Audience Expectation

I was listening to the radio today as I was coming home and the station I was listening to were discussing when has a film disappointed you from the trailer or synopsis. This issue was raised because a viewer in America was disappointed by the film Drive (starring Ryan Gosling) because it “wasn’t anything like The Fast and the Furious“. Now Matt and I went to the Australian premier of Drive a couple of months back and we weren’t expecting much from it either except a guy who drives cars.

Now we went to the premier without any real knowledge of the film, and it was fair to say that we were mainly there to relax from general film life to actually enjoy and connect with other industry individuals on a fun level. IMDb was the main “go to” website for film, as I discovered, as it was where the station went to for the actual synopsis.

A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
-IMDb on Drive

Now this is the exact thing that we saw when we watched it that long ago. Which finally brings me to the main point of this article, “do people actually read the synopsis/logline prior to the film, or are we more likely to assume it on the name?”

Now this question isn’t as easy to explain as you’d think because there are tonnes of titles out there and who’s to know that Paul would be about an alien, any more than the guy Jesus knew? But people were more dominate in the noun and verb, single titled films that assumed knowledge.

A caller responded to the station, and stated that Cloverfield was a “horrible film that gave her and her friends motion sickness”. Now I’m not trying to defend or negate films here (that’s for an upcoming advancement to MBFilms) but rather understand how people/our audience comprehend films at face value.

This particular caller -as well as the hosts- said that there was disappointment from finding out that the whole thing was through a guy’s video camera. Now the caller was in her middle age, not to suggest it has any defying impact, but I do believe the film wasn’t targeted toward her or her friends. The film was more likely to be directed at youths aged 25 and under (until the classification kicks in).

But is this to say that she can’t enjoy the film as much as any other viewer? Well blatantly, no. We make films for an audience, but we want it to go global and reach out to anyone. It’s how we make money and a living isn’t it? But should the audience be required to understand that? That their viewing isn’t really taken into account.

These answers aren’t really floating around, hoping to written up. It’s not really our job to define these, but rather produce as much content as possible. But we are the underlying, final frontier voices which will be heard if asked.

In my opinion, I think there is a requirement for the viewer to actually judge their situation of the film and their viewing of it. Is it because of the director/actor/actress/other crew member? Is it because you read the book? Is it because you saw the original? Is it because it looked the best in the trailers available?

These all seem like generic questions, but when it boils down to the crux of the matter, these should be the reason why you like or disliked the film – not because it was crap. I went to watch a film because of an actress, and though her execution was brilliant and why I like her films, her surroundings were not as connected to her portrayal. Does this sentence make the film bad or not fulfilling the film’s description? No. It furthers the conversation that every film that is funded is funded for a reason (and boy is it hard!) so the trek to get from planning stages to green light must mean that they were best at that time.

Sure there are other factors, but I think sometimes the audience forget who they are and who they’re not. They are the viewer, and not the maker, so critique all you want but it was made for a reason, and in a context. It may be that in 20 years time we’ll look back and go “I didn’t like the Lion King in 3D” only to have agreements, yet today we all know that it only exists because of the phenomenon that is 3D at this point in time.

We’re always trying to assess and critique things in our lives that we sometimes forget that there are so many retractions that these artworks have to go through before being condemned by the viewer. I know in Australia, you would have to have a lot of money to be entered into the cinemas here and around the world for screening, otherwise your best chance is to gain funding from the government (ha ha, oh like that’ll happen).

So next time you go out and didn’t like a film really ask why. Just don’t rate it bad because you didn’t think that Landon and Jamie shouldn’t have got together, but rather that you didn’t like the portrayal of them together at the end, wishing for a happier ending.

Who knows you may actually find that you actually did enjoy quite a bit of the film and was just one section that made you insane!

There were other callers and they too expressed their distaste for other films, and the discussion got a little over the top with the notion of hating all Stephen King adapted films -like seriously where would we be without half his books? I then turned the radio off and thought that they were the viewer who will enjoy it, and/or hate it so long as everyone else in the room is.

For the record: I love Lion King, and don’t actually mind it is in 3D.