Tantalising shots from a film online leave fans asking for more. Teasers have changed the way filmmakers promote their films
Zero hour, May 25. The first teaser of director Venkat Prabhu’s Biryani was to be unveiled on YouTube, and excited fans of actor Karthi stayed up to see how their idol looked in the film. Within the first hour, the video crossed the magic figure of 301 views, which meant it was all set to go viral.
Kalyana Samayal Saadham’s (KSS) ‘Mella Sirithai’, the 4.29-minute song that celebrates love in the time of social networking, got 301 views in the first hour. In two-and-a-half days, it had about 46,000 hits. The film’s teaser got popular too.
Every new film, especially those starring top stars, has announced its presence in the online world with teasers. The trailers and songs follow. Teasers are the new way to gather audience attention, say filmmakers. It also costs nothing to upload them online.
Which is why, directors spend a lot of time creating eye-grabbing teasers. If director Vijay’s Thalaivaa shows actor Vijay, a man on a mission, looking towards the sea, Ajith’s untitled film (his 53rd) with Vishnuvardhan showcases the actor’s ‘cool’ side. Suriya-starrer Singam 2’s 21-second teaser reinforces the over-the-top action the franchise is known for, while KSS’s teaser promises a joy ride for family audiences.
Director Vijay says that a production house provokes audience interest with a teaser that reveals the look and feel of a film. “This especially works well in the case of films with stars, because there is a lot of expectation from fans,” he says.
In a nutshell
Vijay, who has a strong base in advertising, says it takes effort to convey the essence of a two-and-a-half-hour movie in a minute. “Ideally, a teaser should have a couple of shots, a maximum of five. It should be crisp and short.”
KSS director R.S. Prasanna still remembers the engaging trailers of Aaranya Kaandam and Soodhu Kavvum. So, when it was time to cut the teaser for his film, he decided to showcase the ‘feel good’ factor. “For the song, I used Facebook as a tool as most of us live life online. There’s an immediate connect.”
Director Bharat Bala says social media cannot be ignored. “Teasers are a great tool to engage film enthusiasts, who create a buzz around the film. It sets the momentum for a great opening.” Bharat Bala released three teasers for his Dhanush-starrer Maryan, followed by a longish trailer and songs. They generated hits crossing two million. “More than the numbers, it’s the reach I am interested in.”
The director, who has 20 years of experience in advertising, says that he wanted to tell the story of Maryan through the teasers, because no one knew what the film was all about.
The accessibility of the Net and the fact that it is a mobile medium has made it an effective promotional tool, says director Vishnuvardhan. “The only thing is a teaser should reveal, selectively. It should be true to the genre, because a horror film and a family drama call for different nuances.” Trailers and teasers should also not create a wrong impression. Thangalmeenkal director Ram says that he was very particular that the three-minute trailer reveal what the film was about — bonding between the father and daughter. “It should stay true to the story; the viewer can decide whether to watch the film or not.” A teaser and trailer, he says, should give rise to a debate about the film and keep it alive in the public mind.
Achamundu Achamundu director and KSS producer Arun Vaidyanathan says a teaser must excite the audience. “We are exploring all promotional avenues available and this is a great way out. You must ensure the teaser/trailer tempts the audience to invest time in the two-hour-odd film.”
So, when did teasers get popular? Trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai says Dhanush’s ‘Kolaveri’ triggered this trend. “That’s when the industry discovered the power of YouTube,” he says. Among the recent teasers, he rates the Arya-Nayantara-starrer Raja Rani as most interesting. “It has aroused enough curiosity that you want to know more.”
Creating a teaser is not a joke, though. “There must be a proper strategy in place,” says Bharat Bala. “Your campaign must follow a sequence; else, you will kill your product.”
Content writer and freelance movie reviewer Sai Shyam G backs this statement. He cites the examples of small-budget films Pizza and Soodhu Kavvum that had out-of-the-box teasers; they went on to become box office hits.”
But, a good teaser does not always guarantee box office success. For instance, Mani Ratnam’s Kadal. The teasers went viral and there was so much of buzz, which soon fizzled out, point out fans.
Teasers, a hit
(figures from the official uploads, excluding shares)
Singam 2: 15,82,013 hits
Thalaivaa: 11,04,420 hits
Ajith’s 53rd film: 18,60,683 hits
Biryani: 5,30, 675 hits
Raja Rani: 656,023 hits
Maryan: (trailer) 14,10,330 hits
Thangameenkal (trailer) 1,58,873 hits
301 is the magic number. After a video gets 301 hits in an hour, YouTube monitors the IP address from which the video has been posted to verify its genuineness. Then, the video invariably goes viral.
Filmmakers also stand to gain monetarily from this online popularity. Digital cinema consultant Balaji Gopal says producers can make money if they go in for ‘monetisation’. “They need to link their YouTube account with a Google AdSense account. YouTube checks the originality of the content and places advertisements on the link. It shares a percentage of revenue generated with those who have uploaded the content.” The rates reportedly start at one dollar for a thousand hits. Among the recent films that made money this way are Kadal and Paradesi, says Balaji.