Promos Take Center Stage at the Golden Trailer Awards

By Emily Rodz

The Golden Trailer Awards celebrates the hard, unnoticed work of trailer editors and their key role in enticing viewers. When watching a trailer, the editor’s name often is unmentioned in the credits; a discrepancy that was noticed by the creators of the Golden Trailer Awarsd Monica Brady and Evelyn Brady-Watters, 22 years ago.

An awards show was not what the co-founders initially had in mind; instead they were facing issues with creating a trailer for their own film. Since this was the pre-Google era, Brady and Brady-Watters did not have access to a database all trailer editors. and so, they thought “there’s got to be an award show for them, because they’re our favorite part of the movies, and that’s how we’ll find the best editor,” said Brady. With this in mind, the pair sent out applications to editors and judges within the industry (including Quentin Tarantino, Kenneth Bradshaw, Benicio del Toro) that “put [them] on the map right off the gate.” They try to keep the judging panel to people within the industry, explains Brady, including “industry experts, producers, directors, actors, [and] marketing executives.” Networking at different film festivals helped them curate jury lists. 

The show consists of 108 categories, ranging from films—with sub-categories including horror, documentary, and foreign film—to TV to video game trailers video game trailers. Trends have shown that Best Horror used to be one of the top categories in the show, but with the pandemic and lack of theatrical releases, streaming services took over some of the feature categories, such as Best Drama, Best Comedy, and Best Action. 

Top Gun: Maverick‘s spot “Back,” winner of the 2021 Golden Trailer Best in Show Award

On the night of the show, “we only show 15 categories, because no one can sit through 100, and we show snippets of each of those categories… like Best Drama, Best Action, Best Independent,” and then, with something like Best Independent, it gets split into different categories to distinguish between trailer houses like AV Squad and Buddha Jones. Many categories with subcategories wedged between them make the show a vast field for every genre of trailer. The show is very fast-paced (about 80 minutes long), which Brady counts as a benefit due to most people’s short attention spans. “If it’s not catching us in the first couple of minutes, we’re out.” The show was made to “celebrate trailers [and]everybody there who loves trailers”—and most importantly, the editors, who “take a not so great movie and convince you to go see it… to part with your time and money.” A special award they have for just that circumstance is the fan-favorite Golden Fleece Award. This year, Buddha Jones and Warner Bros. took home the award for The Matrix: Resurrections. Other nominees included Blacklight, Snake Eyes, and Moonfall.

Because trailers aim to offer just enough about a film to make an audience want to go see it, they often leave the audience with patterns and emotions that linger long after the main feature has begun. For Bloom, key criteria for a trailer are that “it stays in your head,” it elicits some sort of emotional response, and “it makes me take my pen and write down the movie.” With large volumes of trailers being continually released, there are always going to be cliches. “You can get away from a cliche as you have more minds working on things,” says Bloom, “but you can stay in a cliche if the same six studios are sending to the same trailer house.” Trailers that have succeeded in steering clear of this pitfall often avoid certain images and place emphasis on sound or creating reverse expectations of what a trailer for the film might look like. One category that is successful at avoiding most cliches is Best Original. This category, according to Bloom, includes “folks at the top of their game of cutting things, and then tak[ing] it one step further.” Bloom counts the category among her favorites, along with Best Music, Best Independent, and Best Documentary, which are also some of the feature categories included on the night of the show. 

Although the show is a competition, there is a sense of camaraderie throughout the entire field of nominees and winners. Everybody is so “happy to be amongst their peers…to get nominated is already hard enough, and the competition is great…which is super encouraging to see in a world that is so [competitive].” Monica hopes to see the future of the show get to the ranks of the Oscars and hopefully to be broadcasted in the years to come. The next Golden Trailers Show takes place next year in May-June 2023.

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