Adrian Van Young’s “Shadows in Summerland” and the Art of the Book Trailer


A recent interview with director Jamieson Fry about his experience directing book trailers went into some interesting territory regarding his guiding principles for coming up with concepts for trailers. “[T]he way a book sticks with you is a weird limbo between a dream and a real memory,” Fry said, and it’s that sensation that many a trailer can convey. There are good bad trailers and mediocre ones; some seek to condense the book into a short time frame, while others let the author discuss their work or provide a thematic reflection of the work in question.

For instance, the trailer for Adrian Van Young’s Shadows in Summerland, directed by Ashley Britt Chapman. Van Young’s is a book that we’re pretty fond of around here, and the trailer utilizes plenty of strange imagery that captures a viewer’s attention. Among other details, there’s a shifting array of ornately arranged candles, old-timey captions, and a guy with a nasty-looking headwound. (See below.)

Because of the novel’s period setting, the look of the trailer, which evokes early silent films, doesn’t need to be epic and high-definition. The graininess of the image, which echoes something salvaged from a forgotten archive, helps further the mood here. And given that Van Young’s novel also traffics in narrative disorientation, the quick cuts also help anticipate the tone of the book to come. All in all, it’s a succinct demonstration of how a book trailer with a stripped-down aesthetic can still capture the spirit (no pun intended) of a vividly-constructed novel.

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