Getting Audience feedback…

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Media

Here’s a questionnaire that I handed out to 20 people varying in age and gender for feedback on the final cut of my trailer (to make sure there is nothing else that needs changing/editing)…

After you have watched the ‘final cut’ of the trailer for ‘Tainted’ can you please complete the following questions in as detailed answers as you can. Thankyou.

Q:Did you feel that the music of this piece worked well in conjunction with the film?

Some of the best answers…

‘I think it did work very well- it fits with the tone of the film’

‘The voices chanting constantly in the background makes it sound mysterious and creepy’

‘Not what I’d usually expect in a trailer but it still works well’

My thoughts…

I was previously paranoid that maybe my music was a bit unconventional– considering the music I think is usually associated with trailers (namely the fast paced and loud) and wondered whether my choice in music may be slightly breaking the conventions too much. Happily the answers I got were generally as those above- telling me that most of the audiences liked my choice in music– although it wasn’t what they previously expected from it. Perhaps indicating that as long as it works well and for a valuable purpose, audiences can be open to films (or trailers) which aren’t afraid to break boundaries or conventions. The only problem being that this is subject to personal opinion and we can’t really tell, as film makers, whether or not we’ve gone too far with breaking the conventions until an audience member points it out. Which is why I learnt that it’s really vital to get feedback– as audiences will immediately let you know if there’s something not quite right with your film- but if they don’t watch it, how can they bring it to light?

Q:Did you feel that there was a wide variety of shots? Or were too many of them similar?

Some of the best answers…

‘There seems to be a lot of very close up shots…perhaps a little too many?’

‘I think there’s plenty of variety in the shots you have- because you have long ones, close up ones and all kinds of other shots’

‘Not many of the camera shots move…they just all seem to be very still, could this be a problem for you?’

My thoughts…

Yes…I had wondered about these little problems. I did think that a few of my shots were static but some of them do move, and I think regardless of how many extreme close-ups I have (which I grant is quite a few) they are an underlying convention of thrillers and I like to stick to that convention because I do view that they are very useful, particularly in my case, where I am trying to keep a character’s identity a secret. Anyway, I have other varied shots, like the long high angle shot of Kitty on the floor, POV shots from Alice and Kitty, a mid shot of Kitty as she opens the door, A pan as the writing on the car disappears etc so I think, considering this, I have enough of variety in my camera shots and the concern that I have too many extreme close-ups is merely due to my loyalty to this particular convention in my chosen genre

Q:Do you have any particular shots in memory that stood out or you felt worked well?

Some of the best answers…

‘I liked the shot with the writing on the car…it gets you interested because one moment the writings there and then it’s gone’

‘One shot that sticks out is the girl’s eye, especially when she looks at the screen. It’s very effective’

‘When the girl’s searching through the cupboard- it looks just like a real film’

My thoughts…

Well this was just a personal thing really. I wanted to know which shots seemed to stand out and why– just to get an idea about what audiences  remembered mostly about/from my trailer after watching it (and if they remembered anything at all!). After all, if they found they couldn’t recall anything that stuck to mind- my trailer would be deemed as completely pointless and useless– as it’s aim is to sell and thus stick in the viewer’s mind, so they’ll want to go and watch the film. So I was happy to find at least some of the audience members could recall a shot from my trailer more or less exactly– as it shows my trailer has at least had some effect upon them and has somewhat successfully been able to connect to them in some way or another. Which suggests my trailer is doing ultimately what a trailer is purposefully created forcapturing the audience’s attention.

Q:Do you think choosing to have the trailer in black and white was effective?

Some of the best answers…

‘it makes it look like it’s an old film- like before colour film was invented’

‘I liked it- I think it makes it overall look very spooky and dark’

‘It could work either way, but I personally think it improves the film as everything is in black and white, it all just seems to link together smoother’

My thoughts…

This was a concern of mine…because for some reason when I first tried putting the scenes that were supposed to be Jack’s flashbacks (hinting to the audience why he wants revenge) the black and white did help convey it to be a memory or in the past, but it didn’t really flow with the rest of the trailer. So I decided to put it all in black and white which I thought myself was very effective and made my film look different. Plus, I think it helps make the locations look more professional in an odd way-as props and odd things in the background seem now not to take away from the action occurring– as it is all just black and white. I don’t think it really gives the impression that the film is old– or set in the past even- as the clothing of the characters and the locations, weapons etc are all modern– so audiences should be intelligent enough to spot that it IS a modern film, set in modern-day– it’s just in black and white through personal choice. Overall I was happy with the results I got as most audience members commented that it made the film look creepy or dark– which is exactly what I am trying to convey to my audience- that the film will have a dark atmosphere and sinister themes, as well as a frightening plot.

