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Old October 13th, 2008, 11:37 AM   #1
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Focus group for Doc's?

I am at the tail end of my doc on my deployment to Afghanistan. Is a Focus group/test audience something I would want to do to get some feed back on the film before I finalize it and premiere it to my unit and give copies of it out? This is NOT a 5 minute YouTube movie, rather a documentation of the complete tour. I went through 20,000 photos and 500hrs of video to make this 40 min film which also has interviews and such. I just want to make sure this is the best it can be.

Thoughts, Ideas, Suggestions??

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Old October 13th, 2008, 12:10 PM   #2
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I don't think anything like that exists - you would have to pay, or create your own.

Easiest way -

post the video to youtube in 3 or 4 parts.

solicit input via forums, emails etc.
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Old October 13th, 2008, 02:00 PM   #3
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I've been through a few serious ones with some seasoned editors who shepherded me through the process. Here's what I've learned:

Audience screening - I always find this part to be an emotional roller coaster. The best advice I was given and the main lesson I learned - mark down where stuff is not working BUT do not dive in right away to fix that particular moment in time. If something's not working with an audience, 90% of the time it's because of something that happened 1-15 minutes before, where you setup the moment. So look there first to fix problems that you found during the audience screening.

Audience Q&A - I can't take these very seriously. Even with the best moderators, crowd dynamics are so political and there's so much grand standing & ego boosting, it always skews this part of the feedback. My main lesson from a grizzled old editor, listen for patterns in the questions, but generally the people you "really" want to hear from are not the one's that are usually brave enough to ask questions. I'm in favor of doing the Q&A before the written questionnaire since I think the Q&A is really more for the audience to let them relax and come back to reality. Other's think differently, oh well.

Audience questionnaire - Useful. But more as audience preparation for the next step.

Audience meet & greet - This is for me is the best feedback you can get. Especially if you give the audience 30 minutes in a nice cozy room / location / bar / pub and let them have a few drinks, relax, and chit chat with their friends about what they really thought about the movie. For me this is where people really start to review the movie properly and what focus groups are all about. I like to go in about 30 minutes into it, and I find I can get more into detail about what characters really resonated or didn't, which moments really affected the audience etc. Main lessons for me, don't drink so much you can't remember where you put your notes afterwards, and don't be afraid to let some beautiful woman corner you and tell you what she really thought about the movie. Like I said, for me, this is the best part.
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
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Old October 14th, 2008, 09:24 AM   #4
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I think a preview screening is an aboslute must before the final finnish - so yes, do plan on setting one up. Could be in your home, could be in a local 'facility' - wherever you feel is most comfortable for your audience. DON'T screen it in a room that will feel 'empty' however. So size does matter.

Michael has some excellent points in the post above, all of them good. There are different ways to approach it, as he says. I like to prepare a typed questionairre that I hand out immediately AFTER the screening... telling the audience beforehand there will be a few moments of SILENCE for them to answer in, and then the Q&A. (I like to watch the audience, watch the movie. I watch for when they look engaged, or start to look bored or lost.)

I feel like getting their thoughts on the questionaire BEFORE they've had a chance to 're-think' them after chatting with the others - helps to sort through the group think that might emerge in a discussion afterwards.

Never 'argue' with any conclussions or questions that might have been drawn from your film. If they didn't 'get it' - it's time to rethink how you said it.
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Old October 14th, 2008, 09:49 AM   #5
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Is this intended for distribution to other than your unit or are you considering other distribution. Your approach to the film will be a lot different depending on what audience it is intended for. I think a film that will go over well with the unit, because they were there for the experience, would not go over well with a general audience. I would expect there would be to many inside stories.....

I learned a bit about this only a couple of weeks ago. My son in law is deploying to Afghanistan this week as a Nat Guard Evac Medic on the Blackhawk. I was asked to prepare a video for the deployment ceremony..... I had access to 1000's of photos and footage. If I was prepping this for a general audience, I would have been fine, and could have used the pics and clips to make an emotional and effective tribute. But it was clear since this was targeted to the individuals in the unit, that my background knowledge was insufficient and I had to "draft" my son in law to help with the edit.

Chris J. Barcellos
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Old October 14th, 2008, 10:22 PM   #6
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Will there be a way I can order a DVD copy when it's finalized? I'm retired air force (retired in Nov 1978 after 20) and still feel a strong bond of kinship with those of you wearing our nation's uniform.

For the last 3 years I've attended the annual Freedom Through Vigilance Association "Remembrance Ceremony" held in conjunction with Air Force ISR Agency on Security Hill at Lackland AFB. This ceremony honors the people lost in combat and intelligence operations (49 to date) from the ISR Agency or any of it's previous "incarnations" (I was in USAFSS for my whole career).

Anyway your project holds interest for me in two ways, as one who tries to follow closely what our nation's warriors are experiencing and also as a film maker.

Bruce Foreman
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Old October 18th, 2008, 06:29 AM   #7
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WOW, A lot of GOOD Information. I will take all of this info and see if I cant make this work. I will be making two versions because of the time line. I have less then a week to finish this and I only have 4 chapters out of 9 completed because of software problems. Because of the time crunch I am having to cut alot of stuff I would normally keep in. So at this point when ever I do, I know my unit will be very happy. Once I come home I would like to approach networks and try to get this broadcasted on a major network. There are a lot of things I will be adding once I get home, but again because of the time crunch, I am going to have to make some excetutive decissions.

I was thinking to putting it on youtube once it is done and sharing it with everyone from these fourms who helped me out. If someone wants a DVD copy then I would gladly send them one. I am working with my unit information Officer and the XO to help me shape this film without compromising any operational security issues.

The biggest problem I see right now and the largest critic is me...

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Old October 20th, 2008, 02:57 PM   #8
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I don't know a lot about it but in the light of this thread you might want to be a bit careful about putting it on Youtube if you're also planning on trying to sell it to a network.

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