Five Ways to Capture Your Audience


AlexisAs a young filmmaker, I have been observing quite a bit: movies, television shows, and documentaries. The way I see it, there is literally never a point in a filmmaker’s life where they can stop learning. Every piece of work created by another individual can be a lesson for a filmmaker. Every movie can be a new insight to story line, character development, and even a new sense of dialogue.

I have taken these five tips from my “Alexis McDonough’s GREAT Ideas: Favorite Quotes and Film Wisdom” journal and have decided to share them with you all. Now mind you, these are thoughts from a 19 year-old filmmaker, still paving her way to her career, point of view. So bear with me on what I believe to be original “wisdom.”

  • The key is to create, not necessarily strong, but REAL characters. This is what really connects with the audience. Notice how I said with and not to. When the audience can relate with the character on a personal level, this allows room for inspiration. If a member of your audience sees traits of him or herself in your character, they can then latch onto that character. Once latched on, throughout the story as the audience member sees the character become stronger and overcome adversity, this is when that audience member is INSPIRED. The audience no longer sees themselves as average, they see themselves as being able to do more and achieve more because they saw a character just like them do exactly that in your movie. REAL and RELATABLE characters INSPIRE audiences.
  • Actors are the primary story conveyers. Contrary to popular belief, the way the audience is going to hear any sort of dialect is through the actor. It is important to leave great focus toward putting an actor in a place on set where he or she can perform best. This is a delicate process that needs to be cradled in order for the expression of the film to be at it’s best. Actors are going to feed that raw emotion intended by the writers and directors straight into the hungry stomachs of the audience. Editing, music, script are all assets to the actor’s overall performance. At the end of the day, the audience is truly captured by relating to the character. The character is… you guessed it…. played by the actor.
  • Find the emotion in people that they wish to be invoked most, and yank it out of them. There is a central theme to human existence that almost every storyline has covered: the pursuit of happiness. In fact, there is a film named after that very pursuit. Every human is in search of happiness, no matter how they achieve it. If we, as filmmakers, can invoke that emotion that people consistently desire, we’ve hooked’em. When they leave your film, the audience’s emotional gas tank should be on E.
  • “Once the audience recognizes the genre of the movie, they form specific expectations about what kinds of things they will – and will not – experience.” Because film as an art is becoming older by the decade, a lot of storylines are predictable and overused. If you can think out of the box, plot twists, creative story lines, twist and turns, the audience is yours. “Good movie directors are always balancing the old, familiar, and stable with the new, creative, and dynamic.”
  • Making the audience feel like they’re going through the experience with the main character is what’s known as shooting vérité. Cinema vérité combines improvisation with the use of the camera to unveil the truth or highlight subjects hidden behind crude reality; it helps to uncover cinematic truth. Again, referring back to number one, connecting with your audience on an authentic, real, and relatable level is what is going to have them invested in your films.

So there you have it, five ways to capture your audience. Original wisdom brought to you by your favorite young, aspiring, female filmmaker (well, you know, I hope I’m your favorite).