In this post, though I want to briefly talk about Fan trailers, and the definition of fan trailers. Specifically however, I want to explore as best I can, the emerging phenomena that are, ‘Russian Trailers’. So before I begin, I need a hefty caveat: my Russian language skills are not good, in fact they're almost non-existent and this research is done purely at a theoretical and somewhat superficial level until my Russian speaking colleagues are able to contribute to the project, but not being one to shy away from a challenge here are some thoughts so far.
Identified as ‘Русский трейлер’ or Russian Trailer, these short films are appearing across YouTube and appear to be real world footage edited together to replicate editing and communicative conventions of specific film trailers.
Интерстеллар : Русский трейлер /Interstellar - Russian trailer
Война миров Z : Русский трейлер / World War Z – Russian trailer
Tитаник : Русский трейлер/ Titanic - Russian trailer
Across these forms are the conventions of fan made trailers, use of studio logos to set up a trailer, voice overs taken straight from 'authentic' trailers, on some rare occasions even the modifying of footage from the source film. Yet the overwhelming unifying characteristics of these trailers are a titular reference to a movie Titanic, World War Z, etc and the use of themed real world footage to compose the 'trailer'.
That these trailers appear on YouTube itself can be said to hold most of the traits of the fan made trailer, and indeed as we'll see videosharing is at the heart of these trailers.
Overall the connections between the trailer and the Russian trailer can be difficult to explain so let me illustrate:
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(NB, the trailer on the right has an English language Voice-over, though this link does not it would be interesting to know what if any differences there are between the two Russian Trailers, they are both identical in terms of the footage used.
We can see even at this early stage of research a unilateral connection between these ‘fan’ trailers and the film industry trailers. There appears to be a borrowed set of conventions, and the links with the title alone are enough to frame the 'real world' footage in a new manner. Yet there is a sense of technology, and human endeavour dominating the Russian Trailer, in keeping with the themes of the movie Interstellar.
Ok so 'Russian Trailers' are a phenomenon, great... but taking this study further poses a linguistic and archival challenge. Are these ‘fan made’ Russian trailers replicating an 'authentic' Russian movie trailer with real world footage, - given the image of man spinning on a wheel (52 seconds in), this seems unlikely. So how do we understand these trailers?
Though despite looking I am unable to find any verified Russian trailers for the movies in question. We know that Trailers are tailored for international audiences and that this means different footage may appear in different marketing campaigns; as an article in Sight & Sound in 1998 points out and as a quick comparison of national marketing campaigns may indicate trailers posters and even stars are constructed in different ways for different markets, yet these trailer don't seem to be the typical fan trailer - re-editing an existing work to subvert it. These Russian Trailers are typically taking previously existing footage, notably it seems to come from a predominantly Eastern perspective based on language cues from road signs to dialogue. Yet on some occasions there appears to be a replication of specific film trailers, other times not which brings into question how we define ‘fan trailers’. Consider the Titanic Trailer in relation to Interstellar, the connections between Titanic and it's Russian Counterpart seem to be strong at a thematic level if nothing else while the Interstellar connection seems more tenuous at least to this 'casual' observer removed from cultural context.
These are not trailers selling nor promoting any product in a conventional sense, so we can exclude them from the canon of industry originating trailers.
They are clearly referencing existing trailers and movies so we could consider them, as Bridget Kies writes in her blogpost, as a fan response to the industry but instead of subverting existing materials directly through re-editing or splicing, or pre-empting forthcoming trailers with one of their own, these Russian trailers sit somewhere in the middle: creating an entirely new discontinuous narrative from real-world footage. So despite neither mashing up, nor attempting to be an authentic trailer, these trailers exist within the cultural cinematic context of specific movies; much like a Fan-made trailer, as Kathleen Williams writes. Yet these trailers appear not to be 'articulations of audience desire' for a specific movie, rather, the movie provides a theme by which a compilation is made, making these instead a celebration of collective knowledge of both a film's broad narrative and thematic construct on the one hand, of technical expertise in editing, and Russian Video culture on the other. It seems to me, albeit in my limited knowledge of context that these trailers are celebratory in nature, drawing thematic connections between videosharing culture through real world footage and the wider context of the film itself forms the purpose, which sits somewhere in middle of the wider discussions of fan-made trailers.
Yet, the reliance on what appears to be Russian footage, (I am reliably informed by my Russian Speaking colleagues this is broadly the case) surely has some form of political message within it, even it is in the form of a celebration of Russian video culture. So do we consider these trailers to be a form of social or political commentary?
It is possible then that object of Fandom here is Russian Video culture itself, and/or the film being linked but without further study (and an improved knowledge of Russian) it is nearly impossible to tell.
It is clear, however that significantly more work is needed if I'm to understand these trailers but for now enjoy Step Up 3D - Russian Trailer - Шаг вперед 3D - Русский трейлер.