Private Screening Yields Helpful Information

Audience member filling out the test screening questionnaire after the film

I used to find it slightly distasteful when I heard about studios doing test screenings of their films before releasing them to the public. It seemed so contrived to me, and what useful feedback could be garnered on something so subjective? What one person might love, another will hate. On Sunday, July 15th, I changed my mind.

What began as a private viewing to thank those who worked on the film, and for family, friends and funders (and for us to test how the 3D worked on a 30 foot theatre screen) became a test audience that had plenty of interesting and helpful feedback. Although I don’t know if I would make radical changes to a film (and we’re not planning to for Skeleton Girl), having a test screening before a film is complete is something I would consider for future projects.

I’m not going to relay the specific comments we got back as I don’t want to colour the opinions of readers once they see the film. However, I’ll try to convey a general sense of why the feedback was useful and for what components of the film.

The film was shot to be seen in 3D on a 30 foot screen. And it worked. Not in an aggressive, in your face, gimmicky-3D way, but in a nice, yes I can see and feel the 3D in a non-intrusive way. We hadn’t experienced that as much when we saw the film on smaller screens, which also pointed to the fact that the 3D in the final film will look different depending what platform it is viewed on.

I was completely taken aback – and pleasantly surprised – by how engaged the audience was. Admittedly, they were more committed because of the relationship most already had with us, and given the nature of the viewing. However, to this day, I’m still getting questions and theories from people who saw it as to why certain things happened in the film and to get my response. This was a film of under 7 minutes yet it obviously had a strong impact in a very short period of time. People were pulled into the story and the main character to an extent that I hadn’t anticipated. It showed me how vitally important a good story is to drawing people in and engaging them. It also showed me that there are a multitude of things that a filmmaker does in a film that people will latch onto in their effort to make a connection with the character/s. Every detail counts.

Skeleton Girl has been referred to as a “visual feast”. We took time and care to create a visually compelling, highly detailed world in which everything – from the opening titles and sounds to the final credits – merged together in a unified and consistent way. Each element of the film supports the other. The rich sets match the stunning orchestral score. The narration covers some of the back-story, while visually we’re watching Millicent’s story come to life. Although all of this was done in a conscious manner, we discovered that there was so much to take in, that 7 minutes wasn’t enough for people to capture and absorb all of it. This is great for us to hear because it means people want to see it more than once because there is so much going on at different levels. The flip side is we need to keep a close eye on pace and to not overwhelm the senses such that the various elements become too much as opposed to complementing each other.

There were many other comments I won’t get into here. Long story short is what became a chance for us to share the film turned into a valuable education for us as filmmakers. Although I always knew that actually making the film was only one part of the process and that getting it in front of an audience was the other, I didn’t fully appreciate how rich and valuable an experience it would be for us to see and hear how others responded to it. I also realized that it isn’t necessarily our film anymore, it’s now in the hearts and minds of others. And that’s a good thing.

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Post-Production Reflections from Paige Bonnetta, Jump Studios

Paige Bonnetta, Production Coordinator Jump Studios Calgary and Post-Production Coordinator Skeleton Girl 3DMaking a film is very much a collaborative project and we were fortunate to have a great group of people who had a hand in some aspect of Skeleton Girl. Paige Bonnetta, Production Coordinator at Jump Studios was one of those people. In a Q and A format, here are some of her comments regarding her involvement with the film.

What is your role at Jump? I work as a Production Coordinator which involves coordinating, producing, writing and occasionally editing for projects big and small. Some notable clients are ESPN, NBC, HBO, MTV and Bleeding Art!

How did you first hear about Skeleton Girl? When I first started at Jump, they were already on board for the project – and I was lucky enough to become involved from the onset with some post-production tests we performed.

How did you get involved? As the principal photography began winding down I began the coordination of the post side of things, ramping up coordination as we began the edit and 3D convergence.

What was it about the film that piqued your interest? I’ve never worked on a stop-motion film before but have always been interested in it as a filmmaking technique and artistic craft. I find creating this miniature world so fascinating – having ultimate control over everything in the film visually. You aren’t limited by what already exists like you are in a practical location, so you have so much more flexibility. The benefits of animation, with the charm of live action.

