How to uncover the proper target audience for your film

Red Rock Entertainment Ltd
5 min readDec 12, 2018

Target audiences are always for a particular niche — a group of people with specific interests and of a defined age, gender, interests, etc. Yes, there are cases when films don’t fall into one targeted niche (and it happens more frequently than one could have imagined), yet genuinely wide appeal in the film industry is an extremely rare almost extinct cases.

To put it into examples: Star Wars is a great example of the encompassing target audience since young and old wait in the endless lines to get tickets for the new episode. Their audience contains people from all continents, of all genders, and of all ages. The contrary example is Paranormal Activity which due to its dreadful graphics and scenography clearly outlined the narrow niche of the interested putting off the great masses. However, in both cases the box-office takings and the world-wide fame of these films is unarguable.

Both examples are the perfect targeting of the potential audience. Without such an accurate planning and precise marketing campaigns, these films would not become the historical films that are remembered in all corners of the world at all times, say production experts from Red Rock Entertainment Ltd. So what are the secrets of targeting the right audience? And how to uncover the veil of this matter?

Who is your target audience?

There are two most important ideas about the target audience:

a) “Everybody” is not the definition of a target audience. Never. Ever.
b) Fellow filmmakers are not your target audience. They don’t bring profits.

Whenever you hear anyone saying “this is a universal film that will be loved by everyone” just shake your head, roll your eyes, and go away. This is not the wisdom to rely on. Why not? Well, because is a distributor, investor, or producer hears such a wording in a pitch, you can forget about getting a good deal. In fact, forget about getting any deal at all.

While it’s sometimes important to follow the example of other filmmakers and try to make them love your job, remember that they are NOT your target audience. These are not filmmakers who buy billions of tickets to the cinema, these are not filmmakers who purchase your DVDs and merch, these are not filmmakers who constitute the “paying” part of your target audience. So if you know that a particular colleague won’t like your work but the audience will love it and sweep off the tickets from the box offices, then think carefully what is more important to you.

Defining your target audience

  • First things first

Ask yourself (but please do it honestly): what makes your film unique? Why your project is worth watching over the hundreds of similar works? Unless you can answer these questions, you are doomed to fail. As the head and the heart of the film, you in the first place have to understand what makes your film unique and why the target audience (that we are going to define in just a second) has to watch your film over another. For instance, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had Jim Carrey playing a serious dramatic role which was an unusual line of acting for him in 2004; the Desert Flower tells a true success story about a girl who escapes from Somalia and turns to be a supermodel. Think what it is your film is about?

  • Refine the concept

Once you know the main idea of the film, its concept must be identified for the upcoming purposes. Let’s take Tell Tale Heart produced by Red Rock Entertainment. It’s a story based on the classic novel by Edgar Allan Poe about a meticulously planned murder of a vulture-eyed man committed by the narrator. Such a film automatically relates to those loving crime and murder stories as well as the fans of the great master — Edgar Poe. Once you refine your film’s concept — the area of interests that it encompasses, the further steps will go easier.

  • Conduct a search
    Now it’s time to understand where people interested in your film are. Check printed magazines and newspapers, visit online blogs and forums, simply google places which unite people who might be interested in your film. Once you create a list of such publications and online resources, contact their managers are asking for the demographic information regarding their readers. Most editors will be happy to give you this kind of information. This point will give you the age, gender, and other basic demographic data. Such demographics is the foundation of your target audience.

If budget allows, it’s also beneficial to work on the psychographic research to understand your potential target audience better. It will allow you to look at not only purely social classifications but also at more broad psychological factors such as personalities, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle.

  • Test and refine

Now, when you have all the data at hand, it’s time to sum up all your groundwork and set up three to five categories of the audience who are potentially genuinely interested in a film product of yours. Once ready, test your data. Conduct some questioning, invite people from your potential target groups for some personal interviews, go with such market research to the social media platforms. Only after careful testing, you will know who and why is interested in your new film. Frequently, such testing will also eliminate particular parts of your initial research and so will help you refine the ultimate target audience.

The final wisdom

  • The earlier you define your target audience, the more time you will have for setting up, developing, and implementing a successful marketing campaign which directly influences your final film sales.
  • Once the film is released, the contacts you collected from the printed and online sources can be great platforms for spreading the word of mouth about your project.

The target audience in the filmmaking is the foundation of everything: from the film script to distribution, from the cast selection to the sales channels. Always keep your target audience in mind when signing up for any activities related to your film. This is the only way to make a film successful!

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Red Rock Entertainment Ltd

Red Rock Entertainment Ltd is a film investment company based in London and headed by Gary Collins.