Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Eval Q4 Target Audience

Who would be the audience for your media product?
As with most of the Eval, you should be able to utilise material from earlier in your blog for this. There are various posts on this topic (eg your franchise research), and links lists, plus material on the romcom, horror and BritCinema blogs. Here's just a few you could benefit from revisiting: using forums; The Crazies + its marketing strategy; the 80s/retro boom; ElmSt/remakes; treatments; Being Human + using teen characters to appeal to teens; evidencing/assessing aud feedback thru vids; online views of your work; Polldaddy; online slasher sitcom Holliston; slasher franchise task; researching recent horror egs (+ presenting as vid); promo page for cheapo slashercasting + creativity; critics v pop culture; posters, DVD sleeve etc; IGS work screened at film fest; BoxOfficeMojo; ... [ALL egs FROM THIS BLOG ONLY; MANY MORE ON DBHORROR + BRITCINEMA BLOGS; UPDATED 8TH APRIL 2012]

MEGAN: The layout is not great, but what is clear is the amount of research; great variety of sources used to answer this question, and very detailed overall.
CHRIS: In contrast to the generally strong Eval answers he gave, this one is short and lacking real detail, but also highlights the potential to make some major mistakes on audience: as I state in the coursework guide, the lack of non-Caucasian characters does not rule out appeal to a non-Caucasian audience (as this still remains the norm in our unrepresentative cinema). Also, its unlikely you'd target only Yorkshire/'local' folk, BUT you would note the risk non-Southern accents pose to the commercial success.
BECKY: An interesting twist on the basic approach: take a typical 'core' aud member (incl. profile) + a secondary and use these as micro case studies to illustrate your macro points. Uses video of each responding to questions about the film opening, as well as providing visual stimulus material which was used to test aud knowledge.
ROAM: Did something similar to Becky, but much less impact in just typing in one teen's responses, and not including a non-core example to contrast. As with all 3, makes links to existing films - a really important thing to do here - with good detail to justify the choices made. 

The various Media industries depend on accurate assessment of their potential audiences to function and (in most cases) turn a profit. A film will be made with a target audience in mind, and almost always (real experimentation and carefree risk-taking is discouraged by the cost of film production) linked into recent successes. This is why we see so many sequels and clones of hit movies - superhero/comic book adaptations, for example, have been very commonplace over recent years.
The choices made in casting, scripting, locations, editing, music, FX etc will all be influenced by this sense of who the target audience is. Most producers will have a BBFC (or, in the US, MPAA) rating in mind as well which will influence the production.
You have to show here that you developed a clear, sharp sense of your target audience and can back this up as a realistic, suitable choice through some research you have undertaken. In addition to books and web research, videoed vox pops (discussed in an earlier post with egs from IGS blogs) are a useful tool.
I will discuss further means to answer this below, but the best answers will utilise analysis from books.

  1. Set out your target audience, remembering to distinguish core and secondary (see Treatments!)
  2. To get into this further, tackle each aspect you've listed - age, gender, sexuality, social class etc
  3. Take age: begin with the notional BBFC rating; detail why you'd have this (give egs of recent actual films and their ratings to back this up; quote from BBFC official guidelines); what have you excluded to fit within this?
  4. You can discuss the characters, and perhaps any humour used, to back this up. Overlapping with the prev Q, perhaps your representations in general were shaped by this target aud and what you perceived would work best for them?
  5. Perhaps you undertook (you still could, for this Q) active aud research? You went out with a camera, a few questions and 1 or more stimulus tools (eg 4 pics on a page: can you name the film; themes on your mobile: can you name...). There are good examples of this in a post on this blog. [Here's an A2 eg] You may even have vox popped some older folk who were unfamiliar with the pics, and who responded negatively to other Qs - helping to reinforce the view that a teen/youth aud is the correct core aud to target.
  6. Perhaps you've been reading the weekly analysis of the box office returns on the Film Guardian site, which always features very, very useful pointers on audiences?
  7. You've all got some aud feedback which should help show how your text has been tweaked and shaped to fit your target aud
  8. Demonstrate that there is an aud for this genre: some relevant egs of box office returns would help here (you do need at least one UK film as well as any US ones from your genre!)
  9. A major issue we explore with the exam work on British Cinema is how the biggest UK film producer, Working Title, invariably shapes its films to appeal to a US as well as UK audience ... while an Indie like Warp generally doesn't. Have you included stereotypes of 'The North' or of Yorkshire which would be widely recognised? (I'll assume you haven't included a Hollywood star, as many successful 'British' films do!) You could also consider the national, UK audience: will, for example, a Southern English audience understand the dialogue, or struggle with the accents/dialect? Perhaps your core aud is a regional one? Do accents/representations pose a problem, a limiting factor, in your potential audience? Think about the fate of Mickybo & Me compared to Son of Rambow ... Given that the female leads are cast as Leeds girls, Donkey Punch is an interesting case. Maybe this would be sufficiently low budget (Indie?) production (benefitting from the cost-reducing impact of digitisation...) to enable a gamble on regional accents?
  10. As the media mainly stick to certain representations, 'minority' audiences may not have a great deal of choice when it comes to selecting mainstream media texts to consume; don't bluntly assume that as your text does not include a gay couple it has no interest to a homosexual audience. See cwk guide for more pointers on this
  11. Consider gender carefully: would you really give up on 50% of a potential aud? Rom-coms are a hybrid for a reason; horror films generally feature a strong female character (as well as passive, objectified female 'eye candy' - the male gaze theory) for a reason. Its not a problem to say your core aud is M or F, but can you identify means by which you've tried to reach out to a secondary aud from the other gender? Note we are often referring to stereotypical values: girls like romance, boys don't; girls cringe at gore, boys relish it. Many slashers include a romantic sub-plot: consider Scream
  12. Back to the first point: in what ways have you potentially appealed to an older secondary audience? Intertextuality perhaps?
  13. Can you quote from any books/articles about a typical slasher/horror audience? Perhaps you could use a snippet from Blood Money, which you received a few photocopied pages from?!


