What does an audience want?

I went to a talk by film maker Gaylene Preston today. It was great to see someone so passionate about what they do, despite the years of grind finding funding and an audience.

It was something she said about “the audience” which struck me; which made me sit down and write this post.

She said that an audience doesn’t go to a movie to hate it.

As I am lucky to be a part of a community of writers, I am used to giving people feedback on their work; and when others give up their time to give me feedback it is always appreciated (even if I am in tears at the end of it! Just kidding!).

The trouble is when giving feedback becomes second nature, every book, play or movie becomes fair game. My measure of a good book, play or movie is if it sweeps me away with the magic of it all, leaving me scratching my head thinking “how did they make me feel that” (because when all is said and done, I may oh and ah at special effects, but I’ll forget them a couple days later. But I’ll always remember if you make me cry. I still cannot listen to “Bright Eyes” without bawling a good 20 years later).

And if I’m counting your specials on the lighting rig, you’re in trouble!

But this simple idea was a revelation to me, that and audience is primarily there because they hope that they will like my book, play or film, that they will be transformed or at the very least amused for an hour; not because they are out to trip me up, find the holes, curse my name (well, maybe some of them).

It also made me think of the responsibility I have as a storyteller. That a person has bought tickets or a book means that they have taken a leap of faith in me. That, in a small way they believe in me, or at the very least, believe that I can entertain them for an hour; and although I know that I can’t please everyone ( and would drive myself mad trying) it’s important that I live up to my side of the pact.

I think it will be something I keep in mind for everything I write (hey! Maybe even these posts too!). If people are hoping for the best, then I better make sure that I’m giving them mine.

1 Comment

Filed under Musings, On being a Writer

One response to “What does an audience want?

  1. Just stumbled across this post… 3 years after it was written, but it’s still true and pertinent. It is incredibly freeing as a writer to invite the audience on a journey rather than try to drag them through it, knowing that they’re on your side.

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