Friday, October 3, 2008

Why test screenings are important

There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.

Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

Many filmmakers who face repeated rejection from film festivals don't understand why it's happening to them. I've seen them blame the festivals, blame the economy, blame the weather -- anything but themselves or the quality of their films. Maybe this is why: they honestly can't see that they need to start over and make a better movie.

Private test screenings with objective feedback are a crucial component in evaluating your film’s quality. Test screenings need to happen when changes can still be made and you need to be open to making those changes. Conduct as many of these screenings as you can reasonably hold, and take steps to ensure that the audience’s input is as objective as possible. Don’t take Mom’s word for it! You need to hear some approval of your film from people who don’t know you. You may discover that your picture needs just a few tweaks or that you’re in for a serious re-edit. Either way give yourself time to accomplish what needs to be done.

There are a number of common filmmaking mistakes that will almost guarantee your rejection from the film festivals to whom you submit. Chief among these: an unremarkable story, hackneyed dialogue, poor sound, a lengthy running time, inappropriate style for the festival, and bad acting. Your test screenings should help you determine if your picture needs adjustment in any of these areas.

Read Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find / They're blind to own failings, others' skills.

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