Q:Does the font and colour of the titles work well with the rest of the trailer?

Some of the best answers…

‘I liked the red titles- it’s different and shows the film will probably be frightening’

‘The font for the name of the film was effective’

‘I liked the colour choice but maybe the font is too plain?’ 

My thoughts…

Well I was happy with my titles overall, mainly because my audience seemed to be. Although some called my font for my intertitles a little plain and boring even, I do somewhat agree with them on these terms. But what I usually find is that if you try to over-complicate things, especially little things such as titles, (like choosing fancy and complicated fonts) it all starts to look very amateur. I don’t know why, it’s just my personal opinion and it is for this reason that I chose a simpler font. But I did break the conventions a little by making the titles red. This was for two reasons: the main being the reason that many audience members picked up on (which I was pleased about) that it connotes bloodshed, violence and general danger in the film and furthermore will help to convey what the film will be like to the audience. The other reason being that having already chosen to have my film in black and white, having white titles (which I think I’ve argued previously) would look too much like the film and overall make the trailer seem a bit too plain. I was happy for the name of the film and its font though- as I chose to have it in white to single it out from the other titles (expressing its importance) and wanted a different, more eye-catching font without over-complicating it or becoming too conventional or predictable– and my think personally the font I’ve chosen works well. And looking at most of the responses from audience members, I think they do too.

Q:Do you feel that the dialogue works?

Some of the best answers…

‘Yes, but sometimes it does sound a bit static’

‘I think the dialogue was good but some of the actor’s speaking perhaps weren’t doing a very good job’

‘It works well and links nicely to the film’

My thoughts…

Unfortunately, the aspect of dialogue was another main concern. I think the audience members were right to point out that some pieces sound a little ‘forced’ but I really think this is something that to some extent, is beyond my control. The actors/actresses are not trained nor qualified in any way of the sort- as I do not have the contacts to provide me with professional actors and am very limited in this area. All in all I feel although some of the dialogue or ‘voice acting’ is questionable, I cannot ask for any more from my actors and feel, overall they have done a good job.  On a lighter note it appears for most of my audience members that the dialogue helped get information and the mood of the film across in the trailer, and thus this is an area I can put my mind at ease upon- as this was the main concern. Whether it was useful for the trailer is in my opinion, a bigger concern than simply the quality of acting– and I don’t think the actor’s quality is that bad that in the trailer it will take away the desired effect I want to get across to the audience. And I’m pretty sure that if that were the case the audience would just some straight out and say it!

Q: From watching the trailer, do you feel that you now have a basic idea of what the film is about?

Some of the best answers…

‘I’m guessing that revenge is involved?? The girl who opened the door did something bad once, so some one gets revenge on her?? I’m not very sure. Sorry’

‘It’s clear revenge is a big theme. I’d guess the girl who appears to be constantly in trouble wants help from the other female character…but I really have no idea how revenge is linked up into that’

‘A girl’s in trouble, she wants help from her friend. Someone is threatening the girl and there are hints she will be killed. There are also hints that someone wants revenge for something but it’s not very clear what or who. Something from childhood maybe?’

My thoughts…

Well it’s quite clear to see from most answers that the audience get the general idea of what the plot of the film will be. Well- I say general- in reality they lose a lot of details on the matter but they seem to get everything I intended for them to. Like they understand that Alice is the hero, yet don’t know who she’s after or if she’ll be successful in stopping them and they also appeared to generally understand Kitty was a character in trouble and needed help but they didn’t know who was after her and for what motives. I was also happy that the main theme of revenge, as I can judge from what they’ve told me, was easily put across to the audience and something they quickly picked up on to be an important theme– as it IS an important theme within the film itself. I’m also happy because judging from what’s been said about the plot, the audience seems to know some basic ideas but all seemed a little thrown and confused– which is exactly the desired effect. Because I feel from my research into trailers that trailers often give away far too much about the film they’re promoting, I’ve made very sure that I do not do this as I think it destroys the actual film’s desired effect. And I think I’ve been quite successful in this area- considering the feedback given to me.

Q:Do you feel the quotes from ‘critics’ about the film is necessary?

