Trailer Editor Anaïs Bimpel: The Creative Genius behind the Rhythmic Trailer Trend

Portia Leigh
8 min readSep 6, 2018

Modern filmmaking has evolved to make practically any creative vision backed by a large enough budget achievable on screen. But larger budgets require even larger sales at the box office — so how do massive productions ensure that their film opens to a packed house? The answer lies within an exciting and unforgettable film trailer.

As filmmakers continue to innovate, so do the trailer editors who work diligently behind the scenes to craft those powerful snippets of intrigue that ultimately get audiences to the theatres.

Trailer editor Anaïs Bimpel in Los Angeles, CA

Trailer editor Anaïs Bimpel is not only among the best in the industry today, but her unique approach and the fearlessness she brings into her editor’s suite when it comes to taking ‘risks’ has sparked a new style in modern trailer editing.

“To me, a good trailer must intrigue. It gives you the question-mark around the movie. As long as a trailer gives you the feeling and the tone of the movie, it’s enough, you don’t need to give away too much, when the movie allows it. After all, we try to make people want to know more about the story and draw them to the theaters,” says Bimpel. “That was my approach with ‘The Handmaiden’.”

For Chan-wook Park’s (“Oldboy”) 2016 dramatic crime film “The Handmaiden,” which earned over 60 awards including the BAFTA Film Award and was chosen as an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival, Bimpel’s trailer not only got audiences into theatres and helped the film pull in over $37 million at the box office, but it changed the trailer editing game entirely.

The trailer is a powerful example of the potential creativity that is possible when cutting a film trailer. Bimpel’s work becomes something of an individual entity: the high degree of artistic expression allows it to stand alone, and the audience swallows it up as if it were a short film in itself.

“I had freedom in the creative process,” says Bimpel. “I’m more than grateful that Empire Design gave me carte blanche. It’s always exciting to have free reign before starting to cut a trailer.”

The striking sound effects and titillating music combined with the provocative visuals and adrenaline-fueling pace make the trailer an exhilarating and masterful work of art; and it put Bimpel on the map as one of the most bold and innovative trailer editors in the industry today. Featuring Vessel’s song ‘Red Sex’ and earning the Music Week Sync Award for Best Sync Film Trailer, the trailer was celebrated by the film industry’s most elite media outlets, including IndieWire, ranking it as one of the 12 Best Movie Trailers of 2016 alongside “La La Land” and “Moonlight.”

Opting to leave out any of the film’s Japanese or Korean dialogue and revealing close to nothing about the film’s actual plot, Bimpel’s trailer commands our attention with an urgent rhythm of beautifully twisted shots she ingeniously pieced together from the film.

She admits, “Honestly, my best experiences as a trailer editor are when I decide to show as little as possible about a movie. If I find a way to catch the audience attention, drawing people to the theatre without giving away too much, then I did my part of the job. But I have to say, that’s so hard to do these days. With ‘The Handmaiden’ we had the chance to make it possible and the critics have been unexpectedly positive.”

Outlets were still fawning over the groundbreaking trailer a year after the film’s release, with Collider even noting that it marked the beginning of the industry’s “rhythmic trailer” trend. It seems everyone in the industry was taking note of Bimpel’s work. After becoming ‘obsessed’ with the trailer for “The Handmaiden,” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts requested that the marketing team at Warner Bros. cut a new trailer based on Bimpel’s for his blockbuster film “Kong: Skull Island” within a few weeks of the film’s release.

In an IMDb exclusive interview, Vogt-Roberts says, “I saw the trailer for that film [The Handmaiden] and the trailer is such a rhythmic piece of art onto itself. It’s just like a beautiful short film. And so I went to the studio [Warner Bros Studio] and said, ‘Guys, I think we need to cut something crazy, something that really lets people know how different this movie is, that it’s not your normal King Kong film…I just wanted something that was rhythmic and out there and sort of bucked the trend of these traditional trailers.”

Bimpel says, “‘The Handmaiden’ has been my favorite trailer to cut so far… The most challenging part was to take the risk to present to the client something unusual. ‘The Handmaiden’ had nothing to do with a traditional trailer but I have to confess that the directors’ aesthetic approach and choices helped a lot.”

Every artist has their individual creative process and Anaïs Bimpel is no different. In order to encapsulate the energy of a two hour film into 60 seconds (give or take) and create these incredibly stylized works of art that fuel sales at the box office, she begins by watching the film all the way through, giving herself the freedom to be transported by the story as any regular audience member would in the theatre.

