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Preview Screenings!

December 3, 2012

So tonight is our cast and crew screening of Sympathy Pains (6:30pm at Stanley Russ Hall) and next week is our open preview (also 6:30pm, also Stanley Russ Hall at UCA, but next Monday, Dec 10), and then we’ll be in Fayetteville Public Library for a screening on Sunday, Dec 16th, at 2:30pm.

I thought people might be interested in how to do audience polling for film previews – I did a lot of work gathering information  when we tested “Table at Luigi’s” and want to put the results up here in one central space.

The biggest thing I saw was to keep them open – give people suggestions, and let them ramble. You’ll get a lot of rambling, but you’ll also get a lot of good information. You’ll see a lot of different responses, but when you didn’t lead people towards anything, when you see many different people coming to the same conclusion, you know you’ve got good information.

We start with some basic “circle one” questions, which are:

  • Did you like the film? (please circle one)

Yes                        Sort Of            Not Really                        No

  • Would you recommend this film to a friend?  (please circle one)

Yes                        Maybe            Not Really                        No

And you only really pay attention to the second question. That’s what says if they’re being polite or not- give them the chance to be polite with the first question, and get what they really thought with the second question.

We also make sure to ask people for brutal constructive honesty. Don’t look to make us feel good about the film, but help us to make it as strong as it can be. But we also want to know what people like, so we don’t change or remove something that’s working.

You’ll also notice four possible responses. Give people three options, and most of the time you’ll get the middle one, because people don’t like to make choices. With four, they have to say if they kinda did or didn’t like it (or just did or didn’t).

Our open-ended questions are:

  • Given a pair of “magic scissors,” is there anything you’d snip out?
  • Anything you’d like more of?
  • Were there any moments/scenes you particularly liked? (please list them)
  • Were there any moments/scenes you particularly disliked, or felt didn’t work? (please list)
  • Were there any moments you felt annoyed, frustrated, or confused-in-a-bad-way by the movie? (please list)

I forget where I got the “magic scissors” question, but I really like that one.

Then, on the back page we list the major characters, and any big plot points, with a 1-6 scale (from “Liked it!” to “Didn’t Like It!”) asking how you felt about them. I make sure to leave space for comments if people want to add them. I also add short descriptions for the characters to help people remember who they are. And then we add generic things like “The Plot,” “The Pace,” “The Humor,” Drama,” “The Beginning,” “The End.”

For “Luigi’s” a lot of the early testing revealed that there was a major problem with the character of Stephen – people didn’t understand him. So we added a short sequence that revealed his “deep hidden secret” that the film alluded to, but needed to simply state. Once we did that, later screenings showed that now audiences were invested in him, and we needed more of an end to his story. We shot another quick bit that tied his story up, and his character became pretty popular in the film. So much that we cast the actor as the lead in “Sympathy Pains.” :) But most of those changes were the result of testing, which improved for his character with each addition.

And finally, the last question is for any other comments or suggestions. You get interesting things here, leaving it last. It may just be a space for them to put down what didn’t fit elsewhere, but I intentionally put it after the character polling, so after then think through all the characters and plot points, they have a space to write.

For those of you doing any type of polling – this is the sum total of my knowledge – hope it helps!

  1. Anonymous
    December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Will definitely use this next time around!

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