Monthly Archives: September 2009

Rough Cuts and Test Screenings

By way of a postscript on our escapade in Malawi I thought you would like to know that the film, now called Mawa Langa, had it’s Test Screening last Friday.

it always was called Mawa Langa but up until nearly the day we left that was the working title only and Elspeth was canvassing opinions from everybody to establish if that was indeed the best possible title. Choices ranged from “Mind Your Neck” to “Snails’ Eyes”. Malawi is very rich in proverbs and there was a book in the stationery shop “500 Malawi Proverbs”, I meant to buy it. You see, if you mind your neck you will get to wear the necklace, meaning look after yourself and you will succeed. I forget the snails eyes, rather more obtuse, it too was entirely appropriate.

We were all for “Mind your Neck” but what Elspeth’s research showed was that the younger generation did not know its proverbs well enough and resonated better with Mawa Langa. Mawa Langa means more than its literal translation of “My Tomorrow”, there are connotations of hope and effort in there too and we were all happy with the choice; and we are really happy with Colin’s report on the Test Screening. Colin and Fraser stayed out there to finish a rough cut and show it to a test audience. They return this Friday.

Colin, despite losing his computer to some defect and having to do the editing all over again on Elpseth’s back up laptop, got the rough cut, complete with Fraser’s first stab at the sound track, ready for a showing to an invited audience at a local school. Things never go smoothly and they ended up at the local YONECO Drop-in Centre with a few kids who had dropped in. By the time the opening musical sequence had ended there were 23 and a few minutes later 60+ all between 10 and 17, an ideal audience for the questions Colin was going to fire at them: did they recognise the situations portrayed in the film? Did the film seem real? and so on. Well the answers could not have been more encouraging. It does seem that the film does exactly what it set out to do.

The film is interrupted twice for audience discussion. It seems the only problem was the disappointment which was palpable each time the film stopped! The girls of course resonated with the film most and discussed most but then it was Effie’s film, it was her story, so really this was only to be expected. Yes, they recognised the wicked uncle and the evil gang and so on.

Comments came thick and fast and absolutely justified the film: “young girls would see that they can survive and be strong like Effie.” “Too many young girls are on their own and they fall in love with older men – I do not think it is right, I want to be like Effie!” “ Young people should protect themselves.” “ Boys should not get involved with bad gangs, it happens all the time.” And to the final question about whether there were any bits they did not like, there was a resounding “NO, IT WAS REALLY GOOD”.

The test screening has given some clear indications as to how the question slots should be handled and how likely screenings will go. It now remains to finish the editing and distribute it.

It was a marvelous experience being associated with this project, so thank you everybody and well done.

Peter Lansdown, Production Assistant