Eating, sleeping, looking for music - Barna Bedő, promo editor, trailer maker

Barna Bedő is a leading promotional editor for the market leading TV channel in Hungary – RTL. He is also an Award-winning editor of feature film trailers.

Jan 9, 2023

2 minutes maximum: that's how long it takes to decide whether to buy a ticket or click on the streaming platform. That's how long it takes Barna Bedő to "sell" a production with a preview. "Work makes me excited, I can work for days with little sleep. I'm very preoccupied with the film I'm working on, sometimes I even dream about the film I'm editing. I've also dreamed up editing solutions. That's fanaticism", he tells us about his daily professional life.

From the theatre to the editing room

Originally trained as an actor, he started his career as an actor and worked as an actor until the 2006 season, most recently at the Szolnok Theatre. However, in addition to theatre, he was always interested in film and media, so much so that he enrolled in a media course. Here, however, he soon realised that he could mainly learn the theoretical basics. So, to put the knowledge he had acquired there into practice, he became an intern at a small Hungarian TV channel. At first he worked as a redactor, then one day he went down to the basement of the company. There were the editing rooms, and there was Ágnes Ostoros, who had edited several Hungarian films and worked on TV series such as the now classic Linda. "I was simply enchanted by the sight of Ági Ostoros sitting in front of the monitors, clicking away and creating incredibly interesting things. I was so fascinated by what she was doing that I decided in a split second that this was what I wanted to do." He felt that, in some ways, the editor was "master of life and death". Because he can edit a scene that has already been shot in such a way that it can take on a whole new meaning. This was something that Barna recognised from the first minute, and it was one of the reasons why he was stuck in the editing room. The other was Ági Ostoros, with whom they developed a close friendship, in which Ági showed Barna the ins and outs of the craft and even gave him the opportunity to practice.

Euphoria in the basement

Later, when the TV channel bought a package of 60-70 films and had to cut 30-40 second promos for each of them, "All hell broke loose!" - Barna laughs. Most of the films they bought were B films, but he found one or two good ones in the crowd, and was almost intoxicated by the knowledge that he could cut films by renowned directors, as he puts it. In the basement editing room, he spent his evenings playing freely, practising editing the trailers. He felt an incredible euphoria, watching films, picking out punchy lines, exciting scenes and putting together a trailer for a film that would get people interested even if it wasn't very good. In the process, he realised that he could, in fact, take what the film had to say in a new light and create a little piece of work in its own right. From then on, Barna was passionate about watching the trailers and wanted to know everything about promotional trends in the world. "I am constantly learning and educating myself to this day. I watch everything I can." In the meantime, he was constantly trying out what he saw in others and becoming more and more daring with the materials he was exposed to. He experimented a lot with how the lyrics could be incorporated into the promo, or even how a bolder choice of music could enhance the desired effect. The resulting promos were noticed by RTL Hungary's leading promo editor - who was a classmate of Barna's at university - who offered him a job. So in 2007, Barna moved from a small Hungarian channel to market leading RTL Hungary in the promotions department. And that's where the adventure started that continues to this day. Then, by chance, he was able to get out of the television world: a former colleague recommended him to György Pálfi, who was shooting Freefall, and that's when he arrived where he had long been longing to go: the world of feature film trailers.

The trailer as a marketing tool

"I'm aware that I'm behind the times compared to the crew at the beginning of my work," explains Barna. In the case of feature films, this means that by the time he gets involved, the director and cinematographer have already been working on the film for years, for which he has to make a trailer. So, if he can, Barna starts by reading the script, then looks at the footage and does a classic marketing strategy analysis. The key here is honesty: what worked in the film and what didn't, what's better to hide and what's worth highlighting. After the analysis, he naturally highlights the strengths, regardless of what the director considers to be the key scenes from an artistic point of view. After all, the trailer maker sees the film as a well-trained viewer, and a key scene may be quite different for him, but that is the point of his job: he does not have to re-cut the film in a short version in the trailer. The trailer should give the audience an insight into the main characters of the film and their motivations in the film. To do this, they need to create a montage of the film that can evoke an emotional response from the viewer and make them curious. The trailer is an advertisement, and the aim is to maximise the volume of the audience: that is what Barna has to keep in mind. The finished feature film is a commercial product, to be sold in the same way as pasta or a soft drink in a supermarket. It has to stand out from the crowd, it has to appeal to the target audience. At the same time, of course, Barna must not lose sight of the fact that in many cases the film is like a child to the director, which is why the artistic message must not be compromised in the preliminary stages. But it is not just the director's concept that he has to keep in mind when working on a film, because every film has a distributor, a media partner or a TV company that has bought the rights, a marketing manager, a PR person, a press officer and a poster designer, a graphic designer and a trailer editor. Everybody knows that the trailer is one of the most important elements of the campaign, but because the campaign strategy is put together by a multi-member team, there are a lot of people commenting on it. The workflow can be thought of as reading the script and reviewing the footage, then making first cuts along different aspects, moods and emphases, and starting to discuss these more broadly with the rest of the marketing team and the distributor. Once there were 84 trailer versions made by Barna before the final version was ready to be shown to the audience. But the world has also changed a lot in the sense that a trailer is no longer shown in the cinema, as the rise of streaming platforms has also disrupted the world of trailers. Genre restrictions are not as strict as they used to be, and thanks to streaming platforms you can do a lot of things that you couldn't do in the cinema world before, because theatrical trailers were subject to very strict rules. And whereas in the past the only purpose of cinema and TV trailers was to get people to buy a ticket, to watch a TV show, now the aim is to keep the viewer on the platform.

Secrets from behind the scenes

Barna says the key to a good trailer is the music. "I always edit to music, it's the music that sets the tone for the trailer." There are stock music sites specifically for film trailers, you can choose from them. In most cases, the music for the trailer is not taken from the soundtrack of the film, unless it is an integral part of the film. According to Barna, he's constantly selecting music and if he likes something, he saves it for later. So a trailer maker basically eats, sleeps and chooses music.

As important as the music is, the technical background is just as important. Editing is "a technical sport, like Formula 1. It's important that as a promotional editor I'm not only at the top in terms of creativity and marketing, but also technically. Luckily, I'm really interested in that: I know a lot of editing software and I'll take any software I can get my hands on, if I don't know the software, I'll learn it. I can stay up all night watching tutorial videos to learn how it works." For him, technical perfection is as important as the message, and he doesn't compromise on that either: the final product he hands out has to be technically perfect. For this reason, he never mixes the sound or polishes the finished product, leaving it to the professionals who know best. This is also important nowadays because people watch films and trailers on devices that can only deliver the best quality. The natural medium for film trailers in 2022 is the internet and mobile phones, not the cinema screen. So a trailer "should also work on the bus that rolls over the bridge".