It’s not very often someone graduates from a post-secondary program only to be hired back the following year to teach the same course.
But Allen Zuk, media designer and editor, is not your typical graduate. As a student in Humber’s Creative Book Publishing program, Zuk came up with idea of using Flash software to create promotional trailers for new books — an idea so successful he’s gone on to do trailers for publisher Harper Collins Canada. (To see some of the trailers, visit www.allenzuk.com.)
Now, Zuk is responsible for steering the futures of students in the same seats he sat in just 12 months ago.
“It was kind of weird but a lot of fun to experience the program from the instructor’s side,” he says. “I was a little shaky until I was able to settle in and relax. The students had a lot of questions, particularly about their final course projects, but also about finding work after the course,” he says.
“In terms of self-employment I remind them that it’s much easier to get started if you can offer a service nobody else offers, and in the publishing industry there is plenty of room for innovation.”
His own foray into the industry arose from a project Zuk was assigned. “We had to develop our own publishing enterprise within my group for our final course project. Having had Flash animation experience for several years as part of web design projects I had done, I found the medium well suited to promoting books,” he explains. Zuk created a few promo video trailers of some book titles and the assignment judges were in awe of his final product.
He explains that while both movie and book trailers use elements such as music, imagery, colours, graphics and text, book trailers differ in that they’re quite short and extremely selective in the detail they give to viewers.
“A good promotional trailer will whet a potential reader’s appetite for the book without giving too much away,” says Zuk. “It should be short and simple. Unlike a movie trailer, you don’t want to suggest too much in terms of how settings or characters look, because you don’t want to spoil the experience of actually reading the book.”
The trailers can be shown over the web or on presentation screens, and also adapted to TV and theatre screens.
Among the high-profile titles he’s worked on for Harper Collins Canada are Londonstani by Gautam Malkani as well as the upcoming The Weight Of Numbers by Simon Ings. “I felt very lucky to have found the perfect music for Londonstani early on,” says Zuk. “This inspired the rhythm of the visuals and helped with the overall style of the piece.”