When you make a film, it’s going to define you for at least a year. For the past ten months, Shabbat Dinner has been my next project, what I was working on, and then my most recent film. I like to joke that I’m sick of watching it as I’ve seen it 300 times, and in some ways it’s quite true. After all, I already know what happens.
The only difference between viewings is the audiences. An audience is never quite the same. It’s interesting to hear differing reactions and is incredibly gratifying when an audience is large or very receptive. But after having had a few good screenings, I don’t always feel the need to watch with the audience and am sometimes happier standing outside and chatting with people than watching the film again.
When i’ve watched the film alone or with one or two people, i have one of there reactions:
- “Wow, this is terrible!” With fresh perspective and what feels like less ego-attachment, i see every camera mistake, awkward phrasing, and plot point in a negative light. I wonder why I’ve let such a terrible work represent me in the world and feel embarrassed for myself.
- “This is genius!” Less detachment here, I think. I connect with the positive things people have said about the film and my feelings of satisfaction at having finished it.
Mood has something to do with these reactions, but it’s more than that; it also has to do with how we watch film. Because there are so many elements – in my film, six performances, several plot lines, camera angles, music, sound design, and a distribution plan to name a few – watching a film can be different depending on which of those elements I focus on. And because I suppose I haven’t unhooked my ego from this film, different paths through it take me to one of those three conclusions.