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Creative Europe Desk Poland explores audience development in the film industry


- The city of Warsaw has hosted a one-day conference dedicated to tools and methods for building an audience for films as well as exploring new trends in marketing

Creative Europe Desk Poland explores audience development in the film industry
A moment during the conference (© Maciej Jaźwiecki/CED Poland)

Reach Out! How to Attract Your Audience, an international event dedicated to tools and methods for building an audience for films and exploring new trends in marketing, was organised by Creative Europe Desk Poland on 9 June in Warsaw. The day opened with the head of the Desk, Małgorzata Kiełkiewicz, introducing the main aspects of the conference, and the event was moderated by Marzena Cieślik, officer and programme manager of the MEDIA sub-programme.

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The first guest speaker was Alice Thorpe, senior analyst for Ampere Analysis, who gave a broad overview of the global film market and how to find one’s audience in the streaming era. European audiences are returning to theatres for local content, which goes for Poland, too, and the cinema remains the biggest generator of income for films. However, the figures are not likely to surpass pre-pandemic levels. Also, younger audiences are more open to watching content in other languages, and they prefer lower-budget genres, such as comedy, horror and romance. An EU directive has prompted Netflix to produce more local content across the continent, while streaming services are particularly reliant on independent productions, especially outside the USA.

The first panel, “Think Audience”, was moderated by Anna E Dziedzic and featured Sanne Juncker Pedersen, of the Danish Film Institute (DFI), who presented the Closer to the Audience initiative, which focuses on a film’s audience insights by means of three tracks: AudienceFocus, a funding scheme for audience development; a workshop on audience insights; and a digital space on the DFI website dedicated to spreading knowledge and awareness of audience research. Niels Alberg, who collaborates with the DFI through Publikum, a service that combines deep anthropological audience insights with AI technology (see the interview), uses real feedback from people in order to conduct analyses on projects in early development. The team expects to find out how people react to the main themes of a film, and he gave the example of the research into the narcissistic nature of the main character in Kristoffer Borgli’s Sick of Myself [+see also:
film review
interview: Kristine Kujath Thorp
interview: Kristoffer Borgli
film profile

Chris France, head of the UK’s Audience Finder Service, presented an audience development toolkit that goes through ticketing analysis, gives the option to benchmark the data against a national data sheet, and offers a segmentation of the audience spectrum based on real data and geolocation. Meanwhile, Alex Stolz, head of film at usheru, opined that these tools are the future of cinema. His company aims to solve the problems that audiences encounter when trying to discover information about movies, as it creates digital platforms for distributors, national film bodies and producers so that they can have a more direct relationship with their audiences. Each film can be presented individually, and all of the necessary information on where people can watch it, and how, can be shared, thus creating a centralised space that is all-encompassing.

During his lecture “Identify Your Audience and Reach Out – Methods and Tools”, audience designer and crowdfunding and marketing consultant Paul Reith (Get Your Crowd) focused on the individual elements of audience building. He suggested that there should be a sociological approach to the audience, including interviews that would enable a better understanding of them. Furthermore, by creating personas for the audience, the team can establish the profile of each “ideal” viewer. Reith also tackled the potential of crowdfunding and the threats it could potentially conceal as well as the impact of social media on a campaign.

The second and final panel, “Master Your Marketing”, was actually an open discussion involving marketing experts from various fields, including Gabriel De Bortoli, of L’Avventura Studio; marketing and communication expert Nicolò Gallio; Eleni Oulani, of Greek sales company Heretic Outreach; Julia Short, head of studies at the International Screen Institute; and Boris Pugnet, editor for trailers and marketing consultant at Tiramisu. Regarding the best timing for a project to onboard a marketing expert, experiences varied, as some of them have them involved almost from the script-development stage, while there were even cases of films having to work on their material just one week before their premieres at major festivals or their theatrical release. Having said that, 12 months was mentioned as the shortest ideal time frame to work effectively on a campaign.

As for the most important marketing tool, Pugnet mentioned that it might be the trailer, but an analysis of the market is the most effective way to understand the audience structure; a deep dive into the information will enable you to understand who you are talking to. Also, there is a vast array of tools available to communicate with audiences of different generations: while social media are really taking over in this respect, traditional promotion, including word of mouth, also continues to work for more mature audiences. The biggest challenge in this field is that everything is moving so quickly and the variables are always changing. The audience’s preferences can turn on a dime and produce many surprises, while the power of algorithms is still unbeatable in promoting or “hiding” a film on a streamer. Finally, the distancing of some producers and filmmakers from the young generation generates further problems in terms of reaching out to them and creating entertainment that could later attract them to auteur cinema as well.

You can watch the conference in its entirety below:

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