What did you do for the film? I worked as the post-production coordinator through Jump Studios.

What was a highlight for you? I feel like there were two main highlights for me. The first, being the sense of teamwork. It really felt like we were all part of something bigger than ourselves, like we were crafting this world, this sense of wonder, this time and this place. This story. The second would be the great technical feats conquered during the project. Though I was not involved directly with the technical troubleshooting – it was amazing to see both the problems discovered along the way, and the innovative solutions everyone came up with as a team.

What did you find most challenging? With new, innovative ways of doing things do, of course, come challenges. The most challenging was when we would be up against a deadline, trying to solve something that hadn’t been done before. But we made it happen, and it was all the more amazing because of that.

How was it different (or was it) from other films you’ve worked on? This was different in a few ways from other films I’ve worked on. One way is that sometimes I am involved with films on set, and I wasn’t on this particular project. The second was the particular changes to workflow with this being both a stop-motion and 3D film.

Any final comments? It was a fantastic project, and I can’t wait to do another one with the Bleeding Art crew!

For more information on Jump Studios, visit www.jumpstudios.tv.

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Welcome to our Skeleton Girl 3D Blog

We’ve combined a couple of past Skeleton Girl blogs into this one. Because of technical challenges merging the two blogs, we’ve copied and pasted them below, with the original posting dates indicated following each blog.

Skeleton Girl is currently on the film festival circuit so we’ll keep you updated on anything newsworthy or interesting here. As Skeleton Girl grows and gets its legs, we may reflect back on the pre-production and production stages of the film. As our first film, we didn’t do as much archival work as we will for future films, but we’ll try to make-up for some of that here when time allows.

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bleedingartindustries:

Originally posted Feb 10, 2011.

Originally posted on Skeleton Girl Blog:

Making a movie is just one part of the film making equation. The other side is the playing of the movie. What’s the point in making a film if it’s going to languish on the shelf and not get in front of people to experience it? It is irrelevant how fantastic and awe-inspiring it might be; if no one sees it, what’s the point? Some intrinsic merits could be argued for – since of course not everything made is meant to be seen or bought – but this isn’t meant to be a philosophical piece about consumerism or the act of creating.

So, where does that bring us with Skeleton Girl? Well, I’m hashing out the details of our unveiling of Skeleton Girl to the world. Originally our plan was to get some footage in the can and pitch it to two or three of the top shorts distributors or buyers out there…

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bleedingartindustries:

Originally posted Nov 13, 2011.

Originally posted on Skeleton Girl Blog:

It’s Saturday, November 13th. Leo and I plan to animate this weekend while our daughter is out of town with a friend in Canmore. As with the work we do for Bleeding Art Industries, the work on Skeleton Girl requires us to wear many different hats. I’m more of a behind the scenes type person, trying to ensure that the financing and other infrastructure requirements are in place. I like the challenge of pulling the pieces of a project together. That all being said, I wanted to get a better feel for what was happening in our makeshift studio in the shop. When Leo is talking about convergence, inter-ocular distances and the optical physics of something, I realize that this is all more complicated than I thought. Yet there are still the basics of putting together a story frame by frame. I need to spend some time animating; familiarizing myself…

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bleedingartindustries:

From our Bleeding Art Industries blog.

Originally posted on Bleeding Art Industries Blog:

We recently premiered our first film. In case you haven’t already heard, it’s a 3D stop motion animated short called Skeleton Girl (you can read more about it at www.skeleton-girl.com). It was a great honour to kick off our film-making adventures by premiering it at New York’s funky and intimate Be Film The Underground Film Festival, the first short film festival in the world to have a stereoscopic 3D category. Be Film’s Program Director is the lovely, charming, hugely knowledgeable (especially about all things 3D-related) Mr. Dimitris Athos. Mr. Athos also programs the 3D category at the Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg, Texas, where Skeleton Girl screened in April following the New York world premiere. Anyhow, my point of this blog was to write about an observation I made while in New York in April that had me pondering things.

When the credits roll at the end of…

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