Go backBack to selection


in Filmmaking
on Apr 29, 2011

Cinema SpeakeasyIn other places I’ve talked about our process for trying to vet a story ahead of time. We’ve had script readings, we’ve made small test videos expressing the tone we would shoot for in the feature. We’ve shot shorts with the characters from the feature.

Now in the rough cut phase, we’re about to have a test screening of my feature film, The Lost Children, on May 4th. This screening is generously provided by Cinema Speakeasy out in L.A. The purpose of this screening is to show a rough cut and get some audience feedback before we lock. We will do one in NYC as well, though I’m not yet sure when.

I was going to go out to L.A. for this, but decided against it because I didn’t want to influence the audience. Meaning, I didn’t want to hang with them, or get to know them at all, I just wanted them to come in blind and be as honest as they could be without worrying about hurting my feelings or anything. Which is also why I’m glad another organization is putting on the screening. Some people I know will be there, but I really hope it’s largely an audience of strangers, so as to get as much unbiased feedback as I can. I think this is critical to the process.

First, after you’ve been staring at the picture in the edit bay for six months, you kind of don’t know what works anymore, or even why you started the damned thing.


Secondly, strangers have no stake in your success. They are there to be entertained. True, in this case it’s likely that the Speakeasy audience are film lovers, and so might give me some leeway, but still they have no reason to take time out of their evenings to help me out. So hopefully they will honestly tell me if I just wasted 90 min of their time.

I’ve been working on the questions I’d ask an audience and thought I’d throw it out here to see if anyone would like to contribute. What would you ask an audience about your film?

I’ll be back after the screening to report on the carnage in part II.

My Questions so far:

1) What is this film about?

2) Who is this film about? Which character?

3) Describe each main character without referring to their looks, clothing or occupation (hat tip to Red Letter Media)

4) What were the central themes in the film?

5) Were there parts of the film you didn’t understand? What were they?

6) Did you want to understand those parts? Were you compelled to want to know?

7) Did you want to know what happened next throughout the film?

8) Which parts did you just not buy?

9) In one word, what was the overall feeling or sense you took away from this film?

10) Who do you think this film is for?

What would you ask an audience about your film?

To learn more about Mark Harris’s project, The Lost Children, click here.

© 2024 Filmmaker Magazine. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of The Gotham