Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz

Nancy Kirhoffer (Post Production Supervisor & Producer) on Filmmaking, Post, & Test Screenings

March 01, 2023 Kevin Goetz / Nancy Kirhoffer Season 2023 Episode 14
Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz
Nancy Kirhoffer (Post Production Supervisor & Producer) on Filmmaking, Post, & Test Screenings
Show Notes Transcript

Kevin is joined by Nancy Kirhoffer, a highly experienced post-production supervisor, to delve into the intricacies of successfully bringing movies to completion.

Nancy Kirhoffer, Post-Production Supervisor
Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Nancy Kirhoffer, a distinguished post-production specialist with over 150 films to her name. With a remarkable career spanning indie films to blockbuster hits, Nancy has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the art of bringing movies to completion. In this episode, Nancy shares her insights on the intricacies of post-production, the challenges and rewards of audience test screenings, and the secrets to delivering a successful final product.

What is the role of a post-production supervisor/producer? (3:04)
Kevin and Nancy discuss the role of a post-production producer and the difference between a post-production producer and a post-production supervisor and how her role has changed over time.

How Nancy got her start by working with one of her idols (7:30)
Nancy recounts getting her start in Hollywood, crashing film classes, and how she went from a PA to working as an assistant with one of her idols, Mary Lambert.

Guiding first-time filmmakers through the screening process (16:07)
Nancy has done a lot of work with independent filmmakers and first-time directors. Kevin asks Nancy what it is like walking a first-time director through the screening process. Nancy discusses the importance of getting out of the editing room and into a theater to see how the movie plays on the big screen, and in front of an audience.

Screening surprises and Neighbors 2 (20:35)
Kevin asks Nancy about the biggest surprise she has seen at an audience test screening. Nancy talks about the screening for Neighbors 2 and the changes that had to be made to improve the testing scores.

Walking Olivia Wilde through her first test screening (22:54)
Nancy shares a story about the first audience screening for the movie Booksmart and walking first-time director Olivia Wilde through the screening process.

Working with Screen Engine/ASI and what sets them apart (28:19)
Nancy talks about working with Kevin’s company, Screen Engine/ASI, and how the moderators at Screen Engine have a real and genuine love of movies. The pair discuss some of the intricacies of audience screen testing, and how the moderator’s enthusiasm for movies can add authenticity to the screening process.

The most important questions asked at a screen test (32:18)
Kevin asks Nancy about moderator questions during a focus group. Kevin and Nancy both share the questions that they find to be the most useful to the filmmakers.

Advice for anyone wanting to go into the field of post-production (37:21)
Nancy discusses the role of post-production, and the skill set required to be a good post-production supervisor. She talks about money and time and being able to manage both while keeping a project on track.

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Nancy Kirhoffer
Producer:  Kari Campano

For more information about Nancy Kirhoffer:

For more information about Kevin Goetz:
Audienceology Book:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Website:

Podcast: Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz 
Guest:  Post Production Supervisor and Producer Nancy Kirhoffer
Interview Transcript:

Announcer (00:02):

There's a little-known part of Hollywood that most people are not aware of known as the audience test preview. The recently released book, Audienceology, reveals this for the first time. Our podcast series, Don't Kill the Messenger, brings this book to life, taking a peek behind the curtain. And now, join author and entertainment research expert, Kevin Goetz.

Kevin Goetz (00:24):

My guest today has been quoted as saying movies are made in post-production. I can't say I disagree with that. She then goes on to explain that is truly where the three principle elements--the picture, the sound, and the music-- converge. And I thought it would be really interesting to talk about the post-production part of the business. For those of you who have read my book, Audienceology, you know that we talk a lot about the process of screening a movie for an audience before it's released, and that happens in the post-production period. Nancy Kirhoffer is my guest, and she is so accomplished. I don't think she ever has fewer than 8 to 10 movies on her docket at any given time. Movies like Being the Ricardos, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, Booksmart, Molly's Game, Scream, the most recent Scream, which is not out yet, and then I Feel Pretty, Ouija, and Neighbors 2, to name a few. And that would be a normal group of movies that she'd work on at any given time. I don’t know how she does it, but she does it. When I see her, I light up. She's such a pro. And I just want to say that it is a pleasure to bring a different perspective to the program by inviting Nancy Kirhoffer here today. Nancy, welcome.

Nancy Kirhoffer (02:06):

Thank you. It's an honor to be here. It's, I just love seeing your face. It just makes me happy.

Kevin Goetz (02:10):

Oh, Nancy. Well, Nancy and I have known each other, how long has it been? My Lord.

Nancy Kirhoffer (02:17):

Oh my God. My very first preview was you. I mean, I think my very first preview was like, I Know What You Did Last Summer with Neil Moritz.

Kevin Goetz (02:23):

Oh my Lord.

Nancy Kirhoffer (02:23):

And that was my very first movie.

Kevin Goetz (02:24):

Did you hear the podcast with Neil as my guest?

Nancy Kirhoffer (02:27):

I heard part of it. I didn't finish it. Oh, yeah. But I will, I promise.

Kevin Goetz (02:31):

Yes. Yeah. No, he's wonderful and it's really good. And it's funny, my husband did the ad campaign, so I was very connected to that movie. Funny. But, that was the first time we met. Yeah. Wow. That's a lot of years ago. Yeah. That's a lot of years ago. And I want to ask you something right off the bat, because a lot of our listeners aren't aware of really what a post-production person does. Right. Okay. And you also are credited as both a post-production producer and a post-production supervisor. Can you also share what the difference is between those two?

Nancy Kirhoffer (03:04):

You know, the job has evolved a lot in the last couple years. I mean, I started as a post-supervisor. We all did, we're all post-supervisors by nature. And it used to be where I'd get hired and there would be a producer on board and a studio exec, and there's a chain of command. And I would come on, I was a supervisor, so I would always answer to somebody else, like a producer, most likely, or a head of post-production at a studio. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But lately, the change in the dynamic of the industry is A, post-production starts way sooner. I'm usually, as a post producer, come on in prep to help get the show up and running. And a lot of times there aren't the same structure of people. Like no one is actually producing in post-production. There isn't oftentimes a producer who is boots on the ground day-to-day in the cutting room.

Kevin Goetz (03:51):

But that's a, that's a line producer, but that's a post-producer. The idea of a, the operative word being post, that's come, we'd come into prep. What are you going to do during prep?

Nancy Kirhoffer (04:01):

Well, what happens now is because it's just such a colossal amount of work that happens in visual effects and in setting up editorial, these things where it used to be the line producer would do it, or a head of post-production. They're too busy with so many other tasks. And also don't forget, like it used to be an average studio exec would be overseeing a handful of projects. Now they have tons of them because so much content is being shot. Like more movies are being made now than ever in the history of…

Kevin Goetz (04:27):

How do you accept a movie?

