- IntroductionTrailers, Titles, and End Credits
This special issue has grown out of a small conference on music in Titles, Teasers and Trailers at the University of Edinburgh in April 2013, organized by Annette Davison, who has also contributed an article to the issue. The conference has also spawned another special issue, for Arts Marketing. An International Journal, co-edited by Keith M. Johnston, another of the contributors to this MSMI special issue, and to be published in 2015. That a rapidly expanding field of research such as screen media musicology casts its nets increasingly widely is the common course of things: scholars are always looking for unploughed furrows, for fresh material to study, and as screen media musicology has moved beyond film music on to music in television, video games, the internet, and mobile devices, it is also moving beyond core texts to look (and listen) more closely at ancillary material, at paratexts (more about which below).
But it would be churlish to suggest that the interest in filmic paratexts (and in the role of sound and music in them) is merely driven by the desperate search for fresh things to write about. They deserve the attention because they do things and are structured in specific ways, and use sound and music in specific ways too. Trailers and title and credit sequences are, in different ways, parts of the connective tissue of the cinematic body. Title and credit sequences link the inside and outside of fictional texts, the acknowledgement of the real-world origin of a film with its story and storyworld. In doing so, they also connect the institutional and economic reality of a film to its story. Trailers, in advertising their films, do this yet more openly. And all of these ‘small forms’ have also developed rich landscapes of solutions for complex knots of economic, legal, formal and aesthetic requirements, often compressing a range of audiovisual fragments and layers into assemblages that open up spaces for ‘aesthetic variations, play room’, spaces for the display of filmic ‘epideixis’ (Stanitzek 2009: 49–50), or, more down-to-earth, ‘showmanship’ (Allison 2006).
Work on trailers (and to a lesser degree on title and credit sequences) has relied heavily on Gérard Genette’s category of the paratext, by which he means any element ‘not materially appended to the text within the [End Page 111] same volume but circulating […] freely, in a virtually limitless physical and social space’ (Genette 1997: 344). Lisa Kernan considers trailers to belong to Genette’s sub-category of the paratext, the ‘epitext’, which in literary genres corresponds to ‘posters, advertisements, press releases and other prospectuses […] periodical bulletins addressed to booksellers, and “promotional dossiers” for the use of sales reps’ (ibid.: 347, cited in Kernan 2004: 234 n16). Stanitzek, at around the same time, explored the way in which Genette’s concepts might or might not be fruitfully applied to film and TV media, and as we shall see below he has also addressed the other major theme of this special issue, credit sequences (2005; see also Paech 2004). Using terminology from Genette, he points out how the two forms are related: ‘The title sequence is a peritext: it is tied more or less securely to the film it introduces. On the other hand, the trailer – like movie posters, newspaper advertisements, stills, “Making of” accounts, press conferences, and the like – constitutes an epitextual form’ (2009: 52).
Trailers have become a major part of the way in which we consume films. This is particularly true in the Internet age, where the many websites devoted to films, such as the Internet Movie Database, have immediate access to trailers. But trailers have also assumed a life disconnected from the films they purport to advertise, confirming Stanitzek’s view that they are ‘epitexts’. There are sites specifically devoted to trailers, such as Traileraddict (http://www.traileraddict.com/), or the online festival of trailers, International Movie Trailer Festival (http://www.international-movietrailerfestival.com/). As James Deaville and Agnes Malkinson point out in their article for this issue, according to a 2008 poll ‘of some 10 billion videos watched online annually, movie trailers rank #3, after...