There comes a moment in post-production when you have to show the film to strangers. It can be traumatic, so it’s best to have a system.
First-up, we do a small test-screening for friends-of-friends-of-friends and invite them to supper afterwards. They are all film people, Heads of Department, who don’t know us – or the film – but, because of their individual expertise, come at the film from a particular, professional and dispassionate point of view.
Their comments can be horribly blunt but they’re always useful. At least until the second bottle of wine…
Then we re-cut for a couple of weeks and play the film again to, at least, two decently-sized crowds of “real” people.
Now, if you’re a distributor or a studio you might be able to afford a kosher recruited-screening. That’s when a company like National Research Group or Ipsos Mori interviews punters on the street and finds exactly the right demographic for your movie. As you can imagine, filling a cinema with that many recruited–viewers costs a small fortune.
We can’t afford that so we approach companies managed by people we know and offer their staff a free-night-out in a west end cinema. The quid pro quo being that they have to answer some questions about the film after the end credits.
The response is invaluable. You get the unalloyed truth and lots of it. And you get consensus.
Although it’s not completely scientific the statistics tell you a lot about how your film “plays”. If that information is positive it’s invaluable in giving both the filmmakers and potential distributors confidence in the paying-audience’s eventual reaction.
We’re holding onto our hats but our numbers are really, really good.
There’s work to do but… they laughed, they cried and they felt uplifted at the end. All that without two keys scenes in place and with “temp” music and sound-effects.Not only that but in a mini-screening in Los Angeles the reaction was mirrored.
So, we’re excited. We’re locking the picture-cut in about two weeks before work starts in earnest on the sound, music and the picture-grade.
Next stop, distributors’ screenings. More news as it comes in.