I enjoyed reading David Mamet's ornery pearls of wisdom about the movie business.
He describes the idiocy of focus groups and audience research in the most coherent terms.
What I've always thought, that whoever invented focus groups reserves his or her own circle in Hell and that this circle should include the worst possible punishments, he seconds but in a clearly thought out argument. Basically he says that the audience for audience research, instead of abandoning themselves to the joy of viewing a movie, like any regular moviegoer, become judges and wield some power because they have been asked to opine.
It is a well known fact, established by actual university research, that the only purpose that focus groups serve is for executives to cover their own asses. There is no other reason. Nobody wants to take a risk or live with the responsibility of making decisions: hence the focus group.
I also agree with Mamet that consensus, that terrible, faux-democratic habit of the corporation, is the death of creativity. He says consensus is the foundation of society, but the death of art. It's true.
I was surprised to find that he is a fervent movie lover and has seen many interesting movies that I now would like to check out. And I agree with his absolute hatred of sentimentality. He also gives some good practical advice for writing, cutting and shooting a film. I wish I had read it before I set out...