Film & TV

Editing and Testing Films, Part 2

Judd Apatow

Lesson time 9:56 min

Judd dives deeper on how to improve your projects through testing and provides some expert tips on how to squeeze extra humor out of your scenes.

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Now for me, I like to do a lot of these tests. Some people will test them the movie three times. I'll test the movie four or five times. And I will do something not a lot of people do, which is I will cut two versions of the movie. So there'll be one version of the movie that I'm trying to polish and fix and tighten. But then I might have so much extra material and alternate jokes that I might create a Frankenstein version of the movie where I'm taking big swings. I'm trying scenes that I think maybe don't work, but let me just put them in front of a crowd to see. Weird jokes that feel like they will offend everybody, but I might as well give it one shot to see if I'm wrong. And then just tons of other jokes that I just want to see if any of them are worth putting in what I call the A cut. So there's the B cut, which is the Frankenstein monster, and there's the A cut, which is the one we're slowly polishing. And always what happens as you'll show the Frankenstein cut, it usually doesn't test as well as the good cut. But every test, you'll find 6 to 10 jokes that you never thought would get a laugh that are the biggest laugh in the entire movie, just weird things that you would never know were highlights of the movie. And that's how we slowly lift the quality of the movie through all of these different tests. At the same time, we're tracking emotion and story and pace and everything else. But the movie always seems like it's moving quicker if you think the scene's hilarious. Nobody ever thinks a movie is slow if they're laughing their asses off. A lot of what you're learning in a test is where people are losing interest, where are they bored, is it too long? Is there dead spots? Is the pace appropriate in each section? Is your momentum working properly and do the jokes work? And that's a big one. Let's assume you have 200 jokes in a movie. You might test the movie, and you get 100 laughs. Now, you have to figure out, what do you do? Do you remove the places where you bombed? Now, if you've shot extra jokes like we do, you could replace 100 jokes with 100 different jokes or 100 different performances of the jokes that bombed. And then maybe next time, you get 150 laughs out of 200. And then you go, OK, I got 50 to fix. And maybe some you just remove and tighten the scene and others say, I've got some other alts and other performances. And now 185 out of 200 are working. And then for 15, you go, I don't have a good joke, but what if I change the dialogue by recording different lines in post and putting them on the back of their head which basically means. I'm talking to somebody else, if you don't see my lips, I could say anything. And if that's the angle, and you're mainly seeing the other person and not my mouth, you can change what I said. And sometimes, we'll do that to save a scene. That happened in Anchorman. There's a scene where Danny Trejo is a bartender, and he's talking to Ron Burgundy who's drunk in a bar, depress...


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No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I truly like the delivery by Judd and all of the information that he shared. I did not expect so much information. I am working with a lady who wants to be a stand-up comedian, so I want to help her go as far as she can. Thanks so much Judd.

This class has done a lot for me. I've learned a ton and have gotten the courage to sit down and actually write something. I wish I learned HOW TO WRITE A JOKE, though.

Probably the best class in filmmaking so far. Lots of useful advices !

Thank you, Judd. Loved hearing your insight and will put your guidance to use.


Comments

Heather H.

How great if low budget, indie comedies had the luxury of the time and budget to get even one test screening or focus group. 3-5'd be amazing! And SO helpful! Like a comedian getting up, testing material on its feet in front of an audience and adjusting the set.

Marcy S.

I appreciate that 1/3 of your IMDB missed the mark. It good to know that you cant really predict why or what is funny and its all just a guess

John Connell

Wonderful advice. Sure is great to share the inner workings of a comedic mind. Just love the insights into covering one's butt with the testing process and using the latter to improve, improve, improve. Thanks, Mr. Apatow.