Monday, January 22, 2018

Recut trailers reveal the power of music in digital storytelling

When we teach kids to tell a story digitally, a key element is helping them understand the power  background music has for setting the mood. It is a device kids don't have when they write and so it's not always natural for them to include it. Look no further than youtube for an impactful and extremely entertaining way to demonstrate this power.

Somewhere in the course of human creative history, our species became inspired to take original movie trailers and remix them with a completely different look and feel. Although the order of scenes has an effect, more than anything the background music really drives home the new mood.

With students, take time to find ones that feature movies that students know. "Scary Mary" is a remix of "Mary Poppins" and perfect for showing this adults. Many of my elementary kids haven't seen the Disney classic. As old as that makes me feel, I just had to accept it and find others. My personal favorite is "The Shining" recut as a romantic comedy with Peter Gabriel's happy "Solsbury Hill" as the background track.

This is another one that only a certain portion of the population will "get" because of the age of the original film but I love it.

The recut trailer I have found that resonates most with older elementary kids is the "Elf Recut as a Thriller". Another relatable project is the remix of Pixar's "Up". Most know the originals well. There are some "Frozen" remixes out there and a slew of "Finding Nemo" recut trailers to explore.

One challenge I found in looking for the best to use with students is that there seems to be an abundance of horror themed trailers. It's either horror movies being made happy or it's happy movies being made into horror movies. There's nothing really graphic but definitely preview all of them and decide on the fit for your classroom. It's most likely that you'd be employing these examples with fourth graders on up and it is my guess that most can handle it. Although it would be nice to have an abundance of genres to show, the contrast of happy to horror really hammers home the point of how music can really change the mood. 

When you are building that cinematic narrative or digital storytelling unit, hook your young filmmakers with one of these memorable examples of the power the right background music has on setting the right tone.

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