I first met filmmaker Adam Patch, courtesy of David Brundage on Facebook, over Thai food in San Francisco.
It was a warm evening in the Mission district, a good omen and unusual blessing. The goal of our meeting was simple: to see if we clicked and, passing that hurdle, to plot the making of “the best book trailer ever made.”
Whether we pulled it off or not, that ambitious mission statement was necessary to survive the many all-nighters and hiccups that would follow.
August of 2010 was the starting point.
On November 30th, the end product was a 59-second trailer, which debuted on Huffington Post Books. It immediately took The 4-Hour Body from near #150 to #30 on Amazon, where it later climbed to #1.
The launch was initiated by a simple poll post, which was followed by an analytical second post. Due to its high production value, the video then made the jump from online to offline, eventually making it to national TV for The Dr. Oz Show (see the clip at :40).
This post will explain exactly how the trailer was created, including early concepts, tools, the team, and more…
Hitting the Pink Elephant First
Let’s hit the most common question first. How much did it all cost?
I paid close to $12,000 total, but I also brought a lot of resources and co-promotional opportunity to the table. The same trailer done with a good freelancer could cost $40-50,000. If you choose a production company, which involves more moving pieces, it could add up to $100,000+.
But don’t be scared away by the above numbers. Can you sometimes make budgetary miracles happen? Most certainly.
Emulating a Hollywood film is much more expensive than a slick demo trailer such as those produced by Epipheo, and the latter is better suited to many start-ups and services:
Second, it’s easier to contain costs if you have a clear vision of your goal, as well as a clear picture of your would-be partner’s longer-term goals. In my first fateful meeting with Adam, I slid a piece of paper across the table within ten minutes of us sitting down — the draft storyboard:
Click here for larger version.
Following up on our meeting, I sent him this e-mail:
OK, so here are some goodies to get your juices flowing.
Here is the basic book idea — I’ve made myself a guinea pig so you don’t have to:
The video clip in this mock-up vid (attached) is from an incredible gymnast in the UK, Damien Walters. I have an email in to him to see if we’d be able to use any of his stuff. Pretty amazing, but it’ll give you an idea.
Current book cover is attached. I imagine it, some variation, or book/combo would appear at the end after the dude jumps over the car (perhaps even mid-air), or whichever visual we use.
Other potential vids for ideas:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jn6cley8WDE (jump to :25 or so, seems very low-cost but potentially HD)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQITWbAaDx0 (just for fun)
Running: 2:35 or so forward here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRZvlQTTCMg
These are all starting points, but feel free to go nuts with your imagination. I want your ideas and input.
Look forward to your treatment!
How did it all hold up? Here’s the final product in HD (give it some time to load):
Getting from that scrap of paper to spots on national TV was not easy.
The music portion alone almost killed the project. But the success of this trailer IS replicable.
The following interview and footnotes will explain the process and the lessons learned.
Adam Patch, interviewed by Charlie Hoehn (with comments by Tim)
Tell us a bit about your background.
My name is Adam Patch, and I directed and edited the trailer for The 4-Hour Body. I went to film school in San Francisco to learn directing, and got my start doing music videos, commercials, and motion graphics editing. I’ve been a freelancer for the last five years or so.
How were you chosen to direct the 4HB trailer?
I received a call from Tim one day, out of the blue.
He introduced himself, told me about the new book, and said he wanted to do a trailer for it. It sounded cool, and I hadn’t really seen many book trailers, so I was intrigued by the idea.
When we first met up, Tim laid out his entire vision, which was pretty clear from the beginning. He already had the track from Sevendust (“Splinter”) picked out, and knew he wanted to base all of the trailer’s visuals around that song.
After our first meeting, I wrote up a treatment (which is just a specific outline of how I wanted to shoot the trailer and the energy I wanted to bring to it), presented it to Tim, and he was on board right away. Shortly after that, we went and filmed it on a two-day shoot.
[TIM: Here is the original treatment Adam presented to me]
What happened after The 4-Hour Body trailer came out?
It blew up. The trailer got a ton of great comments on YouTube [896 at the time of this writing], the hits on my website took off, and I got several calls from other publishers interested in doing book trailers. I’ve also been getting emails from film students who are interested in learning how I did certain effects. It’s been really cool to see such a positive response to the video.
The trailer opens with a shot of Tim working at a table. Can you talk about that day of shooting?
We basically did a full day’s worth of shooting at the atrium inside Tim’s house. We knew that we were going to split it up, so we took our time finessing everything and really made sure all the shots looked nice. And visually-speaking, the atrium was super cool to photograph.
How Adam gave the atrium a cinematic feel in After Effects.
We brought all this stuff to make it look like a mad scientist lab, like he had been doing experiments on himself and taking notes. We shot that 30-second part of the video for probably six hours in one day. Then the following day, we drove all around the Bay, meeting up with each of the people in the video and shooting their little vignettes.
What goes into a six-hour shoot like that? Why does it take so long?
Almost all of that time was spent setting up lights. We lit up his whole atrium so it looked cool on camera, laid out a dolly track, and set up two cameras for shooting. We had a rough idea of what we wanted to shoot, but we were also exploring while we were there and coming up with ideas on the fly. For instance, there was one shot from overhead where the camera kind of drops down on Tim, and we didn’t really plan for that shot.
