Monday, December 8, 2008

On all sorts of Teasers

Some of the cast and all of the crew of Teaser, the video

At the Providence Journal, where I used to work, the union put on an annual production called The Follies, a spoof of the news, that drew a minimum audience of one thousand.
One year, I played one of the Brown University students who were nabbed in an Ivy League prostitution ring in the mid-eighties. Another year, I sang in a chorus of hookers. As my husband noted, I got cast as a floozie of some sort pretty much every year.
Until that great day when the director noticed that I looked exactly just like Claudine Schneider, a Republican US Congresswoman.

A star was born.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I wasn’t exactly Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, but Claudine Schneider did come up to me afterward to congratulate me on my performance and said something like, “Oh my God. You DO look just like me.”
Unfortunately for my acting career, Claudine retired from politics. Then I left the newspaper.
Fast forward more than ten years. My fourth book is coming out and I’ve decided to do a book trailer. A teaser for Teaser.

Most authors do slide shows or animation. Because I almost never do things the easy way, I decided I need a real production with real live actors and actresses. Luckily for me, I had a friend with a production company. Dave Emmerling, founder and a partner in Midnight Media Group of Millburn, New Jersey. He offered to help me -- making me the luckiest author on the planet.

This was the deal. I would write the script, site the scenes, cast the actors, and provide costume and props. I wrote one script, realized what it would require in locating and getting permission to shoot the sites, and immediately rewrote the script. I scoured I-Party and second-hand shops for props. I cast the actors through Craig’s List and by calling local colleges and universities. The hardest part was casting the teenagers.

There were nights when I woke up at 2 in the morning worrying that I’d never find those teenagers, or the wigs ,or the Catholic School kilt. And what if no one showed up after Dave drove all the way to Massachusetts from New Jersey? I was dealing with people I’d only met over the Internet for goodness sakes.

But there's no business like show business. The actors not only showed up exactly on time, but were professional and prepared. They either looked just like the characters I’d envisioned in my head – or a little better. The Russian accents required were dead-on. Everyone took direction. I even got a bit role.
Our makeup artist, Vera, made everyone feel relaxed. And Dave did his magic with his high definition cameras and lighting and duvateen. Just like a night at the Follies, we felt a bond as the curtain came down. I was high for days.

So take a look and tell me what you think. Do I have a new career in Hollywood? Maybe not. But was it one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life?? You betcha.


  1. I love the video! This is so cool. Of course, the subject is so timely and this is a perfect way to promote.
    Way to go, Jan!

  2. what fun Jan! You definitely have a new career...and congrats on the launch of Teaser. Best wishes for big sales numbers!

  3. I LOVED "Teaser" and how appropriate to have this ominous [lower-case] teaser to give readers a clue of what lurks within those hard covers.

    Youngsters, videocams, and the internet are a truly lethal combination, Jan, you nailed it with this book.

  4. Jan: The video is great! I have a tendency to turn most trailers off before they have finished. Not yours. Well done.

    Cassy Pickard

  5. Thanks guys!! I appreciate all the kind words. Although writers beware...when you do one of these, you feel the same way launching it as you do the actual book. I'm compulsively checking into YouTube for PAGE VIEWS. and when some guy actually subscribed to see all my videos (HA!!) I went crazy doublechecking that he wasn't anyone I or my production company already knew!!

  6. I think this is s stellar video, Jan. I think screenwriting may be in your future too!
    Best of luck with the book!

  7. Very nice, Jan! Definitely makes you want to run out and buy the book--right after you lock up your kids.


  8. Jan,

    So gooood and so scary--everyone who sees it will race out and buy the book. Really compelling. Of course, you'll write the screenplay.


  9. Thanks Cassy, Mo, and Jungle babes!,
    I'm like a mother and her newborn with this video. A brand new obsession.
    And thanks Judy for commenting on YOUTUBE, you made my day!

  10. It's the strangest task---to make a video presentation to encourage a person to buy a very non-video thing.

    This one works! it's edgy, and sort of--of itself, you know? It's about the book, and it IS the book, and that's what makes it successful.

    You did a terrific job.

    I'd love to hear what people think about book trailers in general...

  11. Jan,

    I've been AWOL here for awhile - too much going on and was in Turkey for a while last month.

    Just made a point of dropping in today and "lo what to my eyes did a appear, but a trailer for 'teaser' with several young dear...'

    Just viewed the trailer! Very, very good. I like the pacing. It captures the intensity of the subject matter and the characters each come through clearly. Their uncertainty and exploration is clearly obvious without getting into a contemporary cliche.

    Jan, your interest in screen writing is very apparent and for sure you made the most of the opportunity in terms of professionals to do the production.

    It clearly personifies it's title - teaser.

    Very, very, very impressive. You definitely have screen writing in your veins. Every time the awards for commercials are on I like to watch - the prize winners do an amazing job of developing a theme in 60 - 75 seconds. In my opinion yours should be right up there with the national prize winners.

    Wow! I truly am excited for you!


  12. Hi Mike,
    Welcome back!! Thanks so much for the kind words which I'm going to pass on to my producer!

    Sounds like your trip to Turkey was amazing. I'm bleary-eyed this week with promotion, but WILL be responding to your email!!

    I'm so happy you're no longer AWOL!!

  13. Jan -

    I forgot to mention that I really liked the typing across the screen. That helps form that bridge that Hank mentioned - where you transition both into the computer world and in a sense the writing world. To me this is one of the reasons that it works so well. It takes you directly into the online computer world in a 'real' way at the same time - once you are there - how the story progresses in terms of form almost becomes irrelevant. For me, if the movie were available I want to see it. In this case the book is only available and so I'd want to read it. If both were available, I'd check out the buzz and go from there for my first choice.

    My sense is that is why the reaction has been so positive. What you have done is certainly a formative task and you've done it impressively and with style that gives a sense of the book both in terms of its content and style.