Nancy Kirhoffer (04:29):

Well, again, offer usually comes from somebody I know, like I don't have an agent or anything else, word of mouth. Word of mouth. And someone will call me in, like, if someone I worked with in the past who I've had a good experience with and they say, Hey, look, I got this movie. Would you be interested? Are you available? I'm like, well, let me see the script.

Kevin Goetz (04:43):

It's not just because I'm your friend, but you absolutely have a stellar reputation. And people always like working with you. And they also return.

Nancy Kirhoffer (04:53):

A lot of people. And I thank you for saying that. Apparently, someone told me once I've done like 140 or 150 movies in my career, I was shocked when they said that. And I'm like, that's impossible. Uhhuh. <laugh>. But then I guess it is possible. But of all those movies, I would say there's a handful that I failed at, like five or six that I just…

Kevin Goetz (05:09):

Define failure.

Nancy Kirhoffer (05:10):

You know, like, I didn't get on with the filmmaker, I didn't do my best work. I, you know, just, it didn't, didn't go the way I wished it had gone. Right. And those, the ones I think about every day and those filmmakers and people who don't work.

Kevin Goetz (05:23):

It's so human. I just want to say that is such a human thing. Yeah. Don't we all do that? Yeah. I, I'll work on a movie, screening the movie, and I'll have five screenings in a row that just go flawlessly. And then one where my respondents in the focus group are just lousy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, or I'm off, I'm just having an off day or something and it just doesn't gel.

Nancy Kirhoffer (05:44):

Yep. It happens.

Kevin Goetz (05:45):

And you obsess about that.

Nancy Kirhoffer (05:46):

I totally do. I, I mean, my last movie that I would say that just didn't go well, I think about all the things I could have done differently and I wish I had done differently. And you can't go back. I mean, the movie's done, it's been delivered, it's been screened, everyone saw it, it's already out. But I go back and I go, I could have done that better. I could have handled that situation better. I mean, oftentimes in post, we're in the pressure cooker. We come through the screening process, we come through the pushes and extensions and VFX delays and music delays and all these delays. And we still have a, a ticking clock where we have to deliver the movie. And it gets really intense. And sometimes you just don't make the best decisions or handle it the best way.

Kevin Goetz (06:21):

You know, you bring up the post-production producer, we didn't really get to the supervisor part. Is it essentially the same thing?

Nancy Kirhoffer (06:28):

It is the same thing. And it discerns what credit I take on whatever movie it is. I mean, I pretty much did…

Kevin Goetz (06:33):

Before or after?

Nancy Kirhoffer (06:33):

Well, I mean, usually hired, right? I mean, just hired as Nancy Kirhoffer, can you do the post-production? I'm, I'm the post-production gal. Right. And then it's never really stipulated like what my credit's going to be. Now there are some companies or some people who will never give me a post-producer. It's a thing, you're a post supervisor and it's a, it's kind of like the caste system. Like you are just not going to get beyond that. So I'm like, fine, no harm, no foul. Like I'm not fighting. You know? But there are movies where…

Kevin Goetz (06:58):

You really are contributing in a different way.

Nancy Kirhoffer (07:00):

I was the producer, like there was nobody there on the ground, boots on the ground. And there were very difficult conversations.

Kevin Goetz (07:05):

And are you getting different money for that, by the way? I hate to ask, but.

Nancy Kirhoffer (07:08):

No, it's never about money, never about money.

Kevin Goetz (07:09):

In other words, they're paying your fee period.

Nancy Kirhoffer (07:12):

You pay my fee.

Kevin Goetz (07:12):

So if you're doing more work that's just on you.

Nancy Kirhoffer (07:15):

That's kind of the rub to post supervisors, producers. Like we are the line producers. Right? Like the very, very worst line producer working today makes more money than the best of us as supervisors post. Oh, right. I mean, it's kind of…

Kevin Goetz (07:28):

How did you come up in this business?

Nancy Kirhoffer (07:30):

I always wanted to work in the movie business. Always. I loved, I grew up in Connecticut where oftentimes we're snowed in and you know, we'd be like, I lived in rural, rural Connecticut where all I did all day was watch TV and watch movies. And I just obsessed about it. And so I graduated from high school and just came straight here. My mother, poor sweet mother had like a heart attack.

Kevin Goetz (07:50):

Came right to Hollywood.

Nancy Kirhoffer (07:52):

Came right, well, circumnavigated and came to San Diego and I lived with an uncle. And then got to, got to LA within like, so when I was 18 here…

Kevin Goetz (08:00):

What's your first job?

Nancy Kirhoffer (08:02):

Well then I was working as a frozen yogurt place. Right. <laugh>. I mean, I really didn't break in like I wanted to, but my very first real job, like I got on set was working for a film director as her assistant. And I loved it.

Kevin Goetz (08:14):

As her assistant. Yeah, that must have been interesting because when you came up, there were very few female directors.

Nancy Kirhoffer (08:21):

Well, I didn't have the money to go to school, to film school. So I used to crash film classes. I used to like go to places, I'd volunteer and then I would crash the classes and, and I had this really track this, this film director, I'm going to drop her name Because hey I can, it's Mary Lambert. She was, I idolized Mary Lambert.

Kevin Goetz (08:38):

Mary Lambert. I just spoke to her. Love her. I did Pet Semetery with her.

Nancy Kirhoffer (08:41):

Well, I love Pet Semetery. I've seen it like 17,000 times. But I also love the movie Siesta that she did. Yeah. I loved it. I loved it. I actually was so poor and this is really going to be not good for my character, but I was so poor. But I wanted to own the movie. It was a VHS cassette, dating myself. Right. It was $99 to buy this movie. Right. $99. Oh my God. I didn't make $99 a week at the time. Right. Of course. So I went to like some Video Hut place, whatever it was now long out of business. So I can't make restitution for it.

Kevin Goetz (09:11):

I worked at a Video Hut, by the way, in New York City. Okay.

Nancy Kirhoffer (09:14):

This was in L.A. so I didn't steal from you. But what I did was I went to the back bin. And this is the old days before scanning. It was all, all stickers. Right. This was like long ago.

Kevin Goetz (09:22):

Oh, I get it. We used to shrink wrap the boxes. So people would…

Nancy Kirhoffer (09:26):

This is a blow dryer, right?

Kevin Goetz (09:27):

So this Is the blow dryer. So people would think they're getting a new copy. <laugh>.

Nancy Kirhoffer (09:30):

Well I went to the back to like, you know, whatever, like the worst movies were that were $9.99. And I switched the tags and I went to, so I put the, took off the $99 tag and put the $9.99 tag. Oh my God. So I bought it for 10 bucks. Oh. And that was a big purchase for me at the time. Right.

Kevin Goetz (09:46):

No, it's a big theft is what happened. That's, that is a big theft.

Nancy Kirhoffer (09:47):

I actually stole like 90 bucks from a Video Hut, but that's how much I admired Mary's work. Wow. And I watched the movie.

