How to Make a Movie Trailer: Add “Gimme Shelter”

Everyone likes movie trailers.

Even if you ultimately don’t end up liking the actual movie, as long as the original trailer gave you goosebumps the first time you saw it then you can’t really fault yourself for forking over 10 bucks to sit through it.

The key to a good trailer is the soundtrack and how well it complements the quick shots and dramatic lines that are meshed together within the two or three minutes. Over many years of watching movies I’ve come to realize that there is one song that, when inserted into a movie trailer, can instantly make me want to see that movie.

That song is “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones.

Here are just a few examples of trailers that reached another level just by playing “Gimme Shelter” for a few seconds.


Coordinating the first seconds of “Gimme Shelter” with John Goodman entering the scene rocking a ponytail pretty much assured that I would go see this movie. It could have been about anything. I’d already fandago’ed it before the trailer was over.

Also, for those of you who might be interested, there is about 30 seconds of this film when Goodman channels his inner Walter Sobchak while talking about pain medication that may validate the movie as worth seeing all on its own.

The Departed:

You could probably argue that The Departed was a successful movie because pretty much every guy in the country will go see a Martin Scorsese movie about gangsters because they are the coolest kind of movies out there.

You could probably also argue that it was successful because just about every woman in the country is going to go see a movie that has Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Whalberg.

But I want to at least bring up the possibility that it was successful because of the first few seconds of the trailer where Jack Nicholson’s silhouette talks over “Gimme Shelter.”


Children of Men:

Some strange instrumental of “Gimme Shelter” clearly played by someone other than the Rolling Stones is played for about eight seconds at the beginning of this trailer. It’s pretty subtle, but I think it might have been the subconscious push that got me to see this movie.

I don’t know why else I would have seen it. Clive Owen’s voice is super boring and this plot sounded pretty depressing. But I saw it. And it’s an amazing movie. Thanks again, “Gimme Shelter.”


Basically Scorcese loves this song. He used it for this trailer. He used it for The Departed trailer. He aslo used it in the soundtrack for Goodfellas. Seeing as how he might be the greatest living movie director, I would say that further proves the awesomeness of “Gimme Shelter.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops:

Even video games see the power of this song.

Normally the sight of five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant firing a machine gun at people would seem strange and frightening. But with “Gimme Shelter” playing in the background it’s calming and normal.

Further Proof:

While I was trying to find the previous trailers to post for this article I came across this Youtube video made by “dolson1044” which is basically trying to prove the same point as me.

He (or her) created a trailer for The Lion King and played “Gimme Shelter” in the background the entire time. It’s a funny idea, but at the same time it totally worked. I am honestly hoping to watch The Lion King as soon as possible. That’s not even a joke, I’m really pumped.

Check mate.

-Jonny Auping

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