There are several arguments for and against showing character’s faces in a book trailer. Some say it denigrates the reading experience, others argue it’s no different than seeing a movie which then draws an audience to the source material (think Fight Club, or The Godfather). Our position has always been that it depends on the material as well as the author’s preference.

Most of the book trailers we create for publishers prefer to leave the character’s faces negative, while many of our indie authors, especially with young adult or romance novels get a thrill out of seeing their characters portrayed on screen just like in a movie.  But what if you’re in the first camp and want to simply tease the book without showing specific character details? We’ve put together a few examples of our trailers that did just that, and how we approached it from a cinematic standpoint.

Half Bad 

The primary focus in this trailer is the cage, which our team built from the ground up based on the narrative. In order to keep the character vague we approached the actor slowly from behind and used Requiem for a Dream-style cutaways to the actor’s face. Even then we only showed jigsawed portions of his face so the character remained general. You can see he’s the young man in the novel, yet audiences can still use their imaginations in visualizing him.

Untitled design

The Book of All Lovers

We’ve been told the trailer for Bruno Ribeiro’s poetry collection feels like a Terrence Malick film and dammit we’ll take it. The filmmaker’s chose to focus on the warm colors of the robed men to create the image system for the trailer. Most of the characters are filmed from behind so that even partial features are left out.


Fate’s Forsaken

Directed by the same geniuses who created the trailer for Half Bad, The Deka Brothers took a similar approach using one-set-up and pushing in, this time to reveal the partially featured, partially obscured close-up of the central character.

Untitled design

Summit Lake

The book trailer for Charlie Donlea’s mystery thriller Summit Lake keeps a distance from all the characters as it sets up the plot. There isn’t a single human face in the trailer but you get a sense of who the characters are and the mood of the novel. The director used blue color filters to bring out the dreariness.

These are of course only a few ways to approach book trailer making. Animation, author’s trailers, and Title Teasers are also very popular.

To learn more about book trailers and how they help check out this article from Creative Penn.