: Nearly always before editing I put together the music, which in turns provides me with the general structure, sometimes agonising over a long time about it. A recent fan edit for the last James Bond film, Spectre, I had in my mind for so long but didn’t get around to editing it until a short while ago because I couldn’t find the right music. Then once I have that everything else tends to come together nicely. When editing trailers for movies that have already been released the central idea almost always tends to be about staying authentic to the film itself, what I mentioned previously about a trailer ‘feeling of a piece’ with it, being cut from the same cloth. I also always like to go deep on the details that make the trailer stand out as ‘official’ – official-looking typography, title treatments, credits, even that green-band MPAA card.
TS: Do you have any starting tips for any of our readers who might want to start creating their own trailers?
AV: As many filmmakers would say, it’s so easy to start with software you already have, such as iMovie which is what I started out on. And secondly, try and have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with what you’re putting together. More often that not I already have the piece I want to cut – at least the general structure and the score – playing in my head before sitting down to edit. As with so many things, if you have a clear direction it makes it so much easier to sit down and knock stuff out. And one more thing is source material quality – as I mentioned previously about trying to make it feel official-looking, this is a huge part of it – it can be as simple as downloading a good quality version of the trailer off iTunes Trailers or the official YouTube channel of the studio or film as opposed to a different site and making sure the frame rates match and so on.
TS: You recently finished your run as UCL Film Society President, can you tell us what you enjoyed most about being President, and being a part of the Film Society in general.
AV: For those who don’t know, the Film Society over at UCL is one of if not the oldest university-based film societies in the UK – we turned 70 this year which is a huge milestone for us. And we do such a wide range of things, from screening films weekly to actually making as many as 5 short film productions each year, as well as running a blog/podcast and hosting guest speakers from the industry. What I really loved about my time there is being able to put my own stamp on it while pushing the envelope out further in terms of what the society does. As well as – of course – having the opportunity to meet the likes of Christopher Nolan (who ran the society in the 90s when he was a student at UCL and returned to the university last September to receive an honorary degree) and Tim Bevan, whom we hosted for a Q&A event earlier this year; and partnering together with the teams at Curzon, Picturehouse and Raindance on special events and offers.
TS: You became my most envied person on Twitter when you posted the below image towards the end of last year. Can you tell us a little bit about what is was like meeting Christopher Nolan?
AV: Absolutely surreal, meeting him and Emma Thomas was a very special opportunity. As I mentioned, they returned to UCL to receive an honorary degree and the alumni office at the university arranged for myself and my predecessor to take part in this by showing him our studio space on campus, where Nolan actually produced his early short films as well as edited Following (we still have the 16mm Arri camera and Steenbeck editing suite that was used on that film)! It was great to chat to him and Emma about their time at UCL and what the society did then and now, as well as briefly about Dunkirk and his other films – a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
TS: Whilst we’re talking Nolan – if you were only allowed to watch ONE of his films ever again, which one would you pick and why?
AV: Interstellar, simply because I’m an absolute sucker for space films, as well as sci-fi in general. While some may argue it’s not Nolan’s strongest film, it’s absolutely my favourite. As some probably know I’m a huge fan of the IMAX format and seeing it on those huge screens in 70mm film was quite an experience. I was also lucky enough to see it with the score, including the organ, performed live in front of an audience of nearly 6,000, and that probably remains my all-time favourite moviegoing experience.
TS: If you could sit and have a meal with 3 famous faces from the world of film, who would you invite?
AV: That’s a really tough one…especially as I’d want to choose faces that aren’t necessarily famous, not just directors/actors/crew members but those on the other side.
TS: I’d be remiss not to ask what your favourite film of 2018 is so far?
AV: By far, Annihilation. After watching it on Netflix upon its release I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen and it is absolutely enthralling, with chilling performances and a story and visuals that will stay in your mind for a long time. It’s a shame that things worked out the way they did with that film, but again – so lucky to have managed to see it as intended by Alex Garland and co.
We’d like to thank Anton once again for taking the time to chat with us. We’re sure he’ll be kept very busy over the next few weeks as film Twitter prepares for SDCC and all the film goodies we’ll be treated to!
Be sure to follow TrailerTrack over on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest trailers and trailer announcements!