When I ask someone: “Who is your movie for?” and they respond, “Everyone!” Houston, we have a problem. I have been teaching a class on independent filmmaking and distribution for over a year now. In that time, I have observed that filmmakers don’t know their audience.
Unless you are Paramount, Universal or Marvel films it is nearly impossible to make a movie for “Everyone.” If you want to be able to sell your movie, trust me when I tell you to make your movie for a specific audience. Understanding your audience’s demographic is vitally important. That’s why drop down categories like: Drama-Comedy-Horror-Thriller-Action-Adventure exist. Those categories get even more specific by identifying the age and gender of the audience you are speaking to.
As an independent filmmaker, understanding your audience is vitally important even before writing or acquiring a script. I have made a very purposeful decision to make female driven faith based films for three reasons.
- I am a women of faith, so I am the audience.
- I looked at the landscape of faith based films and saw a major lack in movies starring women.
- I also noticed women were not being portrayed positively or accurately.
I am determined and passionate to create stories that speak to women and young girls. I am excited to focus my energy on this genre and demographic.
Some may say the female driven faith based audience is a niche. That is fine with me because it is a BIG niche audience that actually doesn’t get many films geared towards them. This provides a big void that my films can fill. I know my audience and I am delivering on my promise to speak directly to them. When I enter a meeting I present the work I have already created along with scripts I am planning to make in the future and they all have a cohesive theme.
A couple of years ago a woman from Florida was sitting down with her husband to watch their evening movie. Night after night he had been the one to choose the film, but on this particular evening she asked if she could pick the movie. He agreed and she found my film Catching Faith while scrolling through Netflix. She clicked play and in the first ten minutes her husband fell asleep. She was frustrated at first but then got so caught up in the film she forgot he was snoring away beside her. When the movie was over she said she was so moved by the film she sat through the credits. Seeing the website link for the workbooks the ladies were doing in the film, she ran to her computer and downloaded the Elijah Project.
She stayed up all night completing the workbook from cover to cover. Contacting the author, my sister, she asked if she could translate the books into Spanish. She hoped to share the message with the women she ministered to in Cuba. This woman took the books to Cuba and they spread like wildfire throughout the communities. The books provided hope and encouragement to a nation. My sister traveled to Cuba less than a year later, where crowds of women came to hear her speak. It spread so widely that there are now over 500 Elijah Project ambassadors and counting. Soon after the Catching Faith team was invited to Cuba for a movie tour. I personally met men and women who’s lives were saved by the message in these books.
So as you see, I’m not concerned if the other gender doesn’t stay awake for my films. My movies are speaking to the audience they were made for. Not only are my movies successful, they are changing the world. When you venture into creating a movie, ask yourself: “Who is my target audience?” and then be sure to deliver a product that hits that demographic. For me, I will never underestimate the power of reaching one woman!