Film Friday: How to Listen to Your Audience Online

In digital filmmaking, you have many tools at your disposal to help better-understand the work you create.  The Internet offers an unparalleled platform for distribution and audience feedback. It is easier than ever for audiences to actively and passively communicate what works and does not work about your film.

A under-utilized and invaluable tool for filmmakers looking to grow through their body of work is YouTube Hot Spots (available in the insight section for “My Videos”). These graphs map audience attention to your videos throughout their duration by tracking drop-out rates, mouse clicks and rewinds. You are able to pinpoint moments in your video that are more or less successful than others.

A year ago, I posted a comedy music video called Cocaine Crazy. While it only has 8,000 hits, those impressions shaped an extremely informative portrait of successful and unsuccessful aspects of the video.

 Cocaine Crazy Hot Spots

  • The opening skit was the least successful attention grabber (a large mistake considering the opening is key to hooking web audiences from frame one).
  • The choruses became redundant as the video went on (except for the second half of the third chorus when cocaine started to fly everywhere).
  • The joke and rhyme-packed verses anchored the video and had high rewind power.

Self analysis is invaluable. No where else have I seen a tool that can tell you when moments are dragging, redundant, funny, not funny or downright failures. More often than not, this data will merely support intuition. But in a few instances in my career, this data has redefined major structural changes to development material.

Pay attention to your audience.

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