Building Your Audience – Part #1

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Finding Your Audience

Writing your screenplay is certainly a lengthy process, and if you’re a DIY filmmaker it is just as likely you’ll also be the main force of the production, adding to the amount of time spent on the project. Fast forward nine months after starting and spending your first penny, you might just have a completed film in your hands. However, before you rush off and show it to the world, you need to know who you actually plan on showing it to. Not everyone wants to watch a film about the last days of an alien stuck in Texas. 

I’m hoping that you’re reading this before you have started production because audience identification is a constant process of discovery, from the pre-production stage right through to post. You don’t want to be in the position of having a completed film and not even know who you have made it for. That leads to viewless videos and disappointment.

Who do you target? You would think the larger the target area the better. John Carter of Mars thought that and ads were placed everywhere; gaming sites, film sites, toy sites, Facebook, Twitter. They tried to captivate as many people as they could, but the campaign was so generic that it didn’t find its core audience and the box-office performance was evidence of that. The thing is, there is rarely one audience for one film. An audience is commonly comprised of a number of different groups. The more groups you can specifically target the better. Commonly a lot of narrative filmmakers say their target audience are “Teenagers” or “Women in their 30s”.

This won’t cut it. You would need to be more specific; “Fans of mature comic books” “Fans of b-movie horror films from the 70’s. These are the niches you need to be after.

Who is your core audience?

When you know who your audience is, you will then be able to form your core audience. Core and niche audiences are often interpreted as the same thing, but there is a fine difference between the two. A niche audience is a group of people with a shared interest or liking. The core might be composed of people from several niche communities. Example, your projects niche audiences are fans of Two Broke Girls, The Big Bang Theory and New Girl, therefore your core audience will be fans of American sitcoms that revolve around young adults and their daily dilemmas. These are the audience members that are going to effortlessly follow your progress and be the most passionate people to promote your film.

Secondary and Tertiary Audiences

Once you have your niche and your core audience found, it is time to start finding the secondary and tertiary audiences.

Secondary audiences are individuals that have an interest in a topic related to your film.

Tertiary audiences are individuals that have an interest in a sub-element to the interest in the topic the secondary audiences have.


Another example; 8 Mile which is the film about the rapper Eminem and his youth life. The core audience are going to be fans of Hip-Hop, the niche audience will be Eminem fans. The Secondary audience will be fans of gang-related films and fans of music. The tertiary audience could be fans of poetry or fans of street culture.

It’s important to take the audience levels with a grain of salt, as many audience interests can be interchanged. Is there really that much difference between gang related films and street culture? The framework is followed as a guide rather than a strict law to adhere to.

Are you in the position to reach your core audience directly? If you can deliver rich exc content you’ll have them engaged all the way, but how do you reach the secondary and tertiary audiences? As you develop from your core audience, the process to reach the outer layers of your potential audiences will become increasingly difficult.

That is why it is important to identify your niche layers and consider how you might be able to access them, often it takes more resources to reach the secondary and tertiary layers of your audience. The more specific you can be, the more effectively you can utilize your resource.


Your core audience should affect how your film is distributed. Take “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” it performed poorly at the box office despite having high-profile actors and an esteemed director. How did it fail then? Well, its core audience are gamers, tech nerds, geeks & individuals who spend a lot of time online.


It is known that these niche audiences are prone to pirating films and software. If you’re targeting your film towards audiences who prefer the comfort of their computer screen and are commonly surrounded by instant downloads and streaming then it’s likely your film is going to be on the torrent charts.

By understanding what markets your audience’s uses to consume media, it will make your job easier to provide them with access to your content, which hopefully will result in greater success toward you goals.

In part #2 of our audience series we’ll look at how to effectively engage your audience through social networks.

About The Author

Lewis McGregor is an aspiring filmmaker, photographer and online content creator from Wales.