Monday, May 11, 2015

More screenings...

Just a brief update on the status of my shorts from last year.  Over the next couple of months all three shorts will screen at fests internationally... yes, INTERNATIONALLY.  Dad's Dead was actually invited to screen at the Milan International Film Fest in Italy as one of just 6 international shorts in competition.  Not sure of the exact dates, but the event should take place sometime in August.  Next month, Dad's Dead and The Peter Party will be heading to deadCENETR in OKC, which is awesome - it'll be my fourth year in a row having at least one film there.  Finally, Brontosaurus will be showing sometime this summer at Rooftop Films in NYC, which is the second year in a row that I'll have a film there.  Not sure, but I *might* be able to make it out to that one.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Notes on Editing... Part 4

We had our first test screening for MAD, and it went over surprisingly well.  I had thought the film would play at a more muted level of comedy, where the laughs would be a bit more sparse, but it ended up playing to belly-laughs throughout the first hour of the film.  People quieted down as the film turned into more dramatic territory, which at the time, worried me.  I'm used to having that audible feedback - laughter - as a sign that things are working.  It's easy to lose sight of that when you start to dabble in more dramatic themes. When I went over the written feedback, I was taken back to see that while the laughs died down, people were still really connecting.  As a matter of fact, the ending  tested the highest of out the three sections I broke the film down into, as you can see:

Beginning: 8.16
Middle: 8.03
End: 8.47

Another great thing I've gleaned from the test screening is the wide-ranging response to the question I posed, "which character do you identify most with?"  I thought (feared) that I would receive two particular responses repeatedly, but it was actually spread out all over the entire ensemble - meaning it seems like I did my job in creating a decently well-rounded and relatable cast of characters.  In my opinion, this is the ultimate shortcut to making a "good" film - if people can get with the characters, 85% of the work is done.

It's hard not to get a little excited after such an encouraging test screening.  Quote of the night: "your film is like if James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment especially) and Judd Apatow mated and made a movie."

I think the film is in pretty good shape right now.  Even though not one single note popped up repeatedly, there was a section of the film that I felt needed to be re-shaped in order to elicit a slightly better laugh-reaction in a scene late in the film.  This particular scene felt great on set, and even standalone when we cut it together.  We felt it was one of our 5 or 6 strongest, but alas, in the context of where it was placed in the film it didn't play nearly as funny as it should have.  What we have now done was move a few scenes around to re-contextualize emphasis on this particular scene. I think the work that Ben and I did post-screening remedied it a bit, but only another test screening can confirm.

Most everything is now in place and works at a base level.  We're starting to "lock" scenes... at this point probably about 1/4.  The rest we'll be tinkering with, primarily tightening up.  The way I wrote and shot the film, the scenes initially played anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes longer than where they're at now or where they need to ultimately be, so a lot of what we'll be doing down the stretch is continuing to take a long look at what is really necessary to move the film forward, and cut out the rest of the crap.  This is aided by the fact we mic'd up the screening as to have no debate over what "hit" and what didn't.  Our editing motto has been, "Funny stuff: is it funny enough to justify it's existence?  If NO, cut that shit.  Dramatic stuff: does it move the story along?  Does it add to the characters??  If NO, cut that shit."

Our current runtime: 92 minutes w/credits
Previous runtime: 96 minutes w/credits
Assembly runtime(estimate): 110 minutes w/credits
Ideal runtime: 90 minutes w/credits
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