The Making of the Harbinger Trailer

Soooo… about a year and a half ago, Tony and I started thinking about making a book trailer for Harbinger. Since we live in LA, a lot of our friends work in movies, tv, and video games. So it seemed like a crime not to make a live-action, movie-style trailer. Plus, it’d be easy, right??

I had no idea.

Photo by Mandy Walls.


I remember my friends Brian and Kim’s faces when I pitched them the idea. “So… I was thinking we could do a montage, right? ‘Cause then we could show all this stuff that happens in the book and it’ll be easier, ’cause it’ll just be little snippets.”

*blink, blink*

They already knew then what I was about to learn. Montages are one of the hardest things to do, because you have to film so many scenes, in so many different locations. But evidently, my enthusiasm was catching, because Brian and Kim decided to follow me into the madness and awesomeness that was making the Harbinger trailer. And over the course of the next year, I learned something else important.

Making movies is AWESOME.

Okay. Some of it _was_ running around with a camera.

I’d only been on a real set once before and I’d never made anything of my own. So somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought we’d kinda just run around southern California with a camera and a couple actors and shoot stuff. Not so. Because if I’d really thought about it, I’d have realized that filming takes a lot of specialized equipment and people with even more specialized skills. And my favorite part about making the trailer was watching people work, watching how skilled people can use amazing angles and lighting and performances to transform a set into a movie. I loved learning how you bring a story to life. Especially because this was my story!

But the best part about making this trailer was also the hardest part. People. Making something like this takes a lot of very talented, very skilled people. And again, I was blown away and fascinated by what these wonderful people could (and would!) do.

The ocean might have been a little chilly. Sorry, Olivia!

Let’s take Olivia, for example, clearly the most visible part of the trailer. I saw her photo when we were casting and I thought, “This is our Faye. She looks perfect!” And when we met her, we realized that not only did she look the part, but that girl could act! And incredibly, that wasn’t the best part about Olivia. The best part was how committed she was. On the first day, we shut her in a hot garage to shoot the green screen for the leaping shot. The next shoot, we stained her hands red with blood, put her up a tree, and made her run around in the woods. On the third shoot, we sprayed her down with water until she was shivering. And still, she didn’t even blink when we told her we wanted her to walk into the ocean in December. She was serious about her craft and what we were doing. And it shows.

Then there was Brian, our director, who got up before dawn to go out into the ocean with Tony and get the underwater footage. Who refused to give up our original vision when I was overwhelmed by how complicated and time-consuming the trailer had become and wanted to quit. Who imagined the epic shot of Faye leaping out of the ocean and convinced us all to think big.

And Jason, who worked all day and late into the night on the Glee set, only to wake up early (and sick!) for a 10 hour shoot. And at the end of the day, he still managed to do the incredible, creepy lighting for the shot of Faye waking up on the cement floor, hands covered in blood.

I have stories like this for all of our cast and crew. All of them taking time out of their professional lives to volunteer to make this trailer. Honestly, it leaves me speechless. I cannot really express how grateful I am for the wonderful, talented, creative people who made Harbinger come to life. Thank you.

When I watch this trailer, what is clear to me is this: it has a life and momentum of its own. People jumped in with both feet and made it theirs. The Harbinger trailer may have started off as my vision, but it became everyone’s. A fantastic conglomeration of long days and pizza and generosity and so much talent. Thank you to everyone who worked on this. One year, 5 film shoots, 6 locations, and 50 people later…we have a trailer!

And here’s a little behind-the-scenes montage of my own to show you exactly what I mean.

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Most of the footage in the “Making of” is taken on my little Flip camera and the wonderful, surfy soundtrack is courtesy of The Ghosts of Searchlight. As I previously noted, I have NO experience with making movies and this is my first dabbling with Adobe Premiere, so you’ll have to take it for what it is, just a fun compilation of candid moments. But you can clearly see how much time and love people put into this!

Before I go… I have some more thank yous!

To Brian Horn, Kim Kotis Horn, and Tony Etienne, who dreamed up this trailer with me at the beginning, who rethought and reimagined it over and over, until it became the best possible version of itself! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

To Ryan Harvie, who is a wonderful producer and whose constant vigilance about the details (and gift of a Tribble) allowed me to regain my sanity.

To all our talented actors! Olivia Delgado, Katy Yoder, Patrick Ward, and Barbara Witzer Banner…thank you for bringing my characters to life! You are amazing!

To our tireless film crew, Lucas Merino, Jason Puliti, Justin Talbott, and Tyler Beauregard…thank you so much for all your care and craft! It was amazing watching you work…magic!

To Leigh Bardugo,who took time to be our make-up artist for the first 2 shoots, even though she was on deadline for her book. She is an amazing new author and her book SHADOW AND BONE completely blew me away! It comes out in June, 2012 and believe me, you do not want to miss it!

To Ryan and Jenn Bosworth, for not just the use of their greenscreen, but for Ryan’s incredible help during the shoot. Ryan is an incredible director in his own right. And Jenn Bosworth is another fellow author whose riveting book STRUCK is coming out May 2012. Keep your eyes out for her book trailer coming out soon!

To Angela Blake, make-up artist extraordinaire, who gave so much to this trailer and was so fun to have on set. You’re amazing!

To Omar Fadel and Brian Horn (multi-talented!), whose music gave this trailer its ambiance and soul.

To Gail, another fantastic writer and friend, for letting us take over her house and yard for an entire day!

To Steeg and Lisa, who also graciously allowed us to monopolize their house. You made Holbrook come to life!

Bonfire!! Photo by Rita Crayon Huang

To Mandy Walls and Rita Crayon Huang, who took wonderful photos of our shoots!

To Tony (again!) for your amazing visual effects work! Faye’s leap takes my breath away.

To so many other wonderful people whose generosity, talents, and time made this happen… thank you Ryan Doolittle, Matias Volkert, Rohan Chitrakar, Sean Morris, Brandon Martin, Jeff Beeland.

And last but not least, Damon Nagami and all to our bonfire dancers! Thank you, friends, for braving the cold (and the fire!) to make that scene amazing! And for wrapping up the trailer shoot with a bang!





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