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    Audience pete buckingham   what people go to see Audience pete buckingham what people go to see Presentation Transcript

    • Audiences:  Trends,  Profiles  and  Patterns:    What  People  Go  to  See,  Why  and  How  to  Reach  Them    Pete  Buckingham,  Head  of  Distribution  and  Exhibition,  UK  Film  Council        In  March  2010,  iFeatures  was  delighted  to  have  Pete  Buckingham  of  the  UK  Film  Council  along  to  one  our  iFeatures  Twelve  workshop  days.  The  following  is  an  edited  transcript  of  that  session:    In  my  experience,  this  is  not  something  that  is  usually  taught  to  people  who  either  write,  produce  or  direct  films.  As  a  result  it  sometimes  seems  a  complete  mystery  as  to  why  financers,  distributors,  TV  companies  etc  are  not  that  interested  in  your  particular  film  or  project.  What  we’re  going  to  try  to  do  here  is  to  uncover  some  of  the  unconscious  or  conscious  rules,  if  you  like,  that  are  being  played  out  in  the  marketplace  on  behalf  of  audiences.    What  we’re  going  to  take  a  look  at  here  is  the  UK’s  cinema-­‐going  audience:    Young.  15-­‐24s  represent  32%  of  the  population,  but  40%  of  cinema  audience.  By  contrast  55+s  represent  34%  of  the  population,  but  only  20%  of  the  cinema  audience.  35-­‐44s  who  make  up  38%  of  cinema  audience  represent    35%  of  the  population.    Upmarket.  ABC1s  represent  49%  of  the  population,  but  60%  of  the  cinema  audience  which  increases  up  to  66%  amongst  heavy  cinema  goers.  Rule  of  thumb;  the  older  the  audience,  the  more  upmarket.    Frequency.  15-­‐34’s  form  60%  of  heavy  cinema  goers  and  within  that  40%  are  from  the  15-­‐24  group.  Medium  cinema  goers  are  50%  of  25-­‐44’s.  The  55  plus  make  up  32%  of  the  light  cinema  goers.    These  figures  don’t  cover  the  international  market,  although  there’s  evidence  many  of  these  markets  operate  in  the  same  way,  apart  from  France  which  is  a  special  issue.  You  can  see  this  is  a  young  and  upmarket  audience,  surprisingly  enough.  Within  the  film  industry  there  is  a  degree  of  snobbishness  towards  the  so-­‐called  multiplex  audiences  –  I  sincerely  hope  you’re  not  part  of  that  snobbishness  –  and  therefore  there  is  a  feeling  that  the  multiplex  audiences  are  comparatively  down-­‐market,  which  isn’t  the  case.           1        
    •    What  Does  a  Cinema  Audience  Look  Like?    Well  in  marketing  terms  we  can  cluster  them,  which  is  an  extremely  useful  thing:                   HERO  SEEKER:   IMPULSIVE   FILM  FANATICS:   IMPRESSIONABLE   MODERN  PARENTS:   FUN  LOVERS:  Not   YOUTH  OF  TODAY:  See   Don’t  go  out  much,   MATERIALIST:   Male,  Pre-­‐plan   SOCIALITES:   Kids  pressurising  the   film  literate.  Big  film   films  as  soon  as  they   place  well  in  advance   Fashion  victim,   their  trip,  25-­‐44,  go   Male/Female.  Under   parents.   and  video  consumers   come  out   affluent,  film-­‐ in  2s,  review-­‐led.   25.  Like   dinner-­‐drinks.   blockbusters.  Led  by   Word  of  mouth  is   ads.   key.    This  is  a  very  common  way  of  interpreting  what  an  audience  looks  like,  and  a  way  of  understanding  how  we  can  talk  to  them  and  what  they  are  like.    The  problem  is  that  when  you’re  in  a  creative  process  -­‐  from  the  writer’s  or  director’s  or  producer’s  side  of  the  fence  -­‐  that’s  not  really  much  help  to  you.    It’s  not  much  help  to  you  to  say,  “Well,  is  my  film  a  hero  seeker  film  or  a  youth  of  today  film?”    These  clusters  aren’t  giving  you  enough  information.      When  I  was  at  Film4,  when  we  were  facing  the  issues  around  ‘what  kind  of  films  should  we  make’  and  ‘why  are  films  working  and  not  working’,  we  set  out  to  look  at  two  things:      How  do  audiences  really  behave  and  why?    Are  there  any  possible  tools  to  help  filmmakers  and  distributors  in  assessing  the  viability  of  the  project?   2        