Kevin Goetz (09:54):

Did you ever tell Mary that?

Nancy Kirhoffer (09:55):

I may have. I, when I, I actually don't know. Mary, do you know that story?

Kevin Goetz (09:58):

We should get her on? We should get her on this.

Nancy Kirhoffer (09:59):

We should do a podcast together. So that was my, and I watched it and I studied her. Like I loved so much about it, because the music was amazing, Miles Davis, the cast was amazing. Anyway, then weirdly enough, I mean out of many happenstances, I'm a PA on that thing and Mary's one of the directors of the scene.

Kevin Goetz (10:17):

Isn't that insane?

Nancy Kirhoffer (10:18):

And it, and it was like…

Kevin Goetz (10:18):


Nancy Kirhoffer (10:19):

Oh my god.

Kevin Goetz (10:20):

Mary Lambert and like, and they, but they say blah blah, they say, never meet your heroes. They'll disappoint you. Did. That was not the case?

Nancy Kirhoffer (10:27):

It was not the case. I met her. So I was the PA on the show and she had this amazing assistant. So I'm like, I'll never get close to her. Because her assistant was amazing. And then I, all of a sudden I became friends with the assistant and the assistant basically told me she was leaving because she had another job offer. And she had been with Mary for a while. And was I interested in the, I mean this is a true story, was I interested in taking over her job? I'm like, are you kidding me? Oh my Lord.

Kevin Goetz (10:49):

What a, what a break.

Nancy Kirhoffer (10:49):

It was crazy. And so I ended up being Mary's assistant for a few years and I learned so much.

Kevin Goetz (10:56):

How did you land though, in post-production? Because well then that's, you're so associated with that particular, well part of the filmmaking process. And for those listeners who aren't as aware, there's a pre-production process. Yeah. Prep it's called. And then there's the production cycle. Mm-hmm <affirmative> where you're actually in production and shooting. And then of course there's the post-production process. Yeah. How long is a post-production process typically?

Nancy Kirhoffer (11:18):

26 weeks.

Kevin Goetz (11:19):

26 weeks. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> six months.

Nancy Kirhoffer (11:22):

Yep. I tend to always say that's the sweet spot. It could be as short as 20 weeks. It could be as long as a year.

Kevin Goetz (11:27):

Who do you mostly interact with in your area? Well, the picture editor?

Nancy Kirhoffer (11:32):

Well, the picture editor.

Kevin Goetz (11:33):

The sound editors?

Nancy Kirhoffer (11:34):

I am mostly Directly involved with the film editor for sure. That's my number one ally.

Kevin Goetz (11:38):

Always picture editor.

Nancy Kirhoffer (11:38):

Picture editor. Okay, the director, I work very closely with the director and then hopefully a producer's involved somewhat. So those are the three key relationships I have in post. And then of course the post crew, which is the sound crew, the music crew, the VA.

Kevin Goetz (11:52):

Do you organize the score? Do you go to score sessions? Do you go to mixing sessions?

Nancy Kirhoffer (11:56):

I do. I go to as many as I can. Yeah. I don't organize a score session. Usually, the music supervisor does that, but I go.

Kevin Goetz (12:03):

Do you go to color timing sessions?

Nancy Kirhoffer (12:05):

Oh yeah. Yeah.

Kevin Goetz (12:06):

So really you're involved in all of those things and have to make sure all of them go smoothly.

Nancy Kirhoffer (12:11):

And they're amazing too.

Kevin Goetz (12:12):

And how many folks do you have working for you?

Nancy Kirhoffer (12:14):

I have a coordinator and an assistant.

Kevin Goetz (12:17):

Any names?

Nancy Kirhoffer (12:18):

Not dropping names.

Kevin Goetz (12:20):


Nancy Kirhoffer (12:21):

<laugh> David and Jordan <laugh>. Yeah. But now I have a, you know, staff.

Kevin Goetz (12:24):

I know David for years. Yeah. He's fantastic. Just fantastic. Yep. It's interesting to hear about who you interact with. Can you share with our listeners who really was a joy other than Mary, who was a joy to work with? I'm kind of going to go to the other side, which you may answer, you may not. But who really sort of respected, got, understood the process in a really incredible way and made you feel really part of the process?

Nancy Kirhoffer (12:54):

Oh, interesting. Good question. I mean, most of them do. I mean like, I really have not had a bad experience.

Kevin Goetz (12:58):

Most of them do.

Nancy Kirhoffer (12:59):

Most of them do. I will say, you know, one of my all favorite human beings next to you, of course, walking the face of Earth is Aaron Sorkin. He is the first filmmaker director who ever gave me a shoutout at the premiere. First time ever.

Kevin Goetz (13:14):

Really? Yep. Of about 150 movies.

Nancy Kirhoffer (13:16):

Yep. Hey, look, my job is, I get things done, right? That's like the big thing. I get shit done.

Kevin Goetz (13:20):

I get shit done.

Nancy Kirhoffer (13:22):

I am not noticed unless I'm doing something bad. If I just do my job and do it really, really well, I make everyone else look great. I mean, everyone shines. So I don't really call attention to myself. Not many people go, oh my God, that was the best post-supervised movie ever. There's no such award. So a lot of times directors and producers don't know what I'm doing just because they'll think the editor did it or this person did it or whatever because I just make things move and keep it going and keep it going. Right. And it was Aaron who all, I mean, first time I'm sitting in the audience, you know, the premiere, I'm eating my big bucket of popcorn and he's making an introduction and then all of a sudden he says my name. I'm like, oh my God. And people are clapping and I've never, ever in my history of my career. That's, that's great. It was incredibly moving and he totally got what it was, how I brought the project to, and it was a herculean effort to get everything done on what we had to do.

Kevin Goetz (14:10):

Well, when I see you or colleagues of yours like Lisa Rogers, Lisa Dennis, or Paul Levin. Yeah. So many of the great post folks in our business, I'm always amazed at just all the details that you're dealing with. I see the mind going, you must be very nervous the night of a test screening. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I kind of want to talk about getting to the moment of the test preview and how that works in the schedule and how important it is. 

Nancy Kirhoffer (14:39):

Yeah. I start early on with, I work a lot with first-time directors. That's my, my thing. And I start early on prepping them for the preview because…

Kevin Goetz (14:47):

Now, why do you do mostly independent films? What's the reason for that?

Nancy Kirhoffer (14:50):

I love them. I love them. Oh, there you go. And I'm not a good studio person. Like I don't, I don't do well marching to orders.

Kevin Goetz (15:01):

Like were you kind of scrappier?

Nancy Kirhoffer (15:01):

I'm a little scrappier and I mean, studios are great and thank God for them, because they're amazing. And I love everyone who works at them. But I don't like being in an office. I, I love the fact that I spend more time in my car moving to different places than sitting in an office.

