The first person to see my film was my housemate Abi. It was also the first time I watched the film on a TV screen myself. I did not point out any of the insecurities I had about the final piece and I did not tell her what to focus on. All I wanted was an impression of an independent viewer. The first relief came when I saw Abi smiling and being engaged with what she was seeing and hearing. Abi really enjoyed watching the film and she did not get bored with it. When the film ended she commented that after she had seen the film, she felt like she worked in Café des Amis. This reassured me that I managed to share the experience of belonging to the restaurant. I asked Abi about the ending, sound, and outline of the film, and got some useful feedback to consider when I am finalising the film. The whole experience of screening the film for the first time made me much more confident about what I was doing and it pushed me forward to improve some of the parts I was insecure about.
The most important feedback session took place at Café des Amis after one of our shifts. I brought my laptop and the final cut of the film, so I could share it with my workmates and managers. I was pleased that everyone found the video very genuine. The staff commented that I managed to capture the real atmosphere of the place and the life in Café des Amis. They described the film with words like raw, intimate and genuine. They also requested a copy of the film so they have a memory of the life at the restaurant after they leave. Such positive feedback made me feel confident about the narrative I created.
I met some of my course mates when I was exporting the final cut and showed them the finalised piece. I got some positive comments and they reassured me that after seeing the video, they feel like they know the place much better and they would like to visit the restaurant soon. I also screened the film to my family. My parents felt much closer to the restaurant and they said they became much more familiar with the place where I work.
I got some negative comments as well, especially regarding to the sound. This kind of feedback was extremely helpful. After hours of editing and reviewing the film, I became somewhat numb and I could not see and hear certain flaws. My friends noticed these errors and warned me about them. Without these comments I would not be able to correct those mistakes which disturb the viewers from focusing on the content. In conclusion, I found the feedback sessions very beneficial as they allowed me to see the film through different eyes. I felt enabled to distance myself from the emotional connection of the filmmaker and to learn about the experience of the viewers.