Typically, a shot like that would be done with a jib. But we didn’t have a jib, so what we did is we had the camera up on two C-stands and had two of our grips lower them down slowly. That looked pretty amateurish while we were doing it, but we also couldn’t see what we were shooting. We just put the camera up there and hoped it would work. So it was cool because it actually turned out pretty great.
There’s also a shot of a dilating eye. How did you guys shoot that?
We just had Tim sit in front of a camera with his eye closed for 20 seconds or so. We had a light nearby so that his eyes would quickly dilate when he opened them. Then I actually enlarged his pupil in post-production to make it even more noticeable.
What were the “holding your breath in the pool” shots like?
Those little pool shots were with Nathan Zaru. I remember it was kind of cold outside, and the water was freezing. And we had to keep doing take-after-take to make sure we got it right.
The camera we were using was the GoPro HD Cam, which is this really small HD camera where you can’t see what you’re shooting at all. It just has a fisheye lens. You shoot with it, and then you have to download the footage to see what it looks like. So we would do several takes with the camera from different positions, hoping one of them would work. In the meantime, poor Nathan is just sitting there freezing his ass off. By the end, his lips had literally turned solid blue, and we finally said, “Okay, that’s probably enough. I’m sure we got it.” It worked out.
How about the deadlifting shot in the gym?
We went down to Mark Wild’s Wild Iron Gym in San Jose, which is a really tiny, grimy old-school gym. It’s basically a big storage unit with a roll-up door, and there’s a whole bunch of huge dudes working out inside. It was pretty awesome.
What was amazing about that shot was that powerlifter Mark Bell [our photo subject] was just in the middle of a workout. It wasn’t like we were telling him to do the lift. I mean, he helped move stuff around to make it look good, but it wasn’t as staged as I thought it would be. He was lifting about 600 pounds, repeatedly. He kept saying, “You guys want me to do it again?” It was nuts.
[TIM: Just for fun, compare the above “after” post-production shot with the below “before” still. The footage is exactly the same. Notice any differences?]
We also shot Tracy Reifkind with the kettlebell at the same location. We were trying to find a good spot to film her workout, and it was basically a parking lot and storage units. So we ended up lugging all of our gear onto the roof of the building and shooting.
Her scene is on the roof of this huge industrial building. It was kind of sketchy; you’re not supposed to be able to get up there. But we shimmied up the ladder with all of our gear and shot her at the top, just so we could have a nice view of the sky.
What about the running portion?
We were driving around with Brian MacKenzie, trying to find a good spot to shoot his stuff, and we ended up finding a cool place right off of the freeway in San Mateo. We pulled over and ended up shooting a lot of different angles, because I wasn’t sure I was going to use them at cut. There’s a ton of footage of him just running around and going through trees and trails, but we only ended up using a tiny portion of it.
And the second to last shot: the Parkour jump over the wall?
We shot that with Brian Orosco at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and he was just coming off of a sprained ankle, so he wasn’t even up to par. It was a little scary because we weren’t sure how many takes we would get. He was totally doing us a huge favor and after the first jump, we didn’t expect to get another take. We figured he would hurt himself or something and we’d have to move on. But he was great. He did that jump four times, I think. And the one we ended up using in the trailer was what he called “The Lazy Boy,” where he puts his hands behind his head and jumps off.
Brian on top of the world. Not a small wall.
The set-up for one of four total camera angles.
We have to talk about the original ending. The first time Tim and I watched it, we busted out laughing. It just didn’t work.
[Laughs] Yeah. When Tim first spoke to me about the trailer, he told me a theme of his book was “becoming superhuman.” And one of the things that I put in my original treatment was that it would be cool at the end (after Brian jumps off the wall) if it were actually Tim who slams down in the final shot. So I wanted to do this totally epic comic book-style, like “Sin City” or something, where Tim would smash down on his knee and look up at the camera. That was the plan, at least.
[TIM: Here’s what the rough cut looked like, using placeholder numbers for experiments, test subjects, etc. Try and keep a straight face at the end.]
Keep in mind that this shot would only look good after a lot of work in post-production. But it was basically Tim softly dropping down to the ground, which looked extremely silly while we were shooting it. I still think that if I’d had some time to fix the shot, it probably would have turned out cool. But in the first round of edits, it just looked like a joke.
Tim called me right after he saw it for the first time, and he couldn’t stop laughing. He suggested we replace him with the book slamming down instead.
The book was just a high-res still of the cover, and I rebuilt it in 3D using After Effects. I took the different planes, rebuilt a book shape, and just slammed it down. I added dust particles and concrete cracking and all that stuff to make it seem more energetic than just a cut to the book’s title.
What kind of gear did you and your crew use during this shoot?
My crew consisted of Phillip Briggs (cinematographer), Jeremy Wong (1st AC), Chris Galdes (gaffer), and Chris Bennett (grip). Below is the full list of video gear I had to use for this shoot (minus lighting equipment).
