Today, we had our first “guinea pig” viewing of the film. Since my brother and I have been cooped up in the basement – er, editing studio – working on the film, we’ve begun to lose all sense of objectivity. A mutual friend not versed in the works of Tolkien nor the specifics of our film project took a look at the mostly-edited second cut of the film, which contains no music, and which still needs audio work, special effects and minor cutting.
Since the last entry, we’ve been gathering the final pieces of the puzzle and editing our second cut, which far surpasses the first in terms of coherence, sound and pacing. Our biggest struggles now involve audio, as most of the film was shot outdoors (wind! waterfalls! kids shouting!) and some of the already-difficult dialogue is hard to hear. In addition to editing, we’ve been working on the main musical themes of the film, and we’ve ordered the DVD packaging and sleeves. I also edited together a gag reel and a second behind-the-scenes featurette.
In writing the film, I made an early decision not to dumb down the dialogue. The characters speak as they would in their world. The details of the conflict and the goals of each character, however, are explicitly defined at the outset of the story and kept on top of the film’s list of priorities. Going into today’s viewing, I wanted to make sure the level of audience confusion was at a bare minimum, though part of the idea is that you’re thrown into the midst of a conflict. We start out playing catch-up with the characters, and an inherent sense of urgency remains throughout. Even when the characters attempt to slow down, the story does not allow them to.
The viewing was, I think, a success. Our subject enjoyed the film and was not confused about the conflict. “The locations were phenomenal,” he said upon my asking his favorite part of the film as a whole, “The costumes were amazing, and it was obvious a lot of time was put into everything. It didn’t look like something you just whipped up. It looked like a professional film.” He told me he had a hard time keeping up with character names, but if that was his biggest complaint, I’m happy. My brother mentioned not remembering anyone’s name the first time he saw The Lord of the Rings (having not read the books previously). Tolkien’s properly-named people and locations lend themselves more to text, but as long as you remember who they are in the story, we’ve succeeded.