Kevin Goetz (15:15):

Does the studio pay more than an independent? And I only ask that because it can't be more or less work. I mean, it's probably the same work, right?

Nancy Kirhoffer (15:24):

Yeah. It's the same. I don't, I've never really asked if the…

Kevin Goetz (15:26):

I know that's an interesting question, isn't it? Because I'm thinking to myself, huh? Like, do you know we never have any money? Yeah. I'm sure that's part of your criteria, by the way, to accept a job or not if they don't have money to finish it, right?

Nancy Kirhoffer (15:39):

Yeah, for sure.

Kevin Goetz (15:40):

That has to be a part of the equation.

Nancy Kirhoffer (15:42):

But I think I like independent films because I get to work with such a variance of people. Like, like I don't just do one kind of movie and I don't work for one type of person, so I get to like really just go through the whole spectrum of different, you know, movies I get to work on and things interest me. So I think I'm pretty lucky.

Kevin Goetz (15:56):

So now the screening, you often have to persuade and let your particularly first-time filmmakers know just what this process means. And I'd like to hear from you.

Nancy Kirhoffer (16:07):

Because they're scared of it. It's a very scary thing. Why? Because you’re a first-time filmmaker, you have spent all this time in prep. You spend all this time in production, which is super exciting, right? You have all these people doing amazing things and it's like a big love fest and you're creating this stuff and you're like super exhausted in the best kind of way coming out of production. And then you go into post and something you don't really know about and all of a sudden it goes from being very big to being very intimate in the cutting room. And I believe that the director's cut is hallowed ground. It is a time for a director to just really marinate in their movie, to relax, to see it all from a different perspective. Because they've never really seen it. They've just seen dailies and they haven't seen it cut together. And they see the editor's assembly and oftentimes they're like, oh my gosh, it's not what I thought it was. So by the time they get through their 10-week director's cut, they're now releasing it to the world.

Kevin Goetz (16:58):

As I remember Toby Emmerich said to me, it's, it's when the rubber hits the road.

Nancy Kirhoffer (17:01):

Truly. And things that you may love as a filmmaker because you were on the set the day you created it and it was beautiful and funny and wonderful and you put it in your cut and you're not really quite sure if it's working, but you really hope it is. But an audience is going to tell you because they don't love you, like you love your work, they're going to tell you the truth and you don't know. And like there's, and a lot of time, first-time filmmakers are super afraid of losing that control because they had so much control to this point. It's the first time that actually they're now at the mercy of somebody else. So for me, I began really early on talking about what a gift it is. Like this is the really, the really important part.

Kevin Goetz (17:39):

It's your time to learn Yeah. Your laboratory if you will. Right? Yeah, totally. Especially in independent films, because often you don't have the studio execs coming to a first preview. Nope. And many studio execs are very respectful and have gotten more so by allowing the filmmaker to have that first preview with no one attending. Yep. And I think it's really important. I think it is too, you know, because you have to kind of fall on your face sometimes to make it even better than it started out.

Nancy Kirhoffer (18:07):

I actually, oftentimes as we get into like the second pass for director's cut, which is like week six or so.

Kevin Goetz (18:12):

Wait a minute. Second pass of the director is week six.

Nancy Kirhoffer (18:15):

So, so.

Kevin Goetz (18:16):

Yeah, explain this to people.

Nancy Kirhoffer (18:17):

The DGA director's cut is 10 weeks. So the clock starts after the editor has assembled all the footage into a complete linear cut of the script.

Kevin Goetz (18:27):

But usually, it is the director has a hand in that first assembly.

Nancy Kirhoffer (18:31):

No. I mean, certainly the director will have seen cut scenes and stuff, but usually the editor will assemble the picture.

Kevin Goetz (18:36):

And this is what we have.

Nancy Kirhoffer (18:37):

Yeah. And this is where we start from. And oftentimes the scenes run long because they want the director to come in and just see how it all lays out. And then, so the first pass is really going through every, making sure you have all the takes and that kind of thing. So the pass is usually like three hours long. And so that usually the first pass is two, three weeks. And the second pass is within the 10-week period.

Kevin Goetz (18:55):

Within the 10-week period.

Nancy Kirhoffer (18:56):

Yeah. So they have like the first two or three weeks is their, of the director's cuts the first pass and they do a second pass. And so by the time like they're getting towards the end of the director's cut, you're hoping they've gone through the movie a couple times. Not always the case by the way, but you're hoping that they've had time to like go through it. And most movies, you want the sweet spots between a hundred minutes and two hours depending on the movie, of course. So I always say to the, the filmmakers put it in a theater. I don't care if it's just you and the editor need to get out of the cutting room, stop looking on the TV and sit in a theater. Whether you invite some people, whether you have a quote unquote friends or family, whatever it is, you need to get out of the intimacy of your cutting room and see it projected on the screen, so it feels like a movie to you.

Kevin Goetz (19:37):

I have some major filmmakers who've screened their movie six weeks after they finish shooting. 

Nancy Kirhoffer (19:42):

Yeah. Many, many do.

Kevin Goetz (19:43):

Exactly. So that they're just waving that right. In other words, right?

Nancy Kirhoffer (19:46):

Yeah. Well yeah. The DGA gives 10 weeks but they can do it in faster than 10. Because that's up to them. They can, they can do whatever they want.

Kevin Goetz (19:52):

But it doesn't mean they're out of their cut. Nope. And they're still in their 10 weeks. But a lot of 'em, just like, to your point man. Yeah. A lot of these people like to use the time with the audience feedback to create their cut.

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:04):

Yeah, for sure.

Kevin Goetz (20:05):

And so then after the 10-week cut?

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:07):

Then you go to the official preview process and usually that's a period of like four to six weeks, depending on how many previews you can afford, how many previews this duty wants to do.

Kevin Goetz (20:15):

And then post-production is really based on a backwards scenario working back from a mm-hmm. <affirmative> delivery date. Correct? Yep.

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:21):

Exactly. Right.

Kevin Goetz (20:21):

And who sets that delivery date?

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:23):

The distributor.

Kevin Goetz (20:24):

What if there's no distributor? Do you set it?

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:26):

Then it's really based on how much money you have. Got it. Because there's a weekly.

Kevin Goetz (20:29):

To keep the editing.

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:30):

There's a weekly operating cost, so, sure. Yeah. So you need to like, how much money do you have for post, how much money you have for editing.

Kevin Goetz (20:35):

What's one of the biggest surprises you've ever seen at a preview? You've probably, because with 150 titles, you're probably looking at a minimum of 500 previews that you've attended.

Nancy Kirhoffer (20:47):

Totally. Well, I'm pretty good at guessing. I've done so many now. I can usually be pretty close to what I think it's going to be. I think the biggest surprise to me was I worked on a sequel to a very successful movie.

Kevin Goetz (20:58):


Nancy Kirhoffer (21:00):

Nope, not dropping names.