Consider core and secondary audiences.
AGE: 15-24? 15-34? Your lower starting point will be influenced by the notional BBFC rating you ascribe to your work (also compare to similar films) – the BBFC’s website has some very student-friendly features to help you with this. You could reference your work from General Studies of course! There is also a double-DVD-ROM set in the library produced by the BBFC. You may argue your film potentially appeals to younger viewers, increasingly able to circumvent these age restrictions through downloads for example, and motivated to do so by aspiring to be like their older peers (eg tweenagers). Are your cast reflective of your target audience age? Do you employ any slang, music or other cultural references which might be primarily familiar to a youth audience?

How important is the youth audience to the film industry? (You should be able to find articles which demonstrate that cinemas target your age group more than any other)

ETHNICITY: If your product does include non-Caucasian characters, this will help reinforce its appeal to a multi-ethnic audience. However, you should not argue your text specifically targets a narrow Caucasian audience, many mainstream productions continuing to sideline non-Caucasian talent but not commercially suffering for this. As always, think of real-world examples here, especially if you are restricted to an entirely Caucasian cast.

There is an interesting flipside to this: a range of low-budget, straight-to-DVD films principally targeted at an African-American audience (especially within the horror and crime/gangster genres) produced by and starring the likes of Snoop Dogg. The impact of Asian horror over the past decade (eg The Ring), not just through the remakes, might be something to consider.

GENDER: many genres are seen as gendered: sci-fi, action-adventure and horror as primarily male-oriented, period dramas and rom-coms as female, for example. This is true up to a point – film producers don’t want to exclude half the available audience! The tough, resourceful female character (‘final girl’) at the centre of many horrors (and sci-fi/horror: Alien’s Ripley) helps to draw in a female audience notwithstanding the crude, exploitative stereotyping of the invariably topless ‘scream queens’. The comedy aspect of rom-coms helps males to overcome their reticence – and in both cases, especially for a youth audience, the movie-as-date factor cannot be overlooked! Do make some explicit consideration of how you have chosen to represent gender here. You might want to consider the male gaze theory here.

Can you use any examples from the work on the AS exam here?

SOCIO-ECONOMIC GROUPINGS: In crude class terms, ABs are ‘upper class’, C1 upper-middle class, C2 lower-middle class, and DE working-class (see handout for more precise detail). Typically, a complex, challenging text, perhaps relying more on dialogue than action, might be pitched to some part of an ABC1 audience (as are broadsheet newspapers like The Guardian), while a conventional slasher, often with middle-class characters, might target a C2DE audience (somewhat in line with a tabloid like The S*n). If you are employing countertypes within a horror you might argue this would help to draw in the C1s.

Some horror films, especially when not centred on teens, gain sufficient critical credibility to draw in that sophisticated ABC1 audience – think of Silence of the Lambs. Plush period dramas typically appeal to ABC1s (the BBC has attracted criticism for super-serving this audience with its high-budget adaptations of the classics), while the typically more basic fare of rom-coms are generally pitched to a less wealthy audience. Again, it is worth commenting on the class profile of your characters.

NATIONALITY/REGION: Whilst producers will not wish to restrict their potential audience to a particular part of the UK, nonetheless the southern English accent and setting retains something of a hegemonic status. Films featuring northern English, Midlands, Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish accents do face a greater challenge at the box office – although the huge success of Billy Elliot, The Full Monty and others proves this barrier is not insurmountable. This aspect may influence the company you identify as distributor (look at distributors for Warp, WT, & Film4 productions as examples), but again you should stress you’d hope to tap into a UK-wide audience, whilst perhaps recognising the potential limitations on foreign sales.

The contrasting fortunes of the similarly-budgeted films Son of Rambow and Mickybo & Me [a WT film] – both now in the library – illustrate the commercial advantages of featuring southern English characters, while This is England is more typical of the fate of social realist movies than hits like TFMonty. Once again: address representation – are you stereotyping yourselves?! Using recognisable regional stereotypes could help a film’s prospects beyond the area it reflects.

FANS OF… Perhaps linking back to your pitch, what existing films would you expect your potential audience to be fans of? If you were designing a promotional poster which film/s might you try and reference to help communicate the idea, but also to derive reflected glory/appeal from?

SEXUALITY: Just as a typical film will still centre on Caucasian characters, so will heterosexuality be the default mode for any romantic aspects. Again, do not say you are targeting a heterosexual audience, but simply consider if you’re including anything which could help to draw in the ‘pink pound’ – being careful about stereotyping! Its not uncommon to see token, heavily stereotyped, gay characters, notably the usually very camp gay best friend in many rom-coms.

PSYCHOGRAPHIC PROFILE: You could also describe a typical would-be punter in terms of wider lifestyle and interests (e.g. a lager-drinking Sky Sports subscriber, S*n-reading Guy Ritchie fan, or a Sky Arts-subscribing, Guardian-reading liberal interested in classic literature and history) – and if you really want to challenge yourself, do a little research on ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ (there is a fairly good Wiki on this). You could also look at the box-office performance of recent films comparable to your own in terms of genre/narrative.

TYPICAL AUDIENCES FOR THIS GENRE: Research audiences for your genre. If you can find articles exploring aspects such as age range, typical gender etc, great – but at the very least have a look into the institutional side of this: box office figures especially. Is yours a currently successful/popular genre?

You could try some kind of opinion poll or questionnaire (you could use a blogger gadget for this) to test out whether your supposed target audience is accurate.

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