Creating a successful film is a lot harder than it looks. You need to know everything about your audience, including their likes and dislikes, and how they react to different types of content.
Once moviegoers fall in love with your film, they'll tell their friends about it and spread the word on social media.
But if you don't understand how audiences respond to different styles of filmmaking, then your film will never reach its full potential.
In this post we'll look at what filmmakers need to understand about their audience in order for them to succeed (and why these things are relevant).
Audiences are more sophisticated than ever
If you're a filmmaker, your audience is everything. It's the reason you make movies in the first place, and it's the reason that you'll continue to make movies.
But audiences aren't just a vague group of people who happen to watch your movie. They're specific people who want something from it — and if you don't know what they want, then there's no way for you to give it to them.
Audiences are more sophisticated than ever. Sure, there are still plenty of people out there who can be entertained by anything, but most people have specific tastes and preferences (and they're not shy about sharing them). If you're making a comedy and your audience doesn't like slapstick, they're not going to get it — no matter how well-made or funny it is.
The best way to understand your audience is through research: asking questions and listening carefully to what people say.
This can be as simple as talking with friends or family members about their favorite movies and TV shows, or as complicated as surveying thousands of people across the country about their entertainment preferences.
In order to create great stories, we first have to understand our audience: who they are and what matters most to them.
Understanding your audience is essential to your film's survival
Before we get into the details of understanding your audience, let's take a look at what exactly the term "target audience" means.
A target audience is the group of people that you're trying to reach with your movie. It may be an age group (children), gender (men), ethnicity (African American) or even location (New York City).
You might think that there's no point in defining a target audience because it doesn't really matter who watches your film — as long as they watch it!
However, defining who will watch your film helps you create content that speaks directly to their needs and interests in order to get them more excited about the subject matter at hand and ultimately help them enjoy watching the movie more than they would without knowing which demographic it was made for.
It's also important that you know how and where they're going to watch it — on TV, online or at the theater — or if it’s a series, will episodes be released weekly, or will viewers be able to binge to their heart’s content.
A film's success is driven by the audience connecting to it and having an emotional reaction
A film's success is driven by the audience connecting to it and having an emotional reaction. This can be a positive, negative or any other emotional response. Whether they see themselves in a particular character, or simply empathizing with them will make all the difference to their engagement.
The most powerful films are those that elicit an emotional response from audiences that drives them to share the film with other people so they can experience it as well.
These films will also have more longevity than others because they're able to withstand the test of time.
Experiment with different marketing strategies for greater audience engagement
A good way to start is by asking yourself, "Do I have a clear idea of who my audience is?" The answer is likely yes, but it's important to make sure. Knowing who your audience is will help you decide which marketing strategy best suits them.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up. Try blending aspects of your film with IRL events, or encouraging fans to discuss their craziest fan theories.
Some artists find that they have more than one type of audience: a smaller group they would like to reach (such as people with similar interests) and then a larger group that doesn't need as much individual attention.
If this sounds like your situation, try experimenting with different strategies for each group.
For example, if your audience skews younger and are more internet-savvy, engaging them on platforms like Reddit with an AMA (Ask Me Anything) has proven to be an effective way to hear from them directly.
You can gather clear insight and feedback while creating a community and promoting your project.
Be bold, but also don't be afraid of feedback
Finding the right balance between your original idea and understanding how it resonates with people will be the key to a successful project.
While you need to listen to feedback and take it into consideration, there's a difference between listening and letting other people make the decisions for you.
If they try to tell you that the whole point of your film is wrong, or that everything needs to be changed because they've seen better films, trust yourself.
If they say that all female characters need more screen time (a common criticism), ask them why they think so and what would be better than what's in front of them right now? You may find that their suggestions are useful after all, but ultimately it's up to YOU who makes these choices about your film—not someone else!
We live in a time where audiences are more sophisticated than ever. They expect more from the movies they watch and how they're marketed to. As filmmakers, we need to understand our audience if we want to succeed.