A year in the life of student drama trailers

Screen

Many drama productions across Oxford decide to ‘plug’ their latest shows with filmed trailers. These range from downright surreal to incredibly intriguing, and, with the end of the calendar year rapidly approaching, it seems like an appropriate time to look back and pick the invariable highs and lows of what was ultimately quite a creative year for the Oxford drama scene. What all of these, as well as the large number of other trailers, ultimately show is the wealth of opportunity and artistic vision that exists within the University, one that is destined to continue in the next year. 

One example of a student film making organisations is shown in action in the photo above – the OBA (Oxford Broadcasting Association) is working on a series of adventurous, novel and engrossing features that will hopefully take centre stage in the coming year (shooting for the short piece titled ‘In A Grove’ is ongoing). In the mean time, it is worth recognising these trailers as the labour of love they actually are, rather than simply as a bolt-on to stage productions.

1.) ‘A Theory of Justice’ – Hilary 2013/Edinburgh 2013

Open to Ollie Nicholls’ pristine features, melodiously bringing us the unforgettable chorus line to ‘A Theory of Justice’, destined to be hummed by PPE students casually in the library for the rest of the year. The show itself may have had a sell-out run in Oxford and then a reasonable time in Edinburgh, but the main pitfall of this trailer is that you never get the grand sense of scale that the show came to represent. Time-travelling debating meets romance in a philosophical setting is a hard act to sell, and whilst the show benefited from being a giant academia injoke, very little actual substance is conveyed through this minute long piece. Constraints must, of course, be considered; it is difficult to get a large cast together to give any trailer the desired impact, but perhaps this would have worked in this case.

2.) ‘The Glass Menagerie’ – Trinity 2013

Okay, the whole ‘it’s better than…’ tagline may be a pretty applaudable marketing technique but when concerned with a play depicting the difficulty of both accepting reality and comprehending the depths of escapism, it proved to be a jarring mix. It may have been billed as ‘better than sex’, but after two hours in a darkened, hot room in Corpus on a Thursday summer evening, the comparison is perhaps easier to make than first assumed.

3.) ‘The Cherry Orchard’ – Hilary 2013

The silent-movie is an oft-used effect with amateur film works, but here it works perfectly – capturing the whimsical tone that the later production managed to maintain. The introduction to the relatively large cast is also a treat- watch out especially for Gayev (Will Law)’s expression of bliss with the consumption of a small sweet.

4.) ‘Shells’ – Michaelmas 2013

http://vimeo.com/79207513

Say what you want about Rough-Hewn, they know exactly how to pitch a trailer. Every image in the clip from Coase’s Shells has an underlying sense of menace and intrigue, lavishly placed on some undisclosed beach at an undisclosed time. The armchair for instance – it is not known why it is there, but to a certain extent it matters little compared to the confrontation taking place with it. This is student film at its best.

5.) ‘The Producers’ – Michaelmas 2013

The Producers was an incredible show – how could it not be when billed as the most expensive student performance on an Oxford stage. It was hilarious from start to finish. The dancing was astounding and well-choreographed. It drew the audience into this lavish, colourful, almost farcical world. Unfortunately this image just isn’t replicated in the trailer (especially for those prone to epileptic seizures). The rapidly interchanging shots at the start of the trailer almost imply a sense of sinister dance-based foreboding, rather than loveable comedic interaction. The stroll down a wet Oxford street may well have suited us as students, but loses what makes The Producers such a sell-out hit time and time again – a rollercoaster ride through a Broadway landscape of surrealism and adventure. 

PHOTO\\ Naveen Saxen