    •  This  research  was  done  in  2001  but  has  since  been  backed  up  by  an  equally  large  piece  of  research  at  the  Film  Council.  It  is  actually  still  as  valid  now  as  it  was  then.    We  did  qualitative  research  –  talking  to  people.  We  spoke  to  some  film  buffs  and  very  mainstream  types,  but  mainly  to  general  film-­‐goers,  people  who  enjoy  a  wide  variety  of  films  but  don’t  tend  to  seek  out  arthouse  or  European  films.      We  asked:  What  activities  are  more  important  to  you  than  film?    Men:  Music,  Drinking,  Sport,  Socialising,  TV.    Women:  Music,  Socialising,  Shopping,  TV.  Younger  people:  Music,  TV,  Socialising,  Computer  Games,  Shopping    There’s  one  big  note  here  and  that’s  music.  Music  is  a  really  common  denominator  right  across  age  and  sex  but  interestingly  music  and  film  are  not  aligned  very  strongly.    We  have  a  very  strong  music  culture  in  this  country,  and  yet  the  film  and  music  industry  do  not  align  themselves  very  easily.  Actually  most  famous  films  usually  tend  to  have  a  soundtrack  attached  to  them  that  you  can  remember  –  that’s  not  a  PR  thing,  it’s  because  they’re  working  in  symbiosis  together.    I  urge  you  to  think  about  music  much  more  centrally,  the  music  is  important.      Next:  What  is  it  that  film  represents  for  people?    For  the  vast  majority  of  people,  except  for  film  buffs,  it  is  satisfying  peoples’  unfulfilled  desires.  This  is  what  film  gives  us.  This  is  what  it  is.    It  is  entertainment.  It  is  all  the  things  that  people  do  not  get  from  work.  In  another  MORI  poll,  people  said  that  these  were  things  that  people  don’t  get  from  work,  but  that  they  look  for  in  film  (in  no  particular  order):    Excitement   Ambition   Innovation  Exhilaration   People  to  Admire   Style  and  Glamour  Power   Creativity   The  Surprising  Fun   Imagination   The  Unexpected    These  are  power  words,  these  are  really  strong,  emotional  words  that  need  to  be  borne  in  mind.    If  we  understand  that  people  go  to  the  cinema  to  fulfil  unfulfilled  desires,  and  to  be  entertained,  we  need  to  look  at  how  people  choose  what  they’re  going  to  see.  UKFC  did  a  huge  piece  of  research  on  behalf  of  the  whole  industry  on  this  and  the  biggest  thing  that  came  out  is  that  cinema  is  an  event.    And  since  people  tend  to  go  to  the  cinema  with  at  least  one  other  person  (unless  you’re  a  film  buff),  choosing  what  you’re  going  to  see  means  you  have  to  negotiate.  We  found  that  audience  choices  are  governed  by  the  following:     What  partner  /  friends  want  to  see.  Often,  the  choice  of  film  is  a  compromise.  However,  people  still  want  to  feel  the  film  they  will  see  will  give  them  a  peak   experience  i.e.  they  will  leave  the  cinema  on  a  high.   3        
    •     No  one  wants  to  be  blamed  for  choosing  a  ‘bad’  film.    Apart  from  the  emotional  reasons  attached  to  seeing  a  ‘bad’  film,  it  can  also  feel  like  a  waste  of  money.   In  a  group  of  friends  those  films  that  polarise,  are  unlikely  to  be  seen  -­‐  even  if  a  large  minority  like  them.  So,  inclusive  blockbusters  will  always  win  out.   People  do  not  like  seeing  films  on  their  own  and  £7  is  felt  to  be  a  significant  amount  of  money  especially  when  the  group’s  entrance  fees  are  totalled  up  together    There  is  a  currency  going  on  here  about  yourself,  in  other  words,  ‘Who  am  I?’,  ‘Am  I  able  to  pick  the  right  film?’,  ‘Can  I  be  a  trusted  person  with  my  group  of  friends?’  and  so  on.  You  don’t  want  to  choose  the  ‘bad  film’,  and  we  all  know  it’s  quite  uncomfortable  sitting  beside  somebody  who  is  not  enjoying  the  film  as  much  as  you  are,  unlike  a  DVD  which  you  can  just  switch  off.    There’s  a  desire  to  have  a  shared  experience.      