Some of the best answers…

‘Well it helps give an idea if the film is good or not’

‘It makes the film look better- because others have said how good it is’

‘Yes- it helps tell us more about the film and helps to sell it to us aswell’

My thoughts…

Well I totally agree with the audience on this question, no doubt about it. Although I admit, I was not too keen on this aspect/convention within trailers to start off with (I though they seemed a bit separate and pointless) I’ve realised, mostly from audience feedback, that it is a very helpful little thing to use. It helps, as I gather from research and the recent feedback I’ve collected, to hype the film, thus selling it even more to the audience– as if others praise the film in reviews and so forth- it will further make the film appear more watchable and exciting to the audience. Therefore it overall increases the chances of audiences going to watch the actual film– a trailer’s main purpose as I’ve stated many a time. On another note, it is also helpful for me as a filmmaker, as I can (as I wrote the ‘critic’ review snippets myself) convey to my audience what the film will be like, thus broadening their information on the film itself- which I did by making sure I used key words within the reviews to heighten certain things. Like using the word ‘vengeance’ instantly implies the film will have a theme of revenge, using the word ‘darkest’ heightens the notion of a dark atmosphere within the film itself and ‘compellingmakes it appear like the film will be intense, tension building and so on. Lastly, I’m very glad I chose to develop my titles over the process of editing (which was mostly due to negative feedback on the matter) as now I have cut them down and put them on a black screen instead having them over the top of the action they look more professional and serve I think, a better purpose than they did so before. 

Q: Do you think the editing (like cutting of shots, transitions, effects etc) was smooth and worked well? Or could be an area to work on?

Some of the best answers…

‘I think it works pretty well…shots didn’t feel to run too long or not long enough’

‘The editing was good. I don’t think I noticed any mistakes about it anyway’

‘I couldn’t see anything wrong with it… It all was nicely put together’

My thoughts…

Overall I was pleased with the feedback I got about the editing of the trailer as I feel this is an important area and vital to the trailer’s success. I was happy that most recalled the editing to be ‘smooth’ as this way the audience are more likely to want to go and watch the film- as it helps it look more professional. Because the audience didn’t really mention the special effects included, I think that this was due to how I’ve learnt from past mistakes in my AS piece (the two-minute opening) I may have gone a little overboard with the special effects in the editing process. As from my research I gathered that trailers from my genre did not tend to really include too many special effects (and I do not have the appropriate equipment to make the special effects look professional or realistic) and I didn’t think special effects really helped sell the film very well, this is why I chose not to include many in my own trailer. In fact I think I only included one: which was the ‘ghosting’ effect which I applied within the shot of Ray on the swing (which only lasted like 2 seconds anyway). And I think the fact that my feedback reveals that the audiences were not too bothered  about my limited special effects (otherwise they would have said something about it) suggests that leaving out this aspect to some extent was probably a good idea after all.   

Q: Did you like the logos at the start of the trailer? Do you feel they look professional?

Some of the best answers…

‘I liked them a lot- especially the first one’

‘They looked very well done- and linked well to the film’

‘The logos were good. They looked professional and interesting- looks as though a lot of thought has gone into making them’

My thoughts…

Overall I’m pleased with this feedback as most of the audience members seemed to say that they overall, liked the logos. I’m also pleased that some even commented on how realistic they appeared– as I did wonder previously about whether they looked a little gimmicky or amateur. But thankfully they appear to be convincing enough and thus served their purpose. I’m happy I spent enough time on them, as I didn’t realise before how important or influential they could be on the audience, but as my feedback shows- they are important factors of the film. As they, to some extent, give hints to what the film itself will be like (such as I used the name ‘psychotic studios’ to give connotations of bloodshed and violence within the film/trailer before it even starts). 

Q: Overall, do you feel this trailer has a professional ‘feel’? In other words, can you immediately tell most of this was filmed in fact filmed by a student and a lot of the locations were in fact within a school?

Some of the best answers…

‘ I can’t see any evidence that it is filmed in a school’

‘Maybe the only implication that is  filmed by a student is how young the actors/actresses are- apart from that, not really’

‘You can really tell- there maybe one or two tiny little things you could spot…but the trailer goes so fast you probably won’t ever notice them’

My thoughts…

Overall this was perhaps my biggest concern. And I’m glad that now I’ve re-filmed the pieces that previously most feedback commented they could tell it was a school (mostly due to props in the background) and re-editied, the response is so much different from audience members on this aspect. Now, apart from the fact the actresses/actors are all rather young (which I really don’t have the power to change) everything now seems to make the trailer  look  less amatuer and pretty much like any other film. Honestly, I think the only way people would notice it was filmed in a school, in school hours, would be if they actually went to the school I filmed in and recognized the area (which I can’t control either), or if they (like some audience members pointed out) went through it frame by frame and analysed it extremely closely. So, I’m happy that now, because of that little bit of re-filming, the audience has overall assured me that the trailer looks a lot more professional than it did before.

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