How to Mine Your Audience for Gold

by Carole Dean


“Who is your audience?”

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 do not answer this important question.

Who is Your Audience

Do you know your audience?

Some say my audience is “everyone” which I encourage you not to do.  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 with your audience?  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, then how do I find my audience for my upcoming project?  Start by knowing more about your present audience.  These are fans of your other projects (hopefully you’ve got their names and emails or kept in touch with them on social media)

On a recent episode of my podcast The Art of Film Funding, Erica Anderson of Seed & Spark suggested to “get the names of 10 or more of your current fans and ask them questions.”  Mine your audience.

You want people in your database from different walks of life, who are not filmmakers, and who love the subject of your upcoming film.

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 you follow?
  • What organizations do you belong to?
  • How do you spend your free time?
  • When you watch movies, how do you watch them?
  • Do you go to the theatre?
  • Do you primarily stream movies to your TV from some device?
  • Do you watch movies only on your laptop or your mobile phone?

With the answers to these questions, you begin to understand where you will reach others 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 get a sense of how they pay attention to things.

Erica said “a headline from New York Times for instance is very different than a headline from BuzzFeed.” Now you have a better way to communicate with your potential audience.

Knowing what organizations they belong to gives you an idea of what organizations you can join.  You can begin to chat about your film because the content of this organization should be concerned about the same issues.

This same info can give you names of nonprofits to contact for strategic alliances if you are making a documentary and possibly for a feature.

Erica also says that “The last piece really is where does your audience see their movies? If it’s primarily on their laptop, that could change the way you are going to shoot the film, that could change the camera you choose, and how big your production value needs to be.  So, it can ultimately change the budget of your film.”

This mining effort can pay off with valuable information, donations, or investments.  Now you know what to put under audience on your grants and now you know what to do for marketing your film, tweeting it and how to write your posts on social media.

You are talking to your audience, so give them a name. I want you to know them like a character in a film.


Carole Dean is the president and founder of From the Heart Productions and author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  Her Intentional Filmmaking Class teaches filmmakers how to get their films funded.  New classes begin in September.  Discount for early enrollment.  


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