Given  people’s  desire  not  to  make  a  mistake,  and  also  in  order  to  make  a  quick  and  effortless  decision,  they  look  for  clear  signals  the  film  really  is  one  they  will  like:     DRIVERS   BARRIERS   Genre  I  like   Genre  I  don’t  like  or  genre  not  clear   Actors  I  like  /  top  names  (who  are  well  cast)   No  big  names  and  actors  I  do  not  like,  never  heard  of  them   Producers  I  like:  Tarantino,  Spielberg  &  Scorsese   “Same  few  actors”  i.e  too  predictable/samey   Well  known  book   Don’t  know  the  story   Everyone’s  talking  about  it  i.e.  friends,  critics  and  media   No  one  is  talking  about  /  heard  of  the  film   Good  and  obvious  hook   No  obvious  hooks  or  surprising  twist   Surprising  twist   (Soundtrack)    What  kind  of  information  does  an  audience  use  to  choose  a  film?  See  the  above  list  –  obviously  one  of  the  first  things  is  genre,  i.e.  what  kind  of  film  is  it?    Here  we  go  back  to  the  clustering  principle,  which  is  that  clustering  is  so  useful  to  quickly  define  what  kind  of  film  this  is.    This  is  a  very  quick  shortcut.  “Oh,  I  don’t  like  this  kind  of  film”  or  “I  do  like  this  kind  of  film”.    Then  there  are  some  other  clues  as  well:  maybe  who’s  in  it,  it  might  be  who’s  directing,  it  might  be  that  it’s  from  a  book  of  some  sort  of  incident  or  known  source.    Then  there’s  word  of  mouth  -­‐  who’s  talking  about  it,  what  the  critics  thought  or  whatever  it  is,  etc.  There  are  quite  a  lot  of  pieces  of  information,  not  all  of  which  people  will  have.  You  might  not  have  read  the  reviews,  you  might  not  know  anything  about  it,  or  you  might  not  know  the  actors  or  they’re  not  important  enough  for  you,  and  so  on.            /cont’d.........     4        
    •        GENRE    It’s  probably  best  to  note  here  that  we  didn’t  do  ‘Family’  during  our  research,  we  only  did  ’18  Up’.  With  that  proviso,  the  following  are  the  major  genres  that  people  use  in  real  life  –  not  in  the  industry,  in  real  life:    Although  people  generated  a  whole  variety  of  types  of  films/genres  in  the  sessions  (eg  animation)  the  main  categories  were:     FEMALE                                                                                  Romance                        Period                        Crime/Gangster                        Horror                        Action                  SciFi                                                 MALE                 COMEDY      As  I  mentioned,  these  are  the  ‘describers’  that  normal  people  use  when  they’re  talking  to  each  other.  Obviously  you  can  see  on  the  left  hand  side  women  are  more  geared  towards  romance  and  the  males,  obviously,  geared  towards  Sci-­‐Fi.  The  unifying  factor  between  the  male/female  divide  is  comedy.  So,  a  Rom-­‐Com  will  get  a  bloke  in  whereas  with  a  romantic  film  on  its  own,  you  have  very  little  chance  of  doing  that.    In  order  to  have  maximum  appeal  films  need  to  appeal  to  men  and  women  –  even  if    they’re  paying  attention  to  different  aspects.        Now  what  genre  is  missing  here?  I’ll  tell  you:  DRAMA.      Here  we  stumble  across  one  of  the  first  problems  of  British  Film  Industry.  Statistically,  60%  of  all  films  made  are  actually  drama.  But  no-­‐one  ever  says,  “Let’s  go  and  see  this  great  drama”  -­‐  it’s  not  said.    We  say  ‘Crime’  or  ‘Gangster’  or  ‘Horror’  or  ‘Thriller’  or  ‘Sci-­‐fi’,  because  we  get  that.  That’s  why  genre  is  important  –  not  because  film  people  think  it  is,  but  because  it  helps  people  to  describe  what  they  do  and  don’t  like.      AMERICAN  V  BRITISH  FILMS    Whenever  the  audience  was  asked  what  films  they  preferred  –  British  or  American,  the  latter  was  nearly  always  selected  (although  in  their  hearts  they  wanted  to  pick  British).  Specifically  American  films  are  positively  associated  with:  Epic;  Excellent,  Exciting,  Exhilirating;  Glamour  and  Style;  Escapism  and  Fantasy;  Heroic;  Romantic.    Most  recognise  that  American  films  have  more  resources  to  deliver  what  the  audience  want  from  a  film.  Also,  American  films  have  helped  define  expections  of  what  a  ‘good’  film  is,  ie  high  in  emotion,  visual  and  entertaining  (contrasting  with  UK  films  which  are  felt  to  be  from  a  more  literary,  cerebral,  issues-­‐led  tradition).       5        
