5 Stages Of Feedback To Go From Good To Great

Aug 25, 2022

Read time: 3 mins

In today's issue, I'm going to take you through the 5 stages of feedback that can take your film from good to great.

This is important to know because the quality of your film will influence the way it's received by audiences. And the way it's received by audiences can change your trajectory as a filmmaker.

Unfortunately, most debut feature filmmakers work in silos and don't adequately stress test their idea.

Feedback is a conscious plan, not an afterthought.

There are 4 main reasons filmmakers fail to do this:

  • Lack of plan.

  • Lack of network.

  • Lack of resources.

  • Ego.

By the end of this email, I'm going to show you how to overcome each of these by implement a 5-stage feedback process.

Here's how, step by step:

Step 1: Pitch the idea

You might want to think twice about spending 3 months writing a script if you can't get people excited by a logline.

Drafting a succinct logline is also a great way to ensure you understand your story, characters and theme.

Here is the formula I use for pitching a logline:

“My story is a (genre) called (title) about (hero) who wants (goal) despite (obstacle).”

Now let's look at the formula in practice. Here is a logline you might know:

The film is an epic drama called The Godfather about an aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty who transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son

And here is the logline to my second feature film:

The film is a drama called West of Sunshine about a father who has less than a day to pay back a debt, while looking after his young son.

Pitching is an iterative process, so as soon as you have your first version, start pitching it and see how it is received. And don't just pitch your spouse and parents, pitch everyone, including the stranger in the street.

Step 2: Gather the writers

You have the idea. You are a genius. Kidding...

I was recently introduced to this incredible transcript between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan. Over the course of this transcript, the three writers bring the story of Indiana Jones Raiders of The Lost Ark to life.

Two heads are better than one. Three heads are better than two. Grab your most trusted, talented writing friends and hole up in a room. Just remember to buy them lunch!

Step 3: Analyse the script

You've made it past the hardest part so it's time for the rubber to hit the road.

Once you've drafted your screenplay, it's wise to have it reviewed by professionals with less vested interest in the success of the film. I'm talking paid coverage, script consultants, development grants and screenwriting competitions. The key here is that you are paying these people or they are paying you if you are successful. No more friends and favours from here on out.

Step 4: Test the market

You get one shot at the market, don't blow it.

All the hard work developing the screenplay leads to this point. Whether your film gets the greenlight hinges on your ability to attract talent, distributors, sales agents and financiers. So take the time to make sure the screenplay is ready. And when it is, don't hold back.

Step 5: Run the gauntlet with an audience

Congratulations! If you made it this far you shot your film and you're in the edit.

It's easy to revert back to your old ways during the edit. You send the film out to some friends and trusted peers. But let's be real, that feedback is biased and may not even be coming from your target audience. This is something that took me many films to realise.

I now recommend hiring a company to run an audience test screening. We work with Pragmatic Research in Australia, I'm sure you can find similar companies in your state or country.

Well, that’s it for today.

I hope you enjoyed it.

See you again next week.

Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

1. Develop your filmmaking skills [FREE] here (750+ subscribers).

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