“I have to make sure I’m getting the tone right and can capture that vision,” she explains. “It’s important to me to keep this first impression in the raw. I’ll watch the movie hundreds of times thereafter, so I have to remember what my first feeling was.”

Anaïs Bimpel at InSync Plus in Los Angeles, CA shot by Charles Faraggi

After taking notes and jotting down timecodes, Bimpel breaks down the film in terms of dialogue, characters, wide shots and theme shots that speak to the genre, i.e. jokes in a comedy film. After condensing the film down to 10 or 15 minutes she begins making connections and crafting the trailer.

“I’ll start writing a script. I need to put down my ideas on a notebook before I start cutting a trailer. In this way, I’ll get a quick vision of what trailer will be. I can quickly see if the narration works. Does it answer the questions: who, when, where, what’s the situation? I’m usually setting up a character and a situation. That can be a first part,” explains Bimpel. “I’m often setting up a conflict or obstacle, that’s part two. The rest will be about the pace and style and the manner in which it’s handled. Then I’ll take time making a music selection for each part.”

What separates Bimpel’s trailers from the mainstream and makes them impossible to forget is the way she narrates the emotional energy of the film — and while we might not really understand what is actually going to happen in the film, we sure as hell want to find out.

“Trailers are all about rhythm, pacing and feeling… most times 70 percent of a good trailer comes from great music. Many recognized trailers are defined by a single piece of music,” explains Bimpel. “Sometimes 70 to 80 percent of the job can be trying to find that perfect piece. We can spend days trying to find the best music.”

She personally chose the main music in the trailer for Ben Wheately’s dramatic sci-fi film “High-Rise” starring Oscar Award winner Jeremy Irons, Golden Globe Award winner Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller and several other A-List actors. Yet another example of Bimpel’s remarkable work as a trailer editor, the music, the pacing and the riveting visuals she created generate a palpable energy that drive audiences to the theater. The trailer is a masterpiece for sure, and the music she chose is nothing short of perfection.

“I had ‘Date Kiss’ from Com Truise on my iTunes for years. It was a fantastic piece of music — the flavor, the atmosphere with some intriguing electro vibes which I love. I’d always been looking for the right project to line things up. And then when ‘High-Rise’ came along, I started to consider that song. I put the track on my timeline and the magic happened,” recalls Bimpel.

It takes more than just refined editing skill to craft a trailer that turn heads and builds audience anticipation, while simultaneously avoiding plot spoilers. The artist must be a risk taker. When millions of dollars are riding on a project, as is the case with the trailers Bimpel creates, this is easier said than done. However, through her work to date, it’s easy to see that she is one of the rare talents who continually goes against the grain to achieve something great.

She says, “To me, the most important is to surprise the audience, showcasing them something that they never saw before, something that they would remember. I’m keen to take risks and if a company likes adventure too, then we can do amazing work.”

In both her work as a trailer editor and in navigating her career, Anaïs Bimpel is no stranger to taking risks. In fact, the successful position she finds herself in today can be roughly traced to a choice she made when she was just starting out nearly a decade ago in Paris, France. After cold calling creative production companies from the public directory and landing an interview with Hands Up Family, Bimpel signed on as the group’s video editor. The risky part was that she was still in school.

“I quit school one year before the other students. It was a risk but I really wanted to work. I made everything possible to prove that was not a mistake,” recalls Bimpel. “With the passing of time, I can say that I’m glad I made this decision. Maybe my future would have been totally different if I hadn’t met with Hands Up Family.”

Clearly, she made the right choice. Bimpel, who has also been key in creating television promos for some the most popular films over the last few years, including Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, The Foreigner, The Lego Ninjago Movie, Cars 3 and more, says that there a lot of things that she loves about her job, first and foremost is her love for music and photography, which she says are the essence of video editing.

“I’m handling cutting-edge directors’ material, and my job is to reflect their work and represent that in a trailer. That’s one of the exciting parts of my job… being able to get into the heads of the characters in the stories and the minds of the people who are putting these films together and live in that world for a while is an amazing experience,” says Bimpel. “It’s never redundant, every time I’m working on a new movie, I’m travelling through time, all around the world or even outer space.”

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Portia Leigh

Portia is a journalist & poet from Los Angeles. You can find her work through №3 Magazine, ElephantJournal.com, Gypsyrich.com, Stillstoked.com and more.