    •  However,  there  are  perceived  negatives,  and  I  have  a  funny  feeling  the  divide  may  be  widening  slightly  between  America  and  the  rest  of  the  world’s  films.    People  see  them  as:  moralistic,  unrealistic,  schmaltzy,  patriotic,  squeaky  clean.  We  don’t  like  these  kinds  of  things  too  much  in  Europe.  My  favourite  example  is  the  very,  very  last  scene  in  ‘Saving  Private  Ryan’  where  the  guy  gets  hold  of  an  American  flag.  That’s  exactly  where  the  divide  lies.      What  are  the  positives  of  British  Films?      Characters  and  Situations  I  can  identify  with  Either  fresh  new  acting  talent  or  really  great  actors  eg  Judi  Dench  ‘British  humour  is  something  no-­‐one  else  can  do’.  Authentic  and  believable:  not  the  ‘typical  Hollywood  treatment’    Intelligent,  fresh  and  original  –  likely  to  have  twists  and  turns  and  be  multi-­‐layered  Unsentimental,  amoral,  clever  Opportunity  to  see  people  who  really  break  the  rules.  Much  more  daring,  unafraid  to  deal  with  taboos.      At  their  best,  British  films  are  highly  believable  and  easy  for  the  audience  to  relate  to  when  executed  in  a  way  that  is  funny,  clever  and  sometimes  knowing  but  not  schmaltzy  and  sentimental.  Interestingly,  British  soundtracks  contribute  a  great  deal  to  this.  But  there  are  negatives  as  well:    No  known  faces  /  same  old  faces  Depressing  or  grim  locations  and  stories,  or  period  romps  Not  cinematic,  could  watch  on  TV.  Lacking  heightened  emotions  and  themes,  big  names,  high  production  values.    No  real  peak  moments  so  do  not  engender  real  emotions  Moralising  and  worthy  Limited  and  predictable  (‘either  working  class  or  middle  class  and  seem  very  samey’)            Cont’d//..................             6        
    •    Now  obviously  some  of  this  is  controversial,  but  what  I  want  to  do  now  is  look  at  a  tool  for  trying  to  map  how  people  perceive  films.  So  here  we  have  a  matrix,  where  we  have  the  four  areas.    American  positive  ones  are,  let’s  summarise,  as  ‘uplifting’  and  ‘glamorous’  or  ‘life  affirming’.    But    their  negative  is  ‘schmaltzy”,  ‘moralising’,  ‘sentimental’,  and  ‘patriotic’.    Positive  of  British  is,  let’s  call  it,  ‘knowing’  and  ‘clever’  and  the  negative  is  ‘unglamorous’  and  ‘gritty’:                      So,  using  this  grid  as  a  starting  point,  we  can  start  to  plot  the  films  that  British  audiences  do  or  don’t  want  to  see:       7        
    •              You  really  want  to  be  in  the  coloured  area,  not  to  close  to  schmaltzy  and  moralistic.  And  you  probably  want  to  avoid  being  down  in  the  unglamorous  and  gritty  quadrant  which  audiences  say  they’re  not  that  interested  in.  Having  said  that,  there  are  some  films  down  the  bottom  here  –  Fish  Tank  and  Precious  for  instance,  that  have  been  quite  successful  on  their  own  terms.  However,  Fish  Tank  took  around  six  hundred  thousand  pounds,  which  is,  for  that  kind  of  film,  quite  big  but  in  real  terms  is  still  very  small.    Precious  was  huge  in  America  ($45-­‐50  million)  but  only  made  half  a  million  here.       8        
