I’ve finished the first cut of “Finding John Lingwood” and it’s time to find out if the John Lingwood I’ve come to know resonates with audiences. Over the next month I’ll be screening this version with test audiences to hear what they have to say.
It’s stressful, having your work critiqued, but it’s essential to getting the film ready for a premiere in fall 2018.
I have had the help of some talented crew members from time-to-time during production, but the micro-budget for this project kept me working in virtual solitude – interviewing, shooting and editing.
Although this suits my nature just fine, this is where problems can start.
No matter how hard you to try to rein in your biases and experiences, their influence creeps into your process, particularly in editing.
You easily become convinced you’ve got it right:
- The sweet little scene with a subject you’ve really connected with;
- The funny moment that makes you laugh each time you see it;
- The beautiful drone shot.
They all fight to find their way into your film. As editor you must guard and guide the story, making sure every moment, every cut, every visual advances the narrative.
The ruthlessness required is simply beyond me.
This is when I depend on members of the test audience. They poke your soft spots, call you back when you wander from the storyline and question every awkward moment.
Sometimes you just want to bury your head in the sand – pour a glass of wine and ignore the advice. But that is hardly useful. So when I do a screening, I strive to open my heart and head; I take notes; I consider every comment.
For the filmmaker, the challenge is not only to listen, but also to try to understand. Feedback can’t always be taken literally; improvements are often found by changing something other than the specific quibble.
Here’s the thing: I have never found my work to get worse after a test screening. It has always … always gotten better.
Not everyone can be part of the test audience so, as a thank you for reading this post, I’ve included a little taste of the first cut of “Finding John Lingwood” – a clip of my work so far on the opening credits.
I’m hoping to achieve three things:
- Evoke the period, 1955-1996,
- Set a tone of the film,
- Reflect the character of John Lingwood.
It’ll be hard to judge these criteria without see the entire film, but I would love to hear your thoughts just the same. Please comment below.