Cameras from the shoot:
– Canon 5D
– Canon 7D
– GoPro HD Camera (for the underwater shot)
– Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro
– Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 Mark II USM
– Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
My workstation set up:
– 8 core Mac Pro (2 x 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon) with 10GBs of RAM
– 2 x 24″ Apple Cinema Displays
– Medium Intuos 4 Wacom Tablet (I use this instead of a mouse)
Software/Plugins I used for trailer:
– Twixtor (for all slow motion shots)
– Magic Bullet Looks (for color correction)
Footnotes and Cautionary Notes from Tim
But what about the music? Ahhhhh…. music. You capricious little minx, you.
The entire trailer started as a fantasy while listening to Sevendust’s “Splinter” track in an airport. I chartered Charlie with identifying the route to licensing and the costs involved.
At first glance, it appeared that, for online use only, we needed to pay approximately $320 to either ASCAP or BMI, two large clearing houses for licensing music.
In the beginning, it seemed so simple. That is, until is wasn’t simple at all. Here’s what we found in the rabbit hole, partially from ASCAP and partially from industry mentors:
There were six writers on the title “Splinter” performed by the band known as “Sevendust”:
John M Connolly
Vincent E Hornsby
Edward Clint Lowery
Corey French Lowery
La Jon Witherspon
There were four related publishers, listed below, Chrysalis being the primary and the place the start:
DARK NEW MUSIC
KAYLA 1 PUBLISHING
Once determining the above, the standard next steps were then:
Issue a “quote request” to the publishers (starting with Chrysalis) indicating the various rights and terms we were looking to clear. The request could start with “initial rights”, the most narrow we could manage, followed by “options” for broader rights. To begin the quote request, we’d need to define the scope of rights sought:
Media: Internet and TV (Need to specify if this is “all tv”, free tv, cable, satellite, etc.)
Territory: For Internet, it’s the world; for TV, is this for “Good Morning America” in the US only? North America?World?
Timing: What is the length of the use — how much of the track? Is it edited or interrupted?
Nature: Is it a background vocal? Background instrumental? Visual vocal? How is the song being used (i.e. In what context)?
Term: 6 months minimum with two options for 1 year, then 3 years? Additionally, there would be a master recording which needs separate clearance.
Sevendust’s “Splinter” also came out through Asylum, who would be the label to clear the master, typically on an MFN basis (most-favored-nation) with the publisher’s quote. While it might be helpful to have a relationship with the band (to approve the use and help expedite the process), ultimately we’d have to deal with the publisher and label at the end of the day.
Sound complicated? It should, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
It was then time for disaster-recovery planning.
Since the trailer made no sense without accompanying music, and “Splinter” was up in the air, I began to look for sound engineers as a back-up insurance policy. For a 60-second original track, the cost could range from $500 to well over $10,000, all depending on the complexity of the score, their reputations, past clients, etc.
Based on Adam’s original recommendations, I ended up working with two engineers/musicians: Steve Emerson and Dave Groseclose.
Re-editing the visuals before launch was impossible, so their tracks would need to match the cadence of our cuts. Both Steve and Dave were excellent to work with. Here are two of their samples:
Incredibly, at the 11th hour — literally, late the night before the final video deadline — we received the official go-ahead to use Sevendust’s track online, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Alvin Witherspoon, LJ’s father; Tony Couch, Sevendust’s manager; and Aaron Ray of The Collective for making it happen.
Last but certainly not least, thank you to Sevendust for creating such incredible music. If you haven’t heard their stuff, you should absolutely grab either Cold Day Memory or their acoustic Southside Double-Wide.
In summary: If you’re on deadline and need music, either hire a professional (such as a seasoned production company) to manage the complexity, or hire a sound engineer from the outset. Licensing tunes is not for the faint of heart.
The Morale (and Moral) of the Story
This trailer was incredible fun to create. It was also extremely stressful towards the end, with more than a few late-night sessions fueled by wine and caffeine.
The entire experience was infused with an anticipation wouldn’t have existed without the ambitious “create the best X ever” goal. I also believe, as smooth as most things were, it could have gone horribly wrong without a few key ingredients:
- A well-defined vision for the end product
- In-depth review of Adam’s prior reels, as well as in-person discussion, to ensure an aesthetic match.
- Two brainstorming sessions with Adam prior to making things official, to ensure a collaborative match. Creative headbutting, as opposed to give-and-take, creates delays. The request for treatment was also to observe his response time, which was outstanding. Remember: reliability and on-time delivery is more important than optimal skill set.
- Alignment of interest: Instead of focusing solely on price, Adam and I looked at how we could help each other. He was eager to show-off his killer directorial abilities in addition to his post-production skills, and the trailer provided an outlet.
As I’ve written before and still maintain:
It’s lonely at the top. 99% of the world is convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre middle-ground. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming. It is often easier to raise $10,000,000 than it is $1,000,000. It is easier to pick up the one perfect 10 in the bar than the five 8s.
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason.
Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort. I’ll run through walls to get a catamaran trip through the Greek islands, but I might not change my brand of cereal for a weekend trip through Columbus, Ohio. If I choose the latter because it is “realistic,” I won’t have the enthusiasm to jump even the smallest hurdle to accomplish it. With beautiful, crystal-clear Greek waters and delicious wine on the brain, I’m prepared to do battle for a dream that is worth dreaming. Even though their difficulty of achievement on a scale of 1-10 appears to be a 2 and a 10 respectively, Columbus is more likely to fall through.
The fishing is best where the fewest go. There is just less competition for bigger goals.