    •  But  there  are  also  some  films,  like  Trainspotting  and  Billy  Elliott,  which  on  synopsis  alone  would  seem  to  be  down  in  the  unglamorous  and  gritty  area,  but  which  in  practice  have  done  something  creatively  interesting  and  been  successful  with  UK  and  international  audiences.  Perhaps  it’s  because  they’re  life  affirming,  have  characters  audiences  can  identify  with,  but  these  films  became  HUGE  hits.  Slumdog  Millionaire  is  another  great  example  –  you  can’t  get  much  more  ‘gritty’  than  the  Mumbai  slums  –  its  definately  up  in  the  left  hand  quadrant  near  schmaltzy,  but  it’s  also  uplifting  and  was  sold  like  that.  And  there  are  plenty  of  other  examples:  Full  Monty,  second  biggest  British  film  of  all  time  (pipped  by  Mamma  Mia),  and  starring  the  normally  unglamorous  and  gritty  Robert  Carlyle.  East  is  East  –  there’s  another  one.  You  look  at  the  plotline  of  that  film  and  you  think,  ‘Christ  Almighty!’    -­‐  but  it’s  the  way  it’s  done.      There  are  other  factors  which  will  affect  whether  people  go  and  see  it.  For  example,  if  it’s  subtitled,  you’re  going  to  have  a  problem  with  UK  audiences  because  there  is  a  perceived  barrier  there.  But  if  you’re  down  at  the  bottom  of  this  matrix,  you  need  to  understand  that  it’ll  be  very  difficult  for  you  to  break  out,  and  that  you’ve  already  set  your  project  some  boundaries.  Of  course,  that  may  be  fine  with  you.  But  your  distributor  and  financiers  will  know  that  financially,  the  potential  of  the  film  is  extremely  restricted.        There  are  some  slightly  depressing  statistics  on  British  film  that  show  how  much  the  industry  struggles  with  these  issues:    Out  of  all  the  388  British  films  released  in  2000-­‐2004,  total  box  office  was  £572million.  The  average  was  £1.4  million,  with  only  21%  taking  over  £1  million,  33%  took  £100K  -­‐  £1  million,  and  46%  took  under  £100K.  Similarly,  of  808  films  certified  between  1998  –  2004,  only  45%  were  released.  These  statistics  are  slightly  out  of  date,  but  they  still  hold  true  today.  Similarly  of  the  535  films  certified  between  2003  –  2006,  only  44%  were  released  –  in  2004  the  figure  was  60%.        To  summarise  all  of  the  above  then:    In  order  to  draw  on  the  strengths  of  British  film  and  have  a  truly  competive  edge,  your  film:     MUST  BE   MUST  NOT  BE   Clear  genre  (will  answer  the  male/female  issue)   Genre  unclear   Great  hook  and  ideally  a  great  twist   Poor  hook  and  poor/no  twist   Great  soundtrack   Poor  soundtrack   Well  known  story,  actors  and  producers   Not  a  well  known-­‐story/actors  and  producers   Cinematic  (theme/  way  looks  and  feels)   Something  we  could  watch  on  TV   In  the  knowing  and  clever/uplifting  (life  affirming)  quadrant   Schmaltzy  and  moralistic     In  the  depressing,  unglamorous,  gritty  quadrant         9        
    •      THE  FESTIVAL  TRAP        So,  this  map  shows  something  else,  a  trap  that  I  think  is  laid  out  for  filmmakers.  And  that  is,  that  just  because  you  win  at  festivals,  doesn’t  mean  people  will  go  and  see  your  film.  So  what  happens  is  films  like  Vera  Drake  win  awards,  but  this  doesn’t  equate  to  success  at  the  box  office.    I  think  film  companies  gets  seduced  by  this  and  you,  if  you’re  not  careful,  start  to  make  films  that  actually  no  one  wants  –  ie  down  the  unglamorous  and  gritty  end  of  things.    To  a  degree  you’re  kind  of  right,  and  the  awards  and  festivals  do  gravitate  around  this  kind  of  stuff.    The  problem  is  that  audiences  don’t.    There  really  is  a  disconnect  here.  What  tends  to  happen  is  that,  if  you’re  not  careful,  you  are  held  up  by  a  public  sector  system  for  1,  2  or  3  movies  -­‐  all  of  which  get  highly  praised  -­‐  none  of  which  get  actually  seen  really,  properly  or  otherwise.    Then  you’re  left  and  then  you’re  stuffed  and  then  you  don’t  understand  why  nobody’s  knocking  on  your  door  to  make  that  next  film.  So  be  careful  of  the  siren  call  of  awards.     10        
    •      Finally,  this  is  something  for  you  to  play  with.  Put  your  own  film,  or  any  film  in  here  and  you  have  0-­‐5  ticks.  The  more  ticks  you  have  in  each  box,  the  more  fundable  and  attractive  your  film  is  to  audiences.  This  is  a  very  powerful  tool...          ©  Pete  Buckingham,  UK  Film  Council  2010     11