Cannes 2022 - Marché du Film
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
impACT explores the different ways to make audiences care
CANNES 2022: Trying to figure out what audience development really means and how to engage new people in a project was explored during a very lively panel
The Marché du Film’s impACT programme hosted the “Wake-up call for European Film: How to make audiences care?” conference to tackle how the audience is being engaged with the power of social messaging and how this brings success to movies, moderated by Danielle Turkov Wilson, founder and executive director at Think Film Impact Production.
Ibtisam Omer, director of marketing (Global) for MUBI, explained that audience engagement is one of the biggest outputs for their company and it is based on human expertise, reviews and critics, not on algorithms. Curation sits at the heart of MUBI, and that always comes from a place where you love cinema and drive dialogue around cinema. It’s the foundation of how the overall cinema experience ecosystem really is built at MUBI and the option to talk about cinema. The reviews are important, and Notebook, the printed endeavour of the company, is part of the ecosystem that is really driving the conversation around film culture.
Marcin J Sobczak, managing director of This Way Publicity, mentioned that many times we develop and produce films forgetting that it’s all about distribution and sales, and we can’t answer the question of where the audience is. When he was working on Loving Vincent [+see also:
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film profile] he also understood that this was a project that couldn’t fit in the specific boxes that were splitting the audiences, but it was something more global than that and you can create many strategies for different groups of people. It’s about being honest and asking people what they want to see because we are asking for their time.
Getting a webcam into some underground music venues and having about 280 million people watching those music festival party events is how curator, DJ and culture strategist Michail Stangl has been known in music communities. He explained that this work was part of a bigger group of music activists that were addressing the needs of a niche of a few 10,000 underground music afficionados that they perceived as incredibly important to be represented as there was nothing for them in the media. There was no infrastructure to make space for these communities, they created their own to build it for the communities and they managed to grow it to a big scale.
You can focus on a target group, but for them it’s like a little community that needs to be represented. Understanding cultural narratives, even when they come from a different background and curation and doing such things driven by principle versus by what might be algorithmically identified as audience needs. The principal is also to challenge your audience, that you basically understand, what is the limit of their attention span and push it to that. For example, bringing more music genres to them and exposing them to something new but curated that will gain their interest. There’s more room for experimentation as well as the budgets being more forgiving. Curation is driven by principle and algorithms don’t allow for that.
Omer added that at the end of the day it is about the message you are trying to get across and who are you trying to speak to, that can be sometimes for a broader audience and in others on a much smaller scale. There is not one way to do it and the best way to do marketing is by humans. Every activity you do should hopefully bring you closer to not just understanding your audience but how people understand film, to fall in love with something they already know or rediscover it. MUBI is not curating or driving these film communities, they will exist whether you’re there or not, because it’s driven by people, and that’s an important message.
Sobczak said that he tries to see how projects can resonate with people, and as long as he feels for a project and believes in that, he can sell it as there is the right audience that needs time to work, but in the end it is rewarding. Regarding the music communities, Stangl said that they are dealing with very new and independent productions that could be five years ahead of what is considered mainstream now. So, what is important is bringing to light these artists and presenting the works of a mini community to a wider audience that will find its way to the masses.
Omer also underlined that the biggest job for marketing is to understand what the audience is seeking and provide that access, and that’s where you really see impact because at that point someone has had an emotional experience and is being inspired and wants to talk about it. The best job is to become these access points, communicate it to the audience and give people access to content that they would not have otherwise.
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