As the Romans (or at least Turnus) would say: “Fortes fortuna adiuvat!”
Fortune favors the bold. Have fun with it.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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185 Replies to “Behind the Scenes: How to Make a Movie Trailer for Your Product (or Book)”
Awesome post Tim, really appreciate it.
Really enjoyed the trailer Tim. This was such a cool idea. I remember seeing you tweet way back about wanting to make a movie trailer for the book so it’s cool to finally see how it all came together. Awesome stuff.
This was amazing. Thank you for the insight. I now feel inspired to make a trailer on my own.
*fires up iMovie….
Need a version of this for dummies. I invented the FitDesk – pedal desk for laptops and gaming. I need a video that would take me from 0 to hero. Everybody who has one loves that they can now get fit while using computers and gaming. But my video is lame, budget is even lamer. Your stuff inspires me then I heard the price tag. Thinking I am going to have to go for shock value. Any suggestions?
Very cool (and TIMELY). Just about to do some videos and this is just the inspiration and guidance I needed.
Very interesting story on how that video was created. I wondered how much something that would cost and this answers that question.
That video is priceless! It truly is.
Awesome work Adam and the video team.
Tim – great book!
I will be interesting to see how many other authors start using this type of marketing for their books. Very cool. I wonder if self published authors that sell on Kindle and BN can do this to promote themselves and their books?
Thanks for the kind comments, all! David, self-published authors — being reliant on themselves for marketing — will no doubt embrace the same methods that successful “traditional” authors employ… assuming they have a demonstrable sales effect.
Good marketing is replicable. Otherwise, it’s just luck. Hope this trailer is the former!
I just heard an NPR show about an author using trailers for his books. For informational books, it seems like a great idea. However, fans of fictional titles were complaining. They didn’t want to see the characters portrayed on screen before reading the book; They didn’t want the trailer to get in the way of their imagination.
(Sorry, I don’t have a link handy to that interview.)
It does look like authors are very much so engaging in this type of marketing, though.
All three trailers ROCK! Good call on the book landing instead of you. : ) Great for a laugh though.
It seems you may have already inspired a trend of other book trailers.
Thanks as always for sharing your challenges as well as your triumphs. You bring a certain reality to the otherwise hyped business world.
I love that backing track in the trailer, it such a good fit. Hadn’t really listened to sevendust before … they’re awesome.
Thanks for the breakdown – I see another book – Create a Trailer in 4 hours!
Seriously, I like how you broke the machine and software costs.
Great post Tim! When I saw the video, I ordered the book right away..
I need to loose 120pounds and I know your book will make the difference for me. Lost 8 pounds in the first 10 days allready and feel great!
So thank you, will let you know when I’ve made it 🙂
Good luck, Sander! Keep the faith and you’ll get there. Just chatting with a gent who’s lost more than 200! Keep us posted, and kia kaha 🙂
very nice and interesting blog post!! Looks like a lot of work! keep it up!
Thanks so much for sharing this Tim. You and Adam did a great job. As a designer/motion guy myself, I love seeing how others approach the same problems. The music licencing issues sound like a pain – glad it all worked out in the end.
One of the best trailers, ever. Definitely hit the mark on the goal for best book trailer ever. Done! I listen to that album now.
Awesome stuff, and by the way, I could not keep a straight face with the original ending where Tim jumps down like Spider-Man 😉 Good job going with what you did in the end…
Very nice. Interesting to see how it went through all the stages and still maintained your initial vision. I’ve worked for graphic design on digital videos before and its crazy how often the initial idea gets completely reworked.
Its been a while since I left a comment and I think your last post, may be perfect timing for that.
Now airing on 3 National Cable Networks, 7 international televisions stations, and a budget for a second season, my original muse of seeing the world for free, has become a full time paying gig. All thanks to the 4hww techniques and my own TV SHOW, Alive! With Adventure Aaron.
Your last couple of paragraphs sum up my experience and lessons learned over the past year. I don’t want to this to be a toot to me, instead, reinforcement on what you are saying is real. Here is why….in terms of television….
The odds of getting a show on tv are very difficult, especially considering the amount of people in the industry. Separating myself from that meant isolating myself on the opposite coast. I also used the fundamental of the 4hww to produce 13 episodes for double the price of your trailer. Although I didn’t have nearly the great effects and all-star camerawork done, it was enough to triple the cost in sales, create the Adventure Aaron brand, get the positive message across, generate sponsorships (although some for free), and oh…SEE THE WORLD! This includes using Elance to find editors and cameramen.
– American Film Crews usually get a lot of things for free when you visit other countries. Although its great, you don’t have to be a Tim Ferriss to visit Sanbona Safari, for free. After-all, I contacted them blind and actually visited a week after you were there. If they have enough to promote themselves with Google ads, they may have enough to cover your night stay if you are providing the right exposure. As long as you are professional and have a cameraman, local vendors in other countries are receptive to give you accommodations/adventures for free. Even if you are simply promoting a video on your blog. Truth, that was my first offer.
-Cameramen love traveling, if you offer them a chance to see the world for free, they may not charge you for the shoot fee. Again, that was my first successful hire.
-There are a million actors in a competitive market like Los Angeles yet a cancer survivor like me with a story and no experience, beats the odds. Everyone has a story they can run with and doesn’t need cancer, to get on TV. It is less crowded in other countries and the Euro can be more lucrative.
