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25 February 2016

Peter Millet's JOHNNY DANGER: LIE ANOTHER DAY - Guest Post


Peter Millet on...
What’s are three things you need to make a memorable book trailer?
Lights, camera and disco…

      Well the first two are items traditionally featured in most author-created videos but not necessarily the third one. With my new online trailer for Johnny Danger: Lie Another Day I’ve decided to bring the infectious, finger-wagging disco beats back and help put the boogie into books to create a trailer unlike any other posted this month.
     Late last year I completed my second middle grade book and made some notes about scenes that would be interesting to feature in a potential trailer. One of those scenes included a hip hop battle in the Amazon jungle involving spies, deadly warriors, and a man eating anaconda. Taking this concept a step further I decided it would be hilarious to make the world’s first ever one minute author music video for a book.
      Usually I would bombard my fellow author friends on Twitter or Facebook with endless updates about my new book and supply millions of reasons why they should be as excited about it as I was. I decided that this time around I would only send one tweet and one Facebook post promoting the title, but that one action would be highly memorable. I also wanted to create a short piece of entertainment that children would enjoy and wish to share with their friends. In my book the hero uses a mixture of Uptown Funk and Gangnam Style dance moves to engage and outwit his adversaries. As pure luck would have it the week we began filming the video, the K-POP artist Psy released a catchy new single and openly encouraged listeners and fans to create their own, comical parody versions of it.
      My fate was sealed - I had to be filmed dancing on camera as part of my commitment to the craft of writing.
      Obviously I was unable to travel to the Amazon to film the sequence, so I decided to transport myself there via a green screen. For those who are not familiar with green screen technology - it’s simply a process of filming yourself in front of a green background, and then using a computer to remove any traces of the green colour. Effectively what you are standing in front of becomes invisible (the same method weather presenters use standing in front of their imaginary maps on TV). This allows you to be placed anywhere in the world on anything you desire.
      I engaged the services of my teenage children to help me film the humorous sequences. Most of the humour was generated watching me trying to emulate Peter Jackson or James Cameron by creating a hybrid green screen shooting studio in the middle of our living room with no experience at all. I think they realised I was technically challenged when I purchased two halogen lights to illuminate the green screen, and later realised the units I purchased did not include power cords. When I finally purchased the correct lights, the laughter continued as one of the fragile halogen bulbs blew up seconds before filming commenced and I had to return to the store dressed as James Bond needing an urgent thingamajig-wotsit replacement.
      Somehow we managed to film us all separately dancing along to PSY’s song and then splice the footage together in the computer.
      I was relatively surprised how believable the footage looked on-screen. I then decided to raise the stakes a little higher and asked my son if it would be possible to paste me disco dancing on top of a US Navy nuclear submarine. (Virginia Class for those sub-spotters out there.) It turns out it was possible - just extremely time-consuming. Every single scene (nearly 100) had to be hand adjusted to allow for the movement of my body being in sync with the motion of the submarine ploughing through the water. I eventually volunteered to do the painstaking adjustments myself, which I would relate to the task of individually replacing commas with semi colons throughout a lengthy Word document (a task ideally suited for a nerdy writer).
      Four days later we had a pretty funny looking one-minute trailer in place. The icing on the cake was enlisting my good friend Brent Burridge who has over 30 years’ experience working in the radio industry to lay down vocals. He volunteered to play the gravelly-voiced narrator guy who adds a touch of dramatic tension to the clip that makes the whole product look ludicrously over the top.
     I hope people enjoy watching this entertaining trailer. Particularly I hope children find it an amusing way to spend 60 seconds in front of their computers. For my next book release I will most likely revert to the traditional methods of bombarding folk via Twitter… or not!
     Click the image below to learn more about Peter Millet and his latest Johnny Danger novel:

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