Two articles about the same movie, one in The Hollywood Reporter and one from IndieWatch caught my eye this week for the same reason–Aubrey Plaza.  The film is a new Indie film by Matt Spicer, about Ingrid (played by Aubrey Plaza), a young woman who tried to make friends with a woman she follow-stalks on Instagram (Taylor, played by Elizabeth Olsen).

After Ingrid has an initially successful attempt to befriend Taylor by stealing her dog and pretending she found it as an excuse to me, things quickly spiral out of control.

Interestingly enough, the trailer itself wasn’t that interesting to me–I mean, it wasn’t bad–it is a well edited trailer which poses a lot of questions, but it didn’t really give me any idea at all about what the film was.  I had to get the premise from other sources.  Because I had just watched the trailer for In A World (a 2013 Indie film by Lake Bell) for a class, I automatically compared the trailers to each other.

In A World took a very different approach.  It’s a longer trailer at two and a half minutes.  Although it boasts a cast featuring Fred Melamed, Ken Marino, Eva Longoria, and Nick Offerman, it doesn’t push their names in the trailer.  Instead, it opens with a montage of “In a World”s being said by different V.O. artists, quickly sets up the story, introduces the characters and conflict, brings comedy in to show the mood of the film, and then wraps, leaving behind a good understanding of the film’s premise somehow without having dropped much at all in the way of spoilers.

Ingrid goes West, by comparison, has it’s first trailer at just over a minute.  While it at least introduces Aubrey Plaza’s character, it offers almost no plot explanation, characters besides Ingrid or their dynamics with each other, and little else detail wise aside from a sense of the film’s mood (claustrophobically fast, modern, and technological–which is characterized very well by the trailer).  It spends most of the trailer pushing stars Aubrey Plaza, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Elizabeth Olsen.  And yet, as I just admitted, Aubrey Plaza was the reason I read the article in the first place, so you can hardly knock that as a marketing tool.

It brought up some interesting thoughts on the subject of marketing–especially trailers.  I’m a big fan of Aubrey Plaza because of her roles in Parks and Recreation and Safety not Guaranteed, so that initial interest got me to check out a link I wouldn’t otherwise have clicked.  At the same time, having watched both trailers, I definitely found In A World more compelling, because I understood it, which made it something I wanted to see, while my general feeling towards Ingrid goes West ended up as a vague “well maybe” towards pursuit of seeing it.

I’m not an expert in marketing by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m trying to learn more and more about the business aspects of filmmaking.  And, it seems to me–both through these contrasting examples and many, many more trailers that these two brought to mind–that actor or other names attached to a film are great for grabbing interest, but it takes a solid looking story and characters, and a trailer which feels as invested in its audience, to fully entice an audience to become invested in it.

As an aspiring filmmaker who has no access to big name stars, it is kind of reassuring to realize that–at least personally–when looking for new films, I am captivated much more by characters than cast.