Kevin Goetz (21:02):


Nancy Kirhoffer (21:03):

Oh, I can, right? I mean yeah. If it's been released. So I did the sequel to Neighbors, I did Neighbors 2.

Kevin Goetz (21:10):

Oh, we did that together. 

Nancy Kirhoffer (21:10):

Yeah, we did. And so Neighbors one was amazing, right? It was super funny and like did super successful and everyone was, it was great. So they did one and they decided to flip it and be like a sorority, like be with girls. Right? So, basically it's taken the same premise of like, you know, fraternity boys being naughty and let's have the girls do it <laugh>. And we thought it was hilarious. Like I'd seen it a couple times, but what we learned in the preview process is that stuff that boys got away with <laugh>, the girls didn't really, the humor wasn't there. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I mean, the movie was still funny. And when we finished it, it was hilarious.

Kevin Goetz (21:44):

But there were moments in parts, right. You had to sort of.

Nancy Kirhoffer (21:47):

And the number was super low.

Kevin Goetz (21:48):

But how did it end? Way up there. Okay, so you, what you learned is Uh oh, we better, we better have a different kind of guardrail here.

Nancy Kirhoffer (21:56):

Yeah. Well they realize…

Kevin Goetz (21:57):

It's like the jokes and so forth.

Nancy Kirhoffer (21:57):

Yeah. But, but plays. Right. Not all audiences are the same. Not all movies are the same. Not all characters are the same.

Kevin Goetz (22:02):

Did you do any re-shoots?

Nancy Kirhoffer (22:03):

Yeah. The guys were, I think these guys are brilliant. I mean, these guys are super funny. They're brilliant. And so they're just like, and they all laughed like, oh yeah, okay. And so they wrote some new scenes. They retweaked the characters and it was hilarious in the end. And we also previewed like six times.

Kevin Goetz (22:18):

And it was successful?

Nancy Kirhoffer (22:19):

Super successful.

Kevin Goetz (22:20):

But, you know, comedies, I gotta tell you, comedies, Sacha Baron Cohen mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Judd Apatow, so many of the great comedy directors really embrace the process of screening their movies. Because often they don't even care about the numbers as much as just listening to the audience and seeing how things, how their jokes are landing, and trying new jokes.

Nancy Kirhoffer (22:40):

That's exactly right.

Kevin Goetz (22:41):

And that's you're saying what Neighbors 2 did and ultimately went from a what was an average result to a really great result. Yeah. Yeah. That's so great. Because by the way, your filmmakers listened. Yeah. You know? Yeah.

Nancy Kirhoffer (22:54):

Another really great story is I did Booksmart with Olivia Wilde, who's the real deal. She's amazing. And I specifically told her when we go to the preview, she was nervous of the preview. Of course. Right. And I said…

Kevin Goetz (23:05):

Was that her first preview? First preview?

Nancy Kirhoffer (23:07):

Oh yeah. First preview, first movie. And I said, whatever you do, because they, they snuck her in the back because they obviously, as they do with any sort of celebrity, they want to make sure that the audience doesn't see you come in. And so, but Olivia was unique in the fact that she's a celebrity, but she was the filmmaker, the director. And I said to her, tape off a seat in the middle of the theater. And she's not understanding exactly why I'm saying, I said, because you want to make sure you're, you're feeling the audience.

Kevin Goetz (23:29):

Absolutely. And really immersed.

Nancy Kirhoffer (23:31):

So the movie starts and we're at this really wonky theater, if you remember out in Woodland Hills that had that…

Kevin Goetz (23:37):

That AMC.

Nancy Kirhoffer (23:38):

Yeah. That had the weird acoustics. Right.

Kevin Goetz (23:41):

Actually, it's my favorite comedy house.

Nancy Kirhoffer (23:42):

It's a great comedy house. It's number one comedy house. It's gone, it's gone. Gone. But, but it had that weird acoustics.

Kevin Goetz (23:46):

Very weird, but beautiful for a comedy. Yep. Because it really almost sounded like there were double the number of people.

Nancy Kirhoffer (23:52):

But the one thing you cannot do is sit in the back because the back is very boomy. You can't hear anything.

Kevin Goetz (23:57):

Sure. And also there was a slight overhead.

Nancy Kirhoffer (23:58):

Right. So you really, and you, it's a dead zone. Right.

Kevin Goetz (24:01):

But I just want people to listen to how we talk about theaters and sound, it all matters. Keep going.

Nancy Kirhoffer (24:08):

So I say Liv, just when you come in, there's a seat. So of course the movie starts and it's all a little hectic because she doesn't want to miss it. So she comes running in and she takes the first seat that's available in the back row. Oh. And I can't do anything at this point. Cause I'm like looking at her and, and I'm like, oh man alive. Right. Anyways, movie plays amazing. Right. The audience loved it, loved it. It played great. You did it. It was hilarious. So, movie ends, she goes out in the back and she's livid because it sounded terrible. It was a terrible screen. I mean literally, she's really upset. And I'm like, I'm like, Olivia, it played great. No, it didn't. And I'm like, honestly, I'm telling you, it's where you sat. Anyway, make a long story short, she comes in for the focus group and this is the time before we had the handheld devices where we don't have the number, which is we had to wait for the number while we're doing the focus group. And she's really anxious as, as we all were. And of course the numbers come back, it scored really, really well. People loved it. And, and it was that kind of moment of like, aha, I get it.

Kevin Goetz (25:10):

But you know, I have to tell you something. I purposely, when I produce a movie or have produced a dozen movies, I will purposely ask to listen on the shit boxes they call them. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, or the junk boxes or it, which are mono mm-hmm. <affirmative> because I want the worst way to hear an experience. And so I think it, it was actually a happy accident in a way because then when she saw the next time and probably sat in a really good place. Totally. She suddenly, oh my gosh. Yeah. Right?

Nancy Kirhoffer (25:42):

The most important thing is to feel and hear your audience.

Kevin Goetz (25:47):

You videotape the audience typically?

Nancy Kirhoffer (25:48):

Sometimes. Sometimes not.

Kevin Goetz (25:49):


Nancy Kirhoffer (25:50):

Infrared. Yeah. Depends. Some people do. Some people, it depends on the studio, whether they have the technology. Right. I mean, more often now we're doing it on all comedies. We're doing it. Absolutely. It's super helpful.

Kevin Goetz (25:58):

It's super. Tell us why, because I agree with you completely.

Nancy Kirhoffer (26:01):

Well a lot of times the stadium seating, you're missing some of the humor, like people laughing because it's all getting absorbed in the seats and the way the rake is. So at least if you have, if you're recording it, what we try to do is we get the recording, we sync it up in the avid so you're seeing the audience play while you're editing. So you can see what jokes they were laughing at because you could maybe didn't hear it or feel it, but then you can see it. You also can see when they start shifting in their seats. 

