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So you wanna make an indie film....

Test Screenings (last blog / next blog)
by Michael Neel & Greg Ansin

So you've made a cut of your film, with Foley, ADR, and Music. Maybe you even have some Demoitis about certain scenes, and want to see if those scenes work. What now?

A good thing to do is have a test screening. Your friends and family will want to be a part, and you should include them. However, sometimes people who have no connection to you can be the most helpful. A stranger has no reason to say one thing or another just because they know you – they will say what they feel.

Showing a test screening to an audience is very useful. Ideally, you want to show it to people who like the kind of film you have made. If the audience is wrong they might not like the film, even though the film works! For example, horror is a love-it-or-hate-it genre. You might make a scary, gross film but if your test screening is made up of people who hate horror they aren't going to like your movie – even more so if you did a good job! So make sure you get the right people.

Having comment cards is useful, or a question and answer session afterwards, especially if there are specific things in your film that you have concerns about.

You can also get a lot of feedback from sitting in the screening. If you sit in the back you can watch the audience respond to things – laughter, tears, scares, etc. The interesting thing about this is what people react to – sure, you've guided their emotions through editing and storytelling, but often times small things just strike people a certain way. A joke that you never thought was funny is the biggest laugh in the movie. A small scare is much more impactful than you thought it would be. And so on. These can be some of the best things about a test screening.

If you are worried that a part of your film is dragging, watch the audience react during those scenes. If they fidget, or sigh, or seem restless, your instincts are probably right. If you have a Q&A session afterwards ask them about those scenes and see what they say, or ask them to write their answers on the comment cards.

It is important to interpret people's comments correctly. If one or two people don't like a certain character or specific part of your movie but everyone else does then their bad reaction is probably just a matter of taste. There is nothing you can do about this, and you shouldn't have to. You can't make everyone like your film. However, if you see a specific comment come up again and again, such as: “I didn't understand why this Character A did this” or “The scene with the dump truck went on for too long” then your audience is probably on to something. Do another cut of your film that addresses these issues.

And of course thank your audience. They are doing you a big favor – shedding some light on the film you have made! Because although this film is your baby, it will ultimately belong to everyone who watches it.

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What they are saying about the Drive-In Horrorshow....

"10 out of 10"
- From Infernal Dreams

"Drive-In Horrorshow delivers a visual feast of blood splatter and clever storytelling."
- From Fangoria

"Drive-In Horrorshow takes the anthology and juices it fully with five unique stories that range from clever comedy to dark body horror."
- From Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense

"A well made anthology of short films."
- Zombie Movie Database

"Highly recommended for those who want to confront the monsters under the bed of their childhood. And as always find them scary."
- From I 400 Calci (translated from Italian)

"The general tone of this film struck me, because I've seen real passion for the genre."
- From Ulteriorit Precedente (translated from Italian)

"This is a high recommend from me, very entertaining and obviously done by filmmakers who love the genre. Long live the horror anthology!"
- From McBastard's Mausoleum

"Drive in Horror Show is–WITHOUT A DOUBT–the greatest horror anthology since George Romero's Creepshow"
- From Planet Fury

"I can't stop singing its praises."
- From Rogue Cinema

"If you like horror anthologies pick this one up, there's something for everyone here."
- From Deadly Indie Drive-In

"Every now and then a movie will come out that knocks you socks off and with its originality, creativity and magnetic appeal- well Drive in HorrorShow is that flick."
- From Angry Princess

"With a solid lineup of 5 stories that range from the serious to seriously goofy, Drive-In Horrorshow is the perfect film for a Friday night. Or any night for that matter."
- From Planet of Terror

"A tasty little anthology in the vein of Creepshow or Trick 'r Treat, Drive-In Horrorshow is a nifty treat of a film, well worth checking out." 
- From Radiation-Scarred Reviews

"A cut above the rest and slice of incredible independent filmmaking." 
- From Horrornews.net

"One of the most entertaining horror anthologies I have seen in a while."
- From KillingBoxx

"The horror world is a fickle beast but Drive-In Horror Show manages to walk the lines of the subgenres without missing a beat. It's appeal reaches to horror fans of all types."
-Bill Fulkerson from Outside The Cinema

"Celebrates the long-lost beauty of the drive-in theater and all its bloody glory."
- From Basement Screams

"A slick five tale anthology film that was independently made and a reminder of cool shit we used to see on late night TV when we were kids."
- From Gross Movie Reviews

"A good throw back to the late night creature feature."
- From Cinema Fromage

"Top notch effects that invoke fear and comedy at the same time.  I really really like this movie."
- Podcast at Movie Fan House

"Fantastic." 
-Podcast at Horrorstuff

Other Press:

"The horror! But that's what he seeks."
- The Boston Globe talks with the filmmakers

"What motivated you and Michael Neel to make the transition from candid interviews and political documentaries to ghoulish gore horror?"
- Pamela Torres at Punk Globe interviews DIHS producer Greg Ansin

"Wowzers! That really sounds like some good shit!"
- Arrow In The Head is psyched for the release of DIHS

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