-If you can not get on air, buy it. Often a decent TV series can can get on tv for a 1000 to 5000 fee and you will be able to sell your own commercial spots. Everyone pitches a show, few shoot a few episodes and then air it at their own cost. I did this, “barter programming:” which led to an international agent, translating in to US sales and airings.
I will save the rest for a book, but thanks to the 4hww fundamental it should be known, even a rookie from a small town, can overcome those ‘inevitable trials and tribulations’. 🙂
Aaron, you’re an inspiration. We’ll grab some more wine in South Africa sometime. Please keep doing what you’re doing!
All the best,
Aaron, you have inspired me! I had thought of doing something similar (ie: a Tv/travel show) but got discouraged with the amount of it already happening. Awesome job and making it happen! It’s re-awakened some thoughts, thats forsure! I’ll keep in touch and have fun on your next 50 adventures!
I cant believe the 4hww and 4h body tools cleared the way for it. Its certainly crowded out there but I just think everyone has a hand to play. If you don’t win, you can still have fun doing it….If I can help, let me know!
Excellent stuff, Tim. Regarding the hassles of choosing background music, is it safe to say all of that applies to a startup’s website product demo video as well?
Wow, I love the behind the scenes, and I would love to see what could have been done in post to make you pop up and look cool at the end. It was comical but so is the raw footage of the recent movies shot on green screen.
I think the back up music in one was great and the second didn’t have the same feel.
The trailer was epic.
I have been using the single set approach but not eating as well as you recommend. Still seeing amazing strength gains if not muscle mass.
Thanks Tim, thanks for being bold.
Tim – this post is awesome!
You once said you take notes like so people take drugs, if reading your blog was a harmful substance I would be the biggest addict on the planet!
… and I’m glad you did end the final cut with you at the end, that just looked super-cheesy.
This post is amazing! definitely one that will be bookmarked and referenced to many times. Until the launch of your book, I’ve never seen a trailer for a book but the way that you pulled it off is great!
I’m not sure if I’ll do a trailer for my future book, but you definitely inspired me to think outside the box for promotion.
Excellent. Thank you for taking the time to make it detailed.
As someone using 4hww principles to go from cubicle dwelling engineer to video production extraordinaire, I thank you for taking the time to write this post. I consider Adam Patch my new idol now.
That was pretty awesome. Definately enjoyed an inside look at how this type of thing is made, the costs involved, ect. Music licensing looks like quite a headache. Do you actually end up paying ALL those parties involved? Or one party who pays out cash to others (ie. royalties to the song writers ect.)?
FABULOUS!!!! You never disappoint Tim! Thanks for being such an inspiration!
Love it when posts are this long and detailed. Excellent trailer man – I was totally entertained the first, second, third, etc. time I’ve seen it. It just grabs ya. The music was worth it no? Way to go fellow Tim.
Your video changed marketing!
You keep upping the bar.
Looking forward to meeting you one day,
glad i got you two in touch, the trailer turned out awesome!
David, you ROCK! Adam was a hidden gem and I wouldn’t have come across him myself. Huge thanks for the suggestion!
Excellent. And I gave Adam a call last week after reading Charlie’s last post on the book’s marketing. What I really like about him is his seemingly inherit inability to do things half assed. I was looking for a fairly simple trailer for my own book about the BP oil rig explosion and, a few emails into the idea, Adam outlined his “unrealistic” requirements which included finding an actual oil rig to shoot scenes on and getting archival footage of helicopter shots after the rig exploded. The result is well above my budget but his setting the bar high – unrealistically high – doubled my desire to hire Adam. It also sounded like a lot of fun (In a Teddy Roosevelt sort of way).
But what I learned most for this short lesson is… if you want to do cool projects state high, unrealistically high, goals from the onset. This will cause anyone not fully committed to a project (or funded for) to drop out and will assure the projects that do get the green light truly do push the limits.
This was a very inspiring post Tim. Please do more of this. Cheers to you!
You’re an inspiration! Thanks for sharing.
Jeez… musicians eh?
I couldn’t keep a straight face when I saw you at the end of the trailer. There was a slight smirk on your face too, probably thinking, “This is the lamest thing I’ve ever done. Dear Lord”. 🙂
Yes, something like that 🙂
Fantastic explanation of the entire process, guys and mad props!
It’s awesome that a good piece of music or art can inspire a whole new and separate creative work.
Vibes which are good
Truly great visuals, sound and edit on your trailer!
I just launched a new web-series, and sound is more important than the video in someways, crazy how often it gets overlooked.
Thanks for sharing.
If you ever need music for a trailer again, you have a reader who can help clear or provide.
Great work by all involved!
Thank you for the offer, Wesley. Much appreciated.
You sure seem to have lot of plants in your house. Who takes care of them when you are roaming round the world?
Maybe a blog article about how to take care of plants and other sundries when you take a long trip.
Thanks for the post. I can’t even imagine writing a book – let alone doing a trailer for a movie. My goal for the year or two is to turn my blog into a book. Tough getting traffic, but it’s a great learning process and thanks to 4HWW, I’ve come to realize the benefit of setting goals (even if possibly unattainable). Gracias !