Kevin Goetz (26:25):

Well, you got it. Here's what I like to do. And recommend play the movie on fast forward and look at the cadence of the comedy. Yeah. And where there are slow parts and you sync it up to where it is in the movie. And you could actually, it's so fascinating. Nancy, when you're doing, because you know that often if a movie, a comedy particularly is too long, if you truncate it, suddenly making it a little shorter mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you will somehow get the jokes closer together and the movie becomes funnier. Yeah. Often not all the time, but…

Nancy Kirhoffer (26:55):

Or sometimes they're too truncated and you're missing the jokes.

Kevin Goetz (26:59):

Well that’s what we learn too. Steps on it. Yeah. Steps on it as well. But I'm saying in terms of looking at the video footage in fast forward gives you that saying, wow, they are, they're restless here. Yeah. You know, we gotta fill that. Yeah. We gotta fill that with a joke or we've gotta edit it tighter. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think that's really, really sort of fascinating. Yeah. We're going to pause our conversation here just for a moment. We'll be right back.

Announcer (27:23):

Get a glimpse into a secret part of Hollywood that few are aware of and that filmmakers rarely talk about in the new book Audienceology by Kevin Goetz. Each chapter is filled with never before revealed inside stories and interviews from famous studio chiefs, directors, producers, and movie stars, bringing the art and science of audienceology into focus. Audienceology, How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love, from Tiller Press at Simon and Schuster. Available now.

Kevin Goetz (27:55):

We are back. So, the screening process, I know you've been so kind to Screen Engine/ASI and you've used us since I founded the company and very grateful for that. We try to please you because you're, you have a certain expectation of excellence. What does it mean for you to work with us? And what is it that you demand and why do you demand that level of excellence?

Nancy Kirhoffer (28:19):

Well, all your moderators are at a certain level, right? I've had to use other companies. I mean, we do, it's business, and sometimes I don't have control over that next thing. I know we're doing it with so-and-so at so-and-so and I'm like, ooh, this is not going to go well. But the one thing that I truly love about your company and Screen Engine is that your moderators are spot on and there’s already a love for filmmaking. Right. They already, like you and Terry and Aaron, you, you already love movies. You've already seen, like, you've seen everything and there's a general enthusiasm that you have.

Kevin Goetz (28:53):

There's a genuine love of movies. That's a very good point.

Nancy Kirhoffer (28:56):

And, and, and that's what you need. Because when you are selling to this, to these focus groups, so like, I'm not part of the movie <affirmative>, which you really are kind of, but you're, but you're not. And so you're like, you saw it for the first time when they saw it for the first time. It's very rare you see it beforehand. Very rare. Sometimes we show it to you beforehand, but very rare. So you're enjoying it for the first time with them. And then you have this genuine conversation about the movie that feels real.

Kevin Goetz (29:20):

Well, like you just said, two words that really struck me, genuine and real. Because if you aren't authentic with the audience, they're not going to give you authentic responses, are they? I've seen it happen. I know you have. And so I was going to ask you, can you give me an example where you heard a comment in a group that really was going to take the thing south, or perhaps it might have been saved by the moderator, but you know that it really could be damaging or that you cringed because you knew it was a sore spot for your director or something like that.

Nancy Kirhoffer (29:51):

I have been in previews, not with you, but I have been in previews where the moderator is leading the group down a path that is serving an agenda for a marketing purpose. That may not be what's best for the movie in general or what the director needed to hear, or, but sometimes it happens. Right? And those are the times that you feel it. Right?

Kevin Goetz (30:17):

And conscious of that there's a focus group, you mean period.

Nancy Kirhoffer (30:20):

Yeah. There's a group and that you're, they're being led down a path, like you and, and sometimes you have to ask the tough questions and sometimes you are handed a question that the filmmakers need to know, but it's, there are times where I…

Kevin Goetz (30:30):

But you have to find a way, as you're saying, to bake it in so that it doesn't feel like you're leading them. Because obviously there are marketing questions that you have to bring up and it could be in a somewhat inelegant way to get there, but you have to figure out a way to get there organically and elegantly, I suppose.

Nancy Kirhoffer (30:46):

Yeah. Well look, for instance, like a bad question would be, did you like the ending? You know, that's a bad question.

Kevin Goetz (30:51):

That's a focus group faux pas. You don't ever ask that.

Nancy Kirhoffer (30:53):

You don't ever ask that question, but you ask question more like…

Kevin Goetz (30:56):

What are your thoughts of the ending?

Nancy Kirhoffer (30:57):

Exactly. What, what did you, what did you respond to or what did you like?

Kevin Goetz (31:00):

When I say ending, what comes to mind?

Nancy Kirhoffer (31:02):

Exactly, as opposed to leading them down. Cause like no I didn't, right?

Kevin Goetz (31:05):

Often when speaking about ending, I'll ask the question, when I say ending what comes to mind mm-hmm. <affirmative> because I say, let me expand on that. What is the actual scene or part that you imagine as being the ending? Because you could have an entire discussion where someone is thinking, they're talking about the Codaending and someone is talking about the ending from when they rescued them from the police station, do you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> like that. And so you want to know what they're talking about first to make sure we're all on the same page. Right. What I'll often do is take an ending. The ending, as we know, is so important to the overall scores of a movie because it's what the people are left with. Yep. I'll often take it scene by scene and kind of get consensus as to, is that part working, not working, working okay, working really well, not working so well. Yep. And you can actually build a case to see that the second and the fourth part of that sequence of the end are less than effective. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think that's really helpful for a filmmaker.

Nancy Kirhoffer (32:06):

That is super helpful. And that is the helpful question. That is the helpful way to get to that answer. Yeah, for sure.

Kevin Goetz (32:12):

What is your favorite question in a focus group? What is the thing that you find the most helpful question?

Nancy Kirhoffer (32:18):

I think one of the most important questions you ask, whether I think it's helpful or not, will you recommend this to your friends? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what would you say? That is the most important thing that you're going to glean from the whole experience. Will you recommend it? And what would you say?

Kevin Goetz (32:34):

And you know what mine is, that's usually at a marketing screening more geared for a final screening. That question for me, because I think it is a great question. To me, my favorite question is, if you didn't rate the movie excellent, you gave it a very good, which is still a good rating. Or you gave it a good and you didn't give it even a very good, why not?

Nancy Kirhoffer (32:57):

What's holding you back?

Kevin Goetz (32:58):

What's holding you back? Yeah. And sometimes the gold that comes out of that.

Nancy Kirhoffer (33:02):

Yes. Agreed. Agreed.

Kevin Goetz (33:03):

And you know, by nature of the way we structure a focus group mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we usually talk about the scenes and parts and characters they like best. We usually start with that. I love filmmakers that say, I love the first five minutes of a focus group, they're always designed to get, you know, by design the more positive responses. But then I ask the question so we're not leading them in if there's any holdback, what's the holdback? Yep. But then there's three areas that we ask almost always because there are three elements that have real impact. They are confusions, pace, and the ending. Yeah. And we really need to probe on those things. Yeah. And sometimes you get some really good stuff and sometimes it's a less, I don't know, less obvious answer.

