Game of Thrones, one of HBO’s most successful series, is the feature in a recently released trailer. Besides revealing enough information to generate excitement, it also answers fan questions about the upcoming fourth season and could possibly attract new fans.
A featurette, often found in DVD extras or offered as filler on network television programming gaps, is mostly a predictable affair. The main actors talk about their characters, the director says what sets this work apart, perhaps the producer offers a sound bite on how hard or glamorous the production was and a few scenes are displayed. Fans get to feel like insiders and if the trailer is successful, new viewers may be enticed to watch the full series as the credits roll.
HBO’s trailer hits all these points, as it must, but it also has a slightly different feel that almost makes it feel like a video version of an extended Twitter thread or a Reddit AMA. That is, a popular social network QA session called “Ask Me Anything.”
Alternating between the typical chapter title overlays (used as pacing elements), are fan’s Twitter questions, formatted with loving detail to fit the mythical typography of the world presented in Game of Thrones.
Cast members are featured throughout the trailer as they respond to fan questions, providing answers that hint at season four story developments and sometimes reveal specific events which may attract new fans to the Game of Thrones series. The way these questions are answered by actors, with authentic enthusiasm and disarming informality, makes it clear that the actors are to be understood as fans of the show. One of the most recognizable characters of the show, Tyrion, played by Peter Dinklage, is explicitly referred to as being essentially “an audience member.”
The producers also use the trailer to makes clear to their audience that the narrative structure of past seasons, with many episodes of background exposition, and setup building to an over the top finale, will be superseded in the new season with more drama, action, and climactic events in each episode. This is in part a response to audience feedback.
Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in the series, offers a comment when discussing the symbolic significance of her character’s pets and protectors, “They are dragons in a non-dragon world.” The social media audience is the dragon in the non-dragon world of big budget entertainment. Starting out small and having only marginal influence – “adorable little babies,” – social media audiences have continued to grow in influence and scope, “each season they become a little more dangerous.”
This trailer demonstrates that the entire creative team behind the show understands that satisfying the audience has always been the most important part of any large scale collaborative artistic effort. They not only embrace their audience through social media but they acknowledge that they themselves are a part of the audience. This is not a criticism. It is perhaps the only way to go. As Daenerys says, “They can live in my new world or they can die in their old one.”
Fans will get answers to all of their questions and more when Season four of Game of Thrones begins on April 6, but until then the trailer below might help attract new fans and at least keep the dragons at bay.
By Brian Ryer
Los Angeles Times