The Value of Test Screening your Indie Film

Sheri Candler presents her perspective on test screening and why she thinks it’s an important step of the Indie Filmmaking process.

No amount of marketing will save a film that needs improvement. Many times I am sent films that need a few more editorial passes or maybe some reshoots to get it at the level it needs to be in order to release successfully.  Mostly these rough cuts are accompanied by a caveat from the filmmaker that this is a temp sound mix or color grade, but that isn’t really what I am looking for. I want to know that the story doesn’t have structural problems, that the pacing isn’t flabby, that the acting is strong. Coloring and music can be easily fixed, but poor acting will make the film hard to save and no amount of clever marketing is going to work for a film that isn’t strong.  It isn’t worth spending significant time and money on marketing a title for a film that really won’t find an audience, not even on the torrent sites.

Test screening the film while in post production is a good way to gauge what an audience will think of your film. While Hollywood studios do this on a regular basis, they usually select a cross-section of the population because they want their film to appeal to a mass audience. They also can use it as a way to badger a director to change endings that fit their point of view, change a story to fit better into a certain, more lucrative demographic or figure out how best to market a title that needs to appeal to a very diverse audience. I am not advocating using your test screenings like this though. You NEED to make sure that the film stands up to audience scrutiny by your core audience, those for whom you made the film. These people are not your friends, the cast, or your family because those people generally offer enthusiasm, not unbiased opinion. What you are looking for is real feedback from people who should like the film you have made, but have no vested interest in sparing your feelings.

Sheri Candler | Read the Full Article