As an actor/film maker..I really appreciated this post!
As a long time enthusiast and novice in video production, I greatly appreciate seeing the Adam’s processes and pre/post edit work. Thank You!
Side note-I recently attended a talk with Gary Vaynerchuck where he pointed out that Techcrunch (among other major players) recently adopted the Facebook Login for commenting on their blog. Wondering if you’ve considered this is a way to integrate the FB platform to a wider scale with 4Hblog? Cheers -George-
I’m glad you brought this up, as I’ve thought about the FB integration for a while. I’ll do a round 2 and check it out again.
Nice post. I’ve been watching Jump City Seattle on G4 since it began and recognized Brian Orosco from your trailer! He’s really stepped up since Levi broke his arm in the episode against Miami Freerunning. I predict him and the rest of team Tempest will beat team Rouge in the finals.
thanks for this blog post. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes, and both trailers, the one with the 80/20 graph and the even more exciting real world trailer looked incredible! I’m going to go buy your book now. :>
Very nice Tim. I love using Adobe After Effects.
Hey Tim. Sorry this isn’t related to your post. Just wanted to thank you again for both books, and while I have yet to quit my day job and/or generate a MUSE, you certainly have changed my outlook and goals for the future. I was inspired to create my own run logging and charting web application (www.runcharter.com). It is currently not set up to generate any income (haven’t even bothered with adsense yet), and isn’t the most ground-breaking site in the world…but it was fun to work on something I actually care about vs. my day job and I think some people will find it useful.
I would like to be involved in the process of creating and filming a movie or even a short story.
OM-Gosh, love it! Amazing…
Freaking loved this post.
Great trailer Tim. For a moment there I thought this was a trailer for a movie.
I like how there’s only part of the white board showing in the deadlift shot 😉 That’s the one difference between the two.
Take another look at the power rack behind Mark (or, more accurately, to his right) 🙂
lol Yeah, I actually didn’t see that until AFTER I posted my comment. Go figure.
great stuff there! Im trying to produce a showreel at the moment. I was wondering what is the budgetary alternative for someone that doesnt have £12,000 to produce it?
great stuff! Im trying to do a show reel myself for my muse however I just had one question, logistically what is the budgetary alternative to spending $12,000?
Actually, it’s the machine and the white board
I watched the trailer after i had already read through the book. it just made me appreciate it even more. and i love making of pieces like this. Thanks, Tim. Next time you’ve got a hankering for some Thai food in SF you should check out Regent Thai on the corner of 29th and Church. my girlfriend brought me there, and i absolutely love it. Thanks again for everything!
I will absolutely be using this as a case study to figure out how to sell corporate videos. I have a great team of people, all ready and good to go to make this level of video, and nobody interested on plunking down money for it. We’ve been contacting a trillion boutique beer shops, wine distilleries, basically anything that involves a complex and very visually attractive process.
But nobody wants to plunk down 2 grand for it. If i have to write one more in-depth highly visual awesome treatment only to hear “2 grand is too much. What can you do with 400 dollars?” i’ll kill someone.
I simply will not compromise on quality. If i get pidgeonholed as they guy that produces barely decent corporate videos for 400 dollars, that’s the only calls im gonna get. Plus, making this at 2 grand price already means everyone is working almost pro-bono, on the premise that they get to show off great cinematography skills that they can use as leverage to jump into movies, high-end advertising, whatever.
I’ve tried all sorts of ways of approaching them, to no avail. We have a good reel of past work, even stuff that has travelled across the world.
I’ll just try something even more raw and brave in my next few cold-calls.
Glad to see someone valuing the hard work behind these types of videos!
Puffy heart love the trailer. I’ve been following the FHD for a couple weeks. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I’m filled with hope and if I ever start to doubt my stick-to-it-ive-ness, I’m gonna drag my recovering-chunky butt right back here and watch that trailer again.
Thanks Tim! – Kirsten
Better than many movie trailers and in my opinion the best book trailer I have seen to date. I HAD to buy the book after seeing your trailer.
Love the post Tim,
We have been toying with the idea for a while of using a professional video on our homepage and this post has inspired us to ‘do things properly’.
I think people underestimate the power of video, as just recently we released a simple video interview ‘If faith was a muscle, would you exercise it?’ and our hits went through the roof.
Curious Tim – was Neil Strauss new book trailer inspired by yours? Very similar styling
Your place looks sweet in your videos; I think a Cribs-style video would make a fun ending to the next Random Show!
Thanks for the great comments, guys. It might not always be obvious, but I read them all.
Have a fantastic weekend,
Really freakin cool how consistently thorough you are. Thanks dude. Fascinating post.
Awesome post Tim! It’s so detailed and emphasized! Thanks for the info mate! m/
Thanks Tim for another amazing post, and inspiration. I am going to use the post in an Intro to Marketing Class, and my wife may in her Sports & Entertainment Marketing Class. Also sent it on to the graphics teacher for all the great behind the scenes insight. Great for case studies. Thank you.
Also, going to give my teenage son 4HWW to read and sent him this. His is talented graphics artist and looking at film schools right now. Suggesting he contact Adam Patch, and letting him read through your book, and some blogs about contacting mentors.
