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Golden Trailer kudos: short and sweet

Awards show prides itself on finishing early

How do the Golden Trailers differ from just about every other awards show? They pride themselves on being short.

“It’s an achievement to finish early,” says executive director Evelyn Brady-Watters. “We shoot for 70 minutes, you get the best action parts of the trailers, the packages come in around a minute for four nominees, there’s a party before and a party after. It’s a rocket ride.”

“It’s an ADD crowd,” says executive producer Monica Brady.

The sisters, who started up the Golden Trailer Awards in 1999, won’t say whether they’ve caused Attention Deficit Disorder, or just contributed to it (“We’re doing what we can,” jokes Brady.) But their influence on the art of trailers — billions of which are watched online and other devices undreamt of when the GTA started — seems unquestionable. The latest results will be on display tonight at the Music Box theater in Los Angeles, as the 12th annual GTAs are announced by an international panel of jurors that includes producers J. Todd Harris, Amy Hobby, Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Andrew Kosove.

“When you put a spotlight on something, it naturally raises the caliber,” says Brady. The Golden Trailers have brought “attention, incentive and accountability to trailers,” says Watters-Brady. “And the feedback online keeps people honest.”

With submissions at an all-time high of 1,050 this year (and the GT’s first international venture taking place in Mumbai, India, in December), the organization is in discussion with networks for a possible holiday show this winter, which would be a natural vehicle for studios to promote the films that are already being promoted in the trailers — if not to the plot-spoiling extent they once were. The sisters still joke about the 2000 trailer for “Castaway” that showed Tom Hanks making it home from his island. “That one made us want to start a ‘What’s Left?’ award,” jokes Watters-Brady.

But the common plaint that trailers give away too much isn’t something the sisters agree with. Not anymore. “An editor once pointed out to me, ‘If I’m giving away the movie in 2 minutes and 30 seconds,’ there wasn’t much there to start with,'” laughs Brady. “A lot of people think it’s a problem, but the trailer needs to leave you wanting more, without giving away the third act.”

Trailers are tighter now they were when the Golden Trailers began, says Watters-Brady, and more polished. At the same time, some problems are perennial. “Comedy trailers are more difficult to do, especially since everyone thinks the best jokes are in the trailer. But look at ‘Bridesmaids.’ Great trailer, and the movie still delivered.”

The year of GTA No. 1 was the year of “The Matrix,” a watershed for movies and trailers. The sisters didn’t know if anyone would show; the DGA theater was full. “Everyone came to the awards,” says Brady, “but they were like ‘We know what’s going to win.’ ” This year, 16 awards will be given out during the show; dozens — including honors for posters, posts and TV spots — will be announced prior. What’s being celebrated is an art form unto itself, and one whose popularity is only increasing.

“It’s like novels and short stories,” says Brady-Watters. “And what people are saying is that they prefer the short story to the novel. When they can get them on demand, that’s what they like.”

ART & BIZ TRAILERS/THE GOLDEN TRAILER AWARDS
Hitting the mark | Trailer shops cue music | Sound gardens | Where trailers are the star attraction | Kicking off summer a year early | Golden Trailer kudos: short and sweet | Golden Trailer nominations | Overseas trailers more permissive | The hit list

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