How does someone get involved in the business of copywriting for previews?

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Answered by: Doug, An Expert in the Creative Writing Category
I've always loved previews/coming attractions and was able to get in on the ground level of a company (Aspect Ratio) that promoted from within. I started as a runner (driver) at this company and paid my dues on the roads of LA. After 8 months behind the wheel, I become the driver coordinator (like from the TV show Taxi, I was the Louie Depalma of Aspect Ratio) and oversaw all "runs" (deliveries) that came in and out of the building.

By now being "in house", I was able to get a better look at how trailers/tv spots were made. The creative process was unique and intriguing to me. After being driver coordinator, most people chose the path to becoming an editor by becoming assistant editors. I chose to take the road less traveled and went more on the writing side. I was fascinated by the fact that editors couldn't cut a frame without a script. I liked that idea that it all began with words and I knew my brain worked in a way that could come up with them.

I figured I always talked like "that guy who narrates the trailers", so why not find the niche where I could use that "gift" to make a career. Copywriting for previews became my goal. So I began watching the movies we'd be working on and trying to come up with scripts. My first success was with the George Clooney/Michelle Pfeiffer movie "One Fine Day". They were looking to do a spot that showed her in control of her life but then it gets thrown out of whack by this new guy in her life - so I came up with MELANIE PARKER WAS PERFECTLY BALANCING HER JOB AND HER LIFE UNTIL HE... TIPPED THE SCALES. The bosses liked it, the studio loved it and I then began being taken seriously as someone who could deliver the words they needed to cut spots. I was given the title of junior copywriter, nailed a few more campaigns, dropped the "junior" from my title and was part of the creative team.

By being around the people who make previews/coming attractions I learned the craft and discovered what the keys were to making successful marketing campaigns. I stayed on staff at Aspect Ratio for three years. I then sold a comedy pitch to Columbia Pictures for an idea for a comedy I had. The key to making this happen was a tagline I came up with for the film. I credit my experience in the motion picture advertising industry for helping me with this part of being able to sell the pitch.

After securing the deal with Columbia I was able to leave my staff position at Aspect Ratio and create a freelance copywriting life for myself. Whenever an employee at Aspect Ratio would leave and join another company I would have a "shop" to write for. Through these connections I would meet new people at new places, creating new opportunities for me to expand my freelance career. Copywriting for previews always intrigued me, and I was able to make a living doing it.

10 years later I work with all the big shops and am looking to expand into other areas of writing.

So there.

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