Finally, thanks for the great quotes that I use in class for students – too often they are not exposed to enough positive ideas so love sharing inspirational quotes to them, and when come from a living person who is achieving their dreams they are especially meaningful to students.
At beginning of each semester, I finish my introduction with this quote,
“Per ardua ad astra” (Through difficulties to the stars).
Thanks again, looking forward to the next great post.
Fantastic trailer – I was blown away when I first saw it. Well worth $12k! Adam and his crew were outstanding. Detail of the shoot in this post is much appreciated.
Tim, have you thought of going the cinematic rout for your next production? It seems like a natural course for you. Directing/producing a documentary could possibly get more people to catch on to your next vision than a book.
I marvel at books like 4HB. What an undertaking. With two books under your belt, I think that director/producer Tim Ferriss is the next challenge you could be up for. Thoughts?
I loved that you showed the “failed” ending. And yes it was hilarious. Mostly because it sort of looked not so much as if you landed from a high jump, with a lot of energy but more like you stepped into it with a kind of “ta-da! Here I am!” feel similar to a cheap magician popping up from a puff of smoke, but with the emotion of “oh this is going to suck” on your face.
It had me laughing for a couple of minutes straight! Great work on the video in the end though. Really interesting to see this kind of behind the scenes work.
I saw your trailer almost the day it came out and I’d been following you for a while at that point, so I already knew how much work had gone into its creation just based on your past endeavors and I was impressed right away.
What I have to say now is how consistently impressed I am by your willingness to share your processes and the costs involved, and the way you do your best to try to inspire people to follow in your success. That’s really telling about character:
Many people see life as a pie and they’re afraid if they share info about their success the way you do they’ll lose pie-share. You see life as a river where anyone can dip in and there’s enough to go around, and that gives you a vision of reality that few people are able to fully appreciate.
Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you for it. I teach specialized courses in muscle testing – next time I’m in San Fran, if you’re around I’ll look you up and show you some cool stuff. It will be nice to turn the tables and share something with you for a change, lol.
This isn’t about this post, but I loved the NYT article on you! As a fan for a long time, I think the writer did a great job capturing you. I especially loved this line- “Mr. Ferriss, positioning himself somewhere between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk.”
Keep up the great work!
Excellent and detailed explanation of what it takes to produce a first class trailer
I understand the value of having a trailer for a book release, but some parts were a little odd…..I would have liked to see the part of the guy randomly jumping over the rail left out… and maybe include some shots of “extreme sports” (ie triathlete, climbing, snowboarding) instead, as this are more applicable to people.
Yeah i know there is a budget, but still would have been cool.
I kind of agree with the flying man part, but it’s creative and different where as triathlete, snowboarding, and climbing shots are a dime a dozen. One thing for me that’s missing is foley sound in the later parts of this video. Yeah, I know the music is in heavy, but if seeing is believing, than hearing is feeling. Man getting out of pool, weight lifter, runner, women with kettle weight, and flying man, all need subtle foley in my opinion. Definitely a solid piece of work, very nice!!
Fun post Tim.
I was just scratching my head on how I could create a cool trailer for my blog. Coincidental — unless you left a prob in my brain with all the mind hacking. 🙂
So I got some great pointers. Epipheo looks really cool.
This is right out of the Tim Ferriss playbook for promoting a book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiVuZ-IdcyE
I think you are setting a trend in short book promotion videos. In my opinion creating an eye catching videos that get people interested and intrigued without a ton of time or words is more than welcomed.
Way to blaze yet another path.
Just to let you know tim, before I was in doubt, to buy the book, thinking I would’ve read it somewhere on the net.
but when the Video Cam out. Dude. I end up having 4 Copies. The Video was playing literally almost everyday, the Guitar, the image of Smelly (Mark Bell) and Bmack and the Pool dude..
Man, up until this moment, The vid is playing on and on in my head.
If you like SevenDust, you’ll really like an english hardcore punk band called Gallows. I have no affiliation with them whatsoever–I’m just a fan of good music. If you end up checking them out, I’d like to hear what you think.
I just wanted to drop a few lines and say that the tips from your 4 hour body book has been the ultimate fat loss guide..that not only do the tips work like magic in helping my boyfriend lose so much body fat in just 3 weeks. (5 kilos in total weight loss… we are not sure of how much fat, but his waistline is 5 centimeters smaller), but it has drastically improved his health in general.
Now I’m recommending all my loved ones to check out your book. My mother is now following the supplementary diets you recommend to try to lower her LDL and i hope this will put her off the statin meds for good.
Thank you so much for sharing it with us!
I barely watch any book trailer around, in fact, not much of it.
This is awesome~~ Once again breaking the old rules.
Thanks so much for the 4 hour body. Been on the slow carb diet since the 2nd week of January and have lost 32 lbs. I’m not bored yet with the foods and I’m really just getting use to massive change from my previous diet.
This trailer was truly one of my favorite parts of the book launch. I watched your process intensely as you launched the book and when you topped it off with the trailer I said to my girlfriend, “Tim’s a genius!” … Getting a look into the background of how you did this have become some of my favorite posts of all time! Seriously Tim, keep posts like these coming. They are learning experiences and definitely insight we all love to see.
