Often it’s very hard for non-filmmakers to understand what “work-in-progress” means. Audiences are used to seeing a finished product, so if you show a friend or test-audience something you’re not done with, often their feedback is based in the assumption that what they’re looking at is a final product – even if you might pre-frame otherwise.
It’s hard for non-filmmakers to imagine what the final sound, color, visual effects, music, etc. will feel like – but then again, if they could imagine a movie that wasn’t there, they’d be filmmakers.
However I think I’ve finally found the perfect tool to explain what work-in-progress means – The Mummy (2017) trailer.
Someone at Warner Brother accidentally posted the first trailer for The Mummy with several audio tracks missing, including most sound effects, backgrounds, and music. It was up long enough to be ripped, reposted, and written about. The result was… well, I’ll let you watch for yourself:
The Mummy – missing sound
The Mummy – full sound
As you can see – without full foley and music, the trailer is almost comedic. With sound, it feels like a real blockbuster. That’s the difference those final touches of music, and sound can make.
Can you imagine what it’d be like without visual effects, and those pilots reaction to nothing, or Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis rolling around on wires, and then falling out into a green screen?
If you need to explain work-in-progress to someone – a client, test audience, or less film-literate collaborator – just show them those two trailers back to back.