Nancy Kirhoffer (33:49):

Yeah. I would say by and large, after a preview, one of the biggest things that are attacked is, is the ending. It's the number one area of the movie.

Kevin Goetz (33:59):

Because they'll forgive a lot before if you have a really good ending.

Nancy Kirhoffer (34:04):

But if you're not satisfied, if you as an audience are not satisfied by the end of the movie, then boom.

Kevin Goetz (34:08):

So funny you say that because satisfaction is really the key, but it's not just the word, the general satisfaction. It's two sides of the same coin. There are two things necessary in terms of satisfaction that need to be adhered to. The first is intellectual satisfaction. Are all my questions answered? Did the logic make sense or am I left to go what the f was that? But also emotional satisfaction. What did I feel? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And as we know with theatrical moviegoing in particular, that satisfaction level and that emotional connection will boost your definite recommend. To not have both of those, I find, is very rare to get a high score. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you kind of need both. Would you agree with that?

Nancy Kirhoffer (34:58):

I totally agree with that. Absolutely. People want to, they want to be surprised by a movie. They go into a movie and they don't really know exactly what they're getting into. So they want to go on a ride, they want to go on a journey, they want to be moved, they want to be transported for the X amount of time they're in the theater and they want to leave like feeling good.

Kevin Goetz (35:17):

You know, we talked about Mary Lambert before with reverence. As a woman in this industry, have you found it hard to navigate? Or have you never seen it as an impediment?

Nancy Kirhoffer (35:31):

I have to say for me personally, it's been my superpower.

Kevin Goetz (35:36):

Oh, I love it. Explain, please.

Nancy Kirhoffer (35:38):

So I came into post-production many years ago and there were only a few of us females doing it. And those of us who were female doing it, I didn't know that Lisas at the time, but they're working at the studio as a post-production person. So it wasn't many of us independent people. And so I used to love to go to the labs and to the back room with the stage and everything. Because at the time, mostly men working in the industry. And they loved the fact that I wanted to learn. They loved the fact that I asked the questions that I wanted to know. Like I wanted to know what mag was. I wanted to know what an M and E was. I mean, all these things that go…

Kevin Goetz (36:14):

Mag, what's a mag?

Nancy Kirhoffer (36:14):

35-millimeter mag. It's a, it's a film element. Like it's the unglamorous part of the business.

Kevin Goetz (36:19):

And what, what was the other thing you said?

Nancy Kirhoffer (36:21):

What was like negative cutting or what was, you know, you know, hazel team timing, married print, and all those things. Right. Like it was men in ties running the labs, right? And I'd come in and I would like, I sat through every answer print screening. I was very good friends with the timers. I learned everything from these guys. 

Kevin Goetz (36:40):

There's no more answer prints.

Nancy Kirhoffer (36:41):

No, not at all.

Kevin Goetz (36:42):

And they're not cutting negative.

Nancy Kirhoffer (36:43):

They're not cutting negative anymore. D. Bassett was a female at Mo Henry. They were the preeminent negative cutters, but they were my friends. And but mostly it was men.

Kevin Goetz (36:52):

But you asked questions.

Nancy Kirhoffer (36:53):

I asked questions and I wanted to learn.

Kevin Goetz (36:54):

Do you think you had the same opportunities?

Nancy Kirhoffer (36:56):

I think so. I'm going to say, I think I came in at the exact moment where it was, the industry was changing. There was more opportunity, there was a lot more work. I never not worked.

Kevin Goetz (37:06):

If there was a young person coming up in the industry now, would you recommend what you do as a career?

Nancy Kirhoffer (37:12):

Yeah, I actually, I'm actually training people now. Like, you know, like people don't…

Kevin Goetz (37:16):

It's like our business, it's our job to do that, isn't it?

Nancy Kirhoffer (37:19):

Yeah, I think it is. I think it's really important.

Kevin Goetz (37:21):

But what would you tell a young person who maybe didn't know as much about your field, which is very particular, but very much the offshoot of what an overall producer does in the post area, primarily in the post area. What would you tell them and what advice would you give them?

Nancy Kirhoffer (37:42):

Well, you know what I say to everybody who comes as a PA or interviews to be working on our team, you come into post-production, you're going to learn from the back end, right? Like I, I produced movies. I was very fortunate that I had done a bunch of post movies for Neil Moritz and Neil gave me my first producing gig. I actually produced two movies, was a producer on two of his movies. Small movies, very, very small. Not his big movies. But he also said, hey, you're smart and you want to do this. I'm like, sure. But I knew how to do it because I saw what ended up on the cutting room floor. I saw the back end. I knew what things, how everything ended. Like you look at a cost report, you know everything, what everything cost. And so you will learn the end result.

Nancy Kirhoffer (38:20):

So when you go to the front end, you understand the process, you understand what's important, what's important to capture, what's important to what, when you're in production, what's important to the finishing of your movie, to the delivery of your movie, to selling of your movie. Which is ultimately what everyone wants to do, is they want the movie to be in a theater for people to enjoy. And that all happens in post-production. So it's a tremendous learning ground. And as a PA in post, you aren't regulated to one thing like you are in production either. You're like much more department oriented.

Kevin Goetz (38:49):

What, what are the primary skillsets?

Nancy Kirhoffer (38:50):


Kevin Goetz (38:51):

Primary. Primary.

Nancy Kirhoffer (38:53):

You are organized, that you are a go-getter. That you are proactive, that you…

Kevin Goetz (38:57):

Make shit happen.

Nancy Kirhoffer (38:58):

Make shit happen. And pivot at any moment things will go south in post-production. You just need to keep moving forward. I always said we just keep moving forward. Moving forward.

Kevin Goetz (39:06):

What are some of the pitfalls that you look out for in your profession? What are some of the major pitfalls that in lesser hands, uh oh?

Nancy Kirhoffer (39:15):

It is understanding your budget and your time. You have to literally, it's a big-picture thing, right? I'm a big-picture person. Like you have to look at the big picture of how much money do you have and how much time does that allow you. Because in production there's a finite amount of money as well. But oftentimes they're going into a contingency, they're doing other things. But like in post, we don't have the luxury.

Kevin Goetz (39:39):

Candidly, there have been times when you and I have had conversations, this is talking a little bit outta school, but not badly, where you've said we're doing a preview because they were trying something and you would come to me kind of off camera and you'd say, I have to lock this movie by Tuesday. Like I don't know what we can really do, but I'll tell you something, that's good information for me to have. Because you know that you can't go in and recommend a reshoot. You may be able to do that final thing in the end and lock the rest of the picture and then keep that. Am I right about that? We have to work sort of in tandem to understand because I'm trying to give you and the filmmakers the best information possible. So if I'm giving you something that is only going to make people frustrated and it's not helpful.