Keep rockin your thing brother…
Great post Tim! This is an excellent example of using traditional video production to produce commercial content. We ourselves moved away from doing this due to demand on animation and video presenters but I’m glad you got a solid result. Question: would you say the creative input came from your side more or from Adam. I guess he brought your vision to life but did he come up with specific ideas to give the trailer that extra punch?
Again Congrats on an excellent trailer and we’re looking forward to seeing the next on for your new book!
Looking back, would you have secured music rights first? Then built the production on it?
Ending story great example of how a bad idea or execution leads to a great one. It’s about the book after all.
Being willing to play/work with the ‘bad version’ leads to new possibilities and a better one. Moving forward with good instead of looking for perfect.
Got on this by reading FHB and applying Prehab and reversing permanent injuries. Can’t stop showing people Turkish Get Up and asking ‘stability before strength’ model questions.
Nice content post.
Good news for the used gopro camera (underwater shot), you can now also buy an lcd bacpac to click on the gopro.
You can watch the video live or replay the saved video on your gopro.
I htink that the gopro is really the best price/quality HD-camera on the market at this moment
Hi tim ,
I read in one of your comments that you are going to do some research about hair loss .I want to inform that i’m sure i have what you want .
One day i took a shower and sat in the living-room, my mother sat near me and look at my head saying”hey abdel your are loosing your hair , there is a lot of space in your head !!” I was really afraid …
The next day I started reading a book that i baught before (cuz i noticed that i was loosing hair ) and started applying the directives .
Today, after more than one year i’m very satisfied in stopped loosing hair and even getting the empty space filled (in my head )
I really think it’s the best !!
It will take time and effort but the result is worth
I’m sure that you will like it
send me an email
By the way i’m a big fan and u r a genius !!
thank u for everything !!
Could you post the book name for all of us who would like to check it out and not wait for Tim to?
As I was watching the first rough cut and waiting for the ending, I was waiting to laugh based on what was said. However I actually liked it. The way it was shot looked good. With some effect like Adam said it would have been really cool.
This trailer shows that just using DSLR cameras for video is pretty amazing. Sure the lenses cost way more than that but they’re good for videos.
Thanks for writing all this out. I love behind-the-scenes movie magic.
I’m also having trouble with music licensing. I tried doing it myself, but it was too time consuming. I then tooked all over, couldn’t find anyone on elance to outsource it to – if you find any easier pathways, can you please share?
Same issue here. 🙁
Oh, and I forgot to thank you Tim, for your excellent instructions on how to make the trailer. Please keep posting more such awesome articles. 🙂
I bought a low glycemic bar but now I am in doubt if I should eat it because it has “high fructose corn syrup” as one of its ingredients. Its glycemic index is between 22-28. The bar’s brand is Solo Gi. I and a bunch of people from Brazil would love to get your answer on this.
Thank you so much!!!!!
Such an in-depth look behind the scenes. I always have loved that on DVDs seeing what actually happened. I wish more people do this on their blogs. Once again, awesome content. Keep them coming Tim!
I’m late to the party, but that was so freaking awesome! I love how you included the benefits into your trailer using powerful sentences. Love the idea for marketing your book. And the chemistry concoctions are cool.
WAOW!!! After reading the entire post I can see now that $40 – 50,000 was in fact not a typo at all!! Great post! Where there is a will there is a way. I’ll bet it was fun putting it all together though, in spite of the time it took and practically taking your place apart with lights and easils!
Absolutely amazing video! Already bookmarked the page. Looking forward to reading the book!
It’s usually the opposite, but in this case the video was much better than the book!
You’re hot!!! : )
Thank you for opening people up to the possibilities of media marketing. After reading both of your books long and hard, over and over again, I feel that I’ve finally decided the path I’ll be leading from here on out; integrating all of my talents as an actress/educator and model, etc., into a TV Show that going to have people seeing the world in a whole new light. One of these days, I’d love to meet you and give you a big hug for being so “cool”. Thanks for expressing your perspective on living life so fully, and being one of the few who actually seeks the “real deals” out there. Peace!
Tim, you are a nutbag! And I love your stuff! I was almost having a stitch from laughing so hard while going through the 4HB book. It was insane!
I lost five inches in the first two weeks. Have not measured myself since as I have been travelling for the last four weeks. Had to go off the AGG and PAGG because of severe acid reflux (and also on advice from my kinesiologist). My goal this year is to look SUPER H.O.T and to get on the cover of TIME magazine. So watch out world, I’m on fire and sizzling! Oooh la la~
I read this post hoping for insight into DIY filming. Instead, the part about the music licensing is what caught my attention.
In today’s age and with the mainstream music industry in decline, having to jump through hoops like that is just archaic. This strikes me as an opportunity for a small company to revolutionize music licensing for today’s market.
Or for an independent band to knock down all hurdles and allow easy licensing directly from them. I know bands that are just dying to have a chance to get into film or commercial.
Tim, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to use this as the source for a new blog post on my site.
Oh, and my site I created by being inspired by The Four Hour Work Week. And I lost 20lbs using The Four Hour Body. Thank you, and I look forward to your next work!
Absolutelty God-like post Tim!!
Tim for the Nobel Peace prize?!
Tim, that video was so effective. I had been anticipating the book for a while, but when I saw the video, I was like, that was over the top in a great way. I became giddy as a school girl to get my copy of the book. Truly awesome!