My sister-in-law, Sarah, runs a blog. Well, a number of blogs, really, but one in particular that's just hers. It's called bluegrass redhead and it chronicles the life of a young woman who got a law degree and moved to D.C. determined to change the world. Then she discovered that maybe what she really wanted to do was move back home to Paducah, Kentucky and change the world from there. It's a charming read, especially if you're into Southern barbecue, interior decorating, and the ever-evolving notions of how to properly parent your child. (Turns out "stranger danger" is something we've been getting wrong all these years.)
One of Sarah's trademarks is a Saturday morning email to her readers, which I've been getting for about a month. These emails were mostly what I expected: links to things Sarah likes, what she's up to this week, the best iPhone apps for moms.
Then, one morning, she offered her readers a "sneak peak" at something new she'd been working on.
(Forgive me, but I need to break into the Southern drawl for this next bit.)
Y'all, if you'd been in the room at that point, you would have heard this gritty, low-pitched grinding noise as my eyeballs rolled and scraped against the backs of their sockets.
As a writer and as someone who works with filmmakers constantly, the "sneak peak" is the bane of my existence. (And yes, I'm pretty much that guy – the one who points out things like this whether the recipient wants to hear it or not.)
If you're wondering what the fuss is about, the correct phrase is "sneak peek." You're not referring to a stealthy mountain (peak), you're offering a preview (peek).
Look, I get it. "Peek" is right next to "sneak" and it's easy to fall into the trap of making the words match visually because they rhyme. And it's not like a spell checker is going to catch that, since "peak" is a legitimate word.
Still, when I see this phrase (and I see it a lot), it makes me want to throw things.
Or, as in poor Sarah's case, pick up the phone and leave a condescending voicemail outlining the difference.
My point is, there are people out there like me who will judge you (and thereby pre-judge your film) based on things like this. Your cover letter, your synopsis, your press material – they all present points of first impression that you don't want to screw up. (Pssst ... I’ve written an entire ebook of tips on how to make the best first impression you can with festivals, and you can download it for free.)
While you reflect on that, be sure to drop in on Sarah's blog and let her know how sorry you are that her brother-in-law is such a stickler for the written word.
(Don't even get me started on the differences between "premiere" and "premier.")