Thursday, October 20, 2005

Leaving a bruise.

The test screening last night was very telling.

Here we go:

1) The movie is a teen film but it is not for teens. The teenage audience that we recruited didn't quite get it. A few of them seemed to really like it, but a majority didn't. They felt it was awkward, which as Melody pointed out is probably not a bad thing. They picked it apart big time. They made some very valid points and equally strange and unhelpful observations. I opted to listen to the teen discussion instead of the adults. My friend Melody moderated. I don't think the kids knew I was in the back scribbling notes because they were brutally, brutally honest. Which was a great thing and what test screenings are for, but boy, oh boy did it cut listening to them. They hated some characters, thought certain actors were "hot" and didn't understand why these four friends hung out together. I wanted to pipe up and say, "These were my friends and we were all very different from one another. That's not so strange!" There was definite crossover in some of their criticism with the adults and some completely opposite reactions which I found pretty interesting. The crossover is what we'll focus on.

2) I went home after the screening feeling pretty shitty. I popped in the tape that Lorie recorded the adult discussion on and sat up until almost 2am listening to their completely contrasting take of the film. The adults got it. They kept saying it was real, honest, authentic, was true to the way people grieve. To hear that meant everything to me. They had an affection and love for certain characters that the teens hated. They found the film nostalgic and reminiscent of their own adolescence. It really spoke to the adults and I think maybe the thing is, is that the teenagers probably haven't experienced the loss of a loved one yet. And maybe that's why they had such a knee jerk reaction. They haven't been through that sort of grief yet. I don't know. But regardless, it was incredibly helpful to figure out that they're not our audience. The adults reiterated that our audience goes to the arthouse theaters. I knew that deep down all along. I would hope that my friends from high school would've seen this film and understood, but then again, maybe we wouldn't have. I don't know. I don't think I truly understood grieving over a loved one until a few weeks ago. And there was one small piece of that experience that I don't think I got right in the film. I plan to shoot another scene to remedy that.

Everyone wanted more of the mom, to understand the older brother and to have less alcohol. The alcohol we can't do much about but the mom and brother, we can.

One thing is that the audience was pretty divided on the ending. I've always been firm with that ending. I don't want to cater to things wrapping up neatly and happily. That's not the way life works. I'm standing my ground on that one.

The things that Nevie and I will work on from here on out:
a) Putting a tiny bit of the mom back in.
b) Carefully bringing a little bit more life to Jimmy's character.
c) Shooting a new scene with Bryan.
d) Reworking the introduction to the mom and brother.
e) Tweaking

Test screenings are tough. They give you thick skin. And it's good to sit there and take it like a man, or a woman. They give you fresh perspective. Especially from people who don't know you from Adam. They can be really painful and they can be very validating. And sometimes they can leave you with a nasty bruise. But with a little bit of care, it'll go away. Lorie said that Nevie and I finally found it with this cut. That we unearthed the spine of the film. That we're pretty damn close. I agree. Stacy asked me this morning as I was still trying to pull myself up from the harsh words of the teens whether I would reshoot anything or conjure up a bunch of new scenes had I tons of money to work with. I sat there and thought long and hard. No. I want to shoot this one, simple scene and that's it. Just like in "cicadas", I embrace every flaw. I'm proud of every mistake. I'd rather make it, grow from it and move on. I'm really fucking proud of this film. And I'm really fucking proud of every hand and heart that went into making it.

1 comment:

mom said...

i am so proud of our daughter, who can take criticism and make it work and grow from within. that takes raw courage and a humility that i find very rare. she has ever been that as a child and is growing into the kind of caring young woman we knew she would be.
the pain of a death hits people differently. kat knew utter sadness over aarons recent death because it was the end of a possiblity....his possiblity of a good long life. however, aaron will be immortalized in this film and his goodness will live on in all who see it.
kat's brutal honesty on the screen complete with all the mistakes is still some of the best and most brilliant filmmaking i have ever seen....and i ought to know as her mom....about some of the scenes in this film and cicadas. will they get it...? dunno....i have seen movies that noone else seemed to understand. perhaps that is the beauty of can mean so many different things that even the director never intended, but may be helpful to the viewer. so go girl.. i too am really (.........)proud of this film and your entire crew. love, mom