by Michael Chasin
You had a spectacular vision.
Now, after months—or years—of writing and rewriting, pained pre-production, production, and neck-craned to-the-monitors post-production—your film is edited.
But is that vision clear in your film—to those who don’t know the story?
Is your film smooth—or choppy—or too fast—or too slow?
As a micro budget filmmaker, you will ask friends and family who may be affectionately called civilians—to view your film and give feedback.
Civilians are non-filmmakers—who won’t be dazzled by your techniques—but who will instead view your film—as an audience would.
While your film is the center of your universe—civilians have their own lives—so before emailing your film—first ask for their agreement to view it.
After getting agreement, don’t burden your civilian viewers with a detailed fifty item questionnaire.
Instead, ask them to summarize the story in two or three sentences—and to note anything confusing or unclear.
You will likely get differing areas of clarity and confusion. But as with any sampling, as numbers increase, consensuses will develop around what is—and is not—working.
Respect your civilian’s feedback and ideas—as they are representative—of how your film will be viewed by general audiences.
And as difficult as it may be—do incorporate civilian feedback in final edits—before locking your film.
Civilian viewers are as invaluable to you—as focus groups are to the majors.
So thank your civilian viewers—not only for their time and thoughtful feedback—but also for helping to make sure that your original vision—is realized in your film.