Who is Your Audience?

by Carole Dean

Who is your audience for your film? It’s a common question that we ask of independent filmmakers submitting their documentary, feature, or short film to the Roy W. Dean Film Grant. 

We find that 80% of our applications cannot correctly answer this important question. 

Who is your audience? Don’t say “everyone”!

What Do You Say When Asked to Describe Your Audience?

Some who submit to the grant say “my audience is ‘everyone’” (which I encourage you not to do).  Grant judges will drop your proposal like a hot potato!

Some say “men and women from 18 to 48.”  That’s too broad.  We want to know everything possible about this audience.  If you had a description for your typical audience member like a “soccer mom in Indiana”, we would love it.

Why should you get so up-close-and-personal and know who is your audience and know as much as you can about them?  Your money for your film is now in their hands.  You will need to get dollars from them for research, for production, and again for post.   Plus, they will pay to download your film and probably help you put people in seats for theatrical on demand.

Ok, Carole, How Do I Find My Audience for My Upcoming Project 

Start by getting to know your present audience.  That is people in your database from different walks of life, who are not filmmakers, and who love the subject of your upcoming film.  Be sure it’s not family or close friends, you want information from people you don’t know.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What social media platforms do you hang-out on?
  • Where do you engage with people online?
  • What kind of news do you pay attention to?
  • What kind of music do you listen to?
  • What blogs do you follow?
  • What organizations do you belong to?

Knowing what organizations they belong to gives you an idea of what organizations you can join and you can begin to chat about your film online to expand your data base of names.

  • How do you spend your free time?
  • When you watch movies, how do you watch them? Do you go to the theatre?  Do you watch movies only on your laptop or your mobile phone?

How they watch movies may mean you don’t need that expensive camera and you can reduce your budget.

With the answers to these questions, you begin to understand where you can reach other people for your new audience.

Now you know where they hang-out online, how to speak to them based on what news they read, and what blogs they pay attention to.  You have a sense of how they pay attention to things.  A headline from New York Times for instance is very different than a headline from BuzzFeed.  Now, you have a better understanding of how to communicate with your potential audience.

Use this information to know where and how to find your audience.

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film production. She is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.