Nancy Kirhoffer (40:35):

Yeah. And that is a tricky thing. Like, you know, we come into a preview and you know, we're at week 12 of a 20-week schedule.

Kevin Goetz (40:42):

And where are, wait what? So 12 and a 20-week schedule. Yeah. What is that? That's, you're already nervous.

Nancy Kirhoffer (40:48):

You're already nervous because you're like, because now you're getting feedback and you're hoping that the picture is 90% in the pocket and that this preview is going to garner enough information that we can lock in two weeks. That's the main thing. Like you're hoping that the preview's going to go well, that we're pretty close to it and the information that we get is just going to put the final touches on it and we're good to go. Bad news is, if you like you’re week 15 of a 25-week schedule or 20-week schedule, whatever, and you get a 62, like you know, you're in big trouble. Like that's the worst case scenario because a 62 means it's good <laugh>.

Kevin Goetz (41:24):

I just want to say you get this intrinsically, a 62 is essentially an average score. Yeah. And what grade is an average? Yeah.

Nancy Kirhoffer (41:34):

It's a C. It's a C. And, and I tell us as filmmakers… 

Kevin Goetz (41:37):

It's a solid C. A solid C, and who wants to be a C? Nobody. And who can be a C? And you know, in this world it's almost like, remember there were, there were comments like content. I'm sorry, content is king. Yeah. You know, distribution is king. Marketing is king. Now it's back to content is not just, not just content is king, but great. Good content. Not good. Yeah. Great. Good is C, maybe B, great content is king.

Nancy Kirhoffer (42:05):

Well it depends on what you want to do. That's the new trick here. Right?

Kevin Goetz (42:08):

But even on any platform, as you know, because you've worked now with the streamers, no consumer, no customer, no moviegoer, no movie viewer wants to see subpar content. They want to all see great content regardless of the platform. Yep. Am I correct?

Nancy Kirhoffer (42:28):

Well, because they can, they can switch on something else.

Kevin Goetz (42:30):

You got it. And something great because there is so much really good stuff out there. Yep. So the bar has risen to a place where we have to aspire higher in order to fulfill on that claim.

Nancy Kirhoffer (42:44):

There have been plenty of movies. I mean I have worked on movies before that got in the sixties and seventies and like, ah, that's above, slightly above the norm. It could be okay. Because it's a niche movie, it'll do fine. That is no longer the case. Right. Like, because it basically means 40% of your audience is like, let's go watch the Queen's Gambit one more time. <laugh>. You know what I mean? <laugh>,

Kevin Goetz (43:03):

Well, yes. I mean the ecosystem of a movie viewer or a television viewer is so different than ours. Like, they don't think like, oh that's coming out then they don't even feel bad. Like they're not punishing you for that. They're just saying, well if you don't have that say day and date for me, I'm just going to see something else.

Nancy Kirhoffer (43:23):

When movies that are like going streaming and theatrical, but they're opening day and date. Right. With like Apple's doing it sometimes, you know, I think there's a two week window for Netflix now. Your first act is king. A lot of times you can have a slow burn. Like people are sitting in the audience, they've already bought their ticket, they have a two-hour window, like you can spend your time setting up and if the ending is really great, you have a success. Now you gotta hit it all. Like you gotta hit all the beats. That's right. Because if you're opening isn't good, if your first 10 minutes isn't, isn't good.

Kevin Goetz (43:50):

And you're streaming a movie, you're out.

Nancy Kirhoffer (43:52):

I’m like making, doing laundry and I’m like going back to Queen’s Gambit.

Kevin Goetz (43:55):

And by the way, the same thing is true of trailers. Yeah. The whole notion of a slow burn. Yeah. It doesn't work anymore. Nope. And people don't even remember where they necessarily saw a trailer. So did they see it in a theater? Did they see it online? If you have an online trailer, that's the one you defer to because that is the one that has to grab you right out of the gate and hold you and then end on a high note. It's a lot. Yeah, you're right. It's the same with the actual content itself. Yeah. Yeah. With the IP. Remember it used to be like, oh well that movie's relegated to home video. Yeah. Not so anymore. Not anymore. Now it's just like nobody wants to see subpar content.

Nancy Kirhoffer (44:36):

Which is kind of exciting though. Right?

Kevin Goetz (44:38):

It’s very exciting.

Nancy Kirhoffer (44:39):

Because it means that better material is being produced. Well, better filmmakers are working. Absolutely. I mean at first, it's a bit scary and now it's, I embrace it because everyone's got their game up. Right?

Kevin Goetz (44:48):

It's almost like I don't even want to use norms anymore. Yeah. I want to use targets. There are some studios that simply use targets. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because it's forget norms, that's what are they? Yeah. But it just gives you a basic sense of this is how most movies do, kind of sorta, but if you aspire to do bigger and better and more satisfying and broadening your audience, that's I think the name of the game and we love doing it. Before we break here, do you have anyone that you'd really admire right now who's out there that is just, I really would love to work with them?

Nancy Kirhoffer (45:25):

Well, I'm going to name-drop now. Go ahead. Because Ava DuVernay and I'm actually doing her new movie. I've been watching her stuff and I am such a huge fan of her and what she does in the industry and…

Kevin Goetz (45:36):

What a talented lady.

Nancy Kirhoffer (45:37):

She's amazing. And, but not just in movies, it's like everything she does. Right. I just got hired to do her movie that she's shooting right now and it is a dream.

Kevin Goetz (45:44):


Nancy Kirhoffer (45:45):

Yeah. It's pretty cool. She's an amazing filmmaker and just a person. And Alan Baumgarten is the editor who is one of my favorite people as well.

Kevin Goetz (45:52):

You're pretty amazing yourself, and I want to thank you so much for sitting with me today. It's kind of odd because we know each other so well, and I just feel like this is a really good opportunity for the listeners to get another perspective, another point of view of an area of the business that really can make or break a movie. And thank you, Nan. Thank you so much.

Nancy Kirhoffer (46:18):

Thank you for having me. What a treat to be here.

Kevin Goetz (46:19):

Nancy Kirhoffer, thanks. And to our listeners, I hope you enjoyed today's interview. Check out Nancy's recent work. Two of many of her projects are Kenya Barris projects--You People, which Kenya directed, and the remake of White Men Can't Jump  that he produced. For other stories like this one, please check out my book, Audienceology at Amazon or through my website at And you can also follow me on my social media at KevinGoetz360. Next time on Don't Kill the Messenger, I'll welcome producer and former president of MGM, Jon Glickman. And until next time, I'm Kevin Goetz, and to you, our listeners, I appreciate you being part of the movie-making process. Your opinions matter.

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Nancy Kirhoffer
Producer:  Kari Campano

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