This is a post that should speak to anyone that is in the field of creative arts. You want to engage your audience. whether it is writing, directing, stand-up comedy, being a social media influencer, painting, singing, song writing, or any other medium where you can influence a reaction from another person or crowd.
What does that mean to engage your audience?
Well, in film you want to have the people in the seats fully engrossed in the story line, writing, characters' arcs, and actor performances from the first frame until the last credit rolls. In music, you want your audience to dance or sing along, go home, download, and listen to your song on repeat. You want to make a lasting impression on society and reach people around the world. It’s what I feel like I was put on this earth to do, I’m a storyteller.
I may be wrong about this, but I think the first recorded story was around 700 BC, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and The Iliad by Homer.
This isn’t including visual cave paintings or the Egyptian hieroglyphic, but the first story to spread across the globe. These epic tales of adventures, heroes, and monsters are still relatable and seen on movie screens today.
How do I even know who the audience I want to engage with is?
For me, I try to write, produce, and make films for me. For people like me. Those who are adventurous, fun, kind, imaginative, empathetic, and full of love. I want to evoke deep thoughts and emotions in people. Whether its laughter, sadness, intrigue, and excitement. I’m a big fan of crying during movies. I love it! Not because I’m a big hairy badass and it looks funny, but because that’s what I want from an audience who sits and watches one of my films. I’m inspired! Have you ever had a shitty day, sat down, put on a movie, and all your issues washed away for 2 hours? That’s what I mean when I say “engage”.
Art has that ability to bring out the rawest of emotions in someone. Film is art. Music is art. Comedy is art. Writing is art. These are all different mediums with the power to heal and you’ll never convince me otherwise.
On a more grounded personal level, when I come up with a story, I immediately assess the complete task of making it into a film. This might be different for other people’s process, but I make films. I tried to write music once and I just didn’t know how or where to start. My mind isn’t wired to do that, and it often makes me a little jealous of the musically gifted. Fortunately for me, writing stories, characters, and dialog always came easy. Like music, you can call it a gift or talent, but from the outside looking in, I’ve spent over two decades honing my craft and I’m still not or will ever be an expert.
So, now I have a story and I need to figure out how I turn a hair brained idea into a motion picture film up on a big screen theatre. That rules out epic period pieces or alien invasion for the time being. Most indie film makers don’t have the budget for that. The smart move is investing in smaller character driven stories with comedy, drama, and horror.
Not saying that you can’t do a kick ass action flick on a phone for no budget, you can. For me, I like telling stories that the audience can relate to. I practice writing real world stories and characters so that when I do branch out to bigger projects, the aliens and period pieces, I will still have a strong understanding on how to make my characters and stories great.
So that’s how I engage my audience. Hope it was helpful!
1. Write what you know.
2. Tell stories you would want to read/watch.
3. The characters drive the story. Not the other way around.