If you’re a filmmaker who’s got a film that’s nearing completion, you’re probably going to want to get some opinions on it before you think you’re ready. This involves test screenings. Given that I’ve been hosting some of these screenings through THIS MEETUP GROUP, I’ve learned a few things that work and others that don’t.
1. Invite people who aren’t filmmakers
While the very first people you’ll want to get feedback on your cut from probably ARE filmmakers, they won’t be the only people you want to talk to about your project. Filmmakers tend to understand the process a bit better than consumers, and are going to be more able to look past a lack of color correction and audio that still needs work.
Generally, I think the time you want to start showing people in the industry is around picture lock. The test screenings should be done closer to the completion of the film, where you think you stand a chance at getting into major festivals.
2. Give out PRINTED comment cards/Sheets at the close of the event.
I’ve done enough events to know that if you give out PAPER sheets for people to fill out anonymously at the event, you’ll probably get around 80-90% of your audience willing to fill them out. However, if you send a follow-up survey in email, that number is around 10-20%, even if you incentivize them.
As such, you should make sure you have a single sided sheet ready for people to fill out at the event. Don’t make people give you their name, but do ask about their age range and potentially ethnicity. IF there are other demographics you plan on targeting, you should also add questions asking people if they identify with any of those groups.
I’ve added a few templates to my resources section below.
3. Ask the viewers to RATE the film on IMDb & give them the ability to AT THE SCREENING
IMDb is one of the earliest places you can start asking consumers to rate your film. In general, it’s best if you ask them to rate the film at the test screening. You can set up a subdomain on your site that automatically redirects to the IMDb page. Then you can use a QR code generator to make sure people have access to it. Give them time to fill out the form and rate the film between the film finishing up and a Q&A. The whole process (for both) should take 10 minutes or less, meaning a 15 minute break will also allow people to use the bathroom.
I believe your film needs to be marked as completed to capture this rating.
4. Capture emails to let the beta viewers know when the film comes out.
If you’re a filmmaker, you need to build your email list. (More on that in the related blog below.) You should create a custom tag for people who attend the screening of your film. If you capture RSVPs of people through Eventbrite, then you can just add that tag when you import them to mail chimp or whatever other mailing management program you want to use.
5. Consider inviting local press
If your film is gearing up for release, offering press passes to local print outlets, prominent bloggers talking about movies, or other digital creators will probably serve you well. It may or may not get them to actually come out, but the benefits of them coming. Just make sure you’re not spammy about it.
Related: 6 Rules for contact press.
Thanks so much for reading! If this all seems like a bit much, I do it for some of the films I represent or distribute. If you’d like me to consider yours, use the submit button below. If you like this content, you should check out my new youtube channel. Also, don’t forget about the template in my resources packet. Finally, creating content might LOOK like my full-time job, but it’s not. If you like this content and want more, support it on Patreon. After all, if people don’t support your work, you wouldn’t be able to keep doing it either.
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.