A nail-biter --- you're showing the completed film to a room full of strangers for the first time. They're not your friends or your family, they've never heard of you or the film, most of them have never heard of Fermilab and none of them has ever heard of the Higgs boson. Will they like it?
The answer, as we found out a couple of weeks ago at a small theatre in Chicago at a test screening organized by the Chicago branch of the IFP, was yes! We were quite relieved. There was a question and answer session afterwards, and there was a lively discussion about the film that lasted about 20 minutes. Overall, it was very gratifying.
Well, I should be honest. The answer was yes, they liked it ... mostly. We heard some excellent feedback.
At the stage where we're at (nearly complete) there is feedback you like to get, and feedback you dread. The feedback you dread is the kind that sounds like "hmmm..... I didn't really understand it. What were they doing?" or worse, "so, what was going on?". The worst of all, though, is just a room full of bored people who don't even have a question. It just didn't work, they weren't interested, and they were just ready to leave. That's the kind of screening directors have nightmares about.
The good kind of feedback is, happily, the kind we got. People are truly engaged by the film --- they're asking question after question about the content ("did they see the budget cut coming?" "when are they all going to make the move to CERN?"), which means they were hooked by the story and the characters. And their critiques about the film itself are specific and small: "I saw that one shot of that piece of equipment twice" or "I think you could cut out that part about Intelligent Design. We got it, and that was a little repetitive." Those are clear, easy things to do, and by and large we agreed with every one of them. Altogether, they gave us smart, concise suggestions that could help us shave off nearly 8 or even 9 minutes of the film, which would bring us from a (slightly) big 97 minutes to a (perfect) 88 minutes.
We've set early January as the date for the final FINAL cut, reflecting these last changes...