PURPOSE OF QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH
In the early stages of the research and planning phase of my A2 production, I decided to execute some quantitative audience research into how our target audience hear about upcoming media texts, the genres they most prefer and what they believe are the most essential parts of a effective trailer. This turned out to be very important as the results I gathered acted as a blueprint in the construction of the template that our trailer would follow and certain aspects of the narrative of our original Neo-Noir text. I collected this quantitative data on a Survey Monkey, an online survey platform, which is a very effective and efficient way of gathering quantitative research as it rearranges all data collected into bar charts, meaning it is easy to spot positive or negative patterns and correlations and to easily draw conclusions as a result. In this post I will go through the results I collected for each question and explain how we used these results to create an appropriate multi-media marketing campaign for our original Neo-Noir film BLACKOUT.
These results are not surprising as for the past 40 years the number one form of film advertisement has been the trailer. However, in recent times there have been increasing popularity and use of film posters in film advertising. Magazine articles aren’t normally used for advertising new releases as they’re typically more formal and focus on the actor/actresses themselves rather than the characters they play. It is also not surprising that 45% of the people who took our find out about new films through all of the advertising tools as distribution companies typically have an advertising campaign that features multiple techniques and tools rather than just focusing on having a trailer for example. We used these results well by making sure that our poster and trailer had good convergence with one another and that they were used as advertisement for the film itself whilst the magazine cover didn't focus so heavily on the film and more on the actors involved and the film industry itself.
These results are what we expected as a trailer is the clearest indicator about what the plot of the film is and ergo without a good trailer that is effective in establishing the basics of the plot and that is exciting audiences most likely won’t want to go watch the film being advertised. These results show just how important film trailers are in advertising new texts being released and so we ensured that our trailer was both professional and thought provoking, attracting our target audience in as a result of the enigma codes we inserted, which as hypothesised by Barthes, will not only use mystery to drive the story itself forward put also pose questions to our audience that can only be answered through watching our text ergo creating a hype around our text and trailer.
These results aren’t of huge importance, we asked this question out of interest to see how influential cinema and the film industry in general still is and the results show them both to be important in people’s lives. What the results do show is that there are a number of films being shown all at once which allows for large frequent audiences and as a result we knew that we had to ensure that our trailer stood out and was as memorable as possible so that it attracted and stuck in the minds of audiences who would be more intrigued by our text than other films being shown at the same time and want to see whether or not different is better than typical.
This was one of the most important questions we asked during our quantitative research as we’d already established the importance of trailers and therefore the results from this question will provide us with the key factors of a good trailer. As over 31% of the results show the most important part of a good trailer is the cinematography featured we focused most on the manner in which we shot our construction to ensure that we had a number of creative and unique shots as well as well executed traditional shots to ensure that the cinematography was the best it could be. 18% of the results showed that having a clear narrative is another key component of an effective trailer and as a result we were sure to use narration to ensure that the narrative of our text was somewhat clear whilst still leaving narrative enigmas to be answered through watching the trailer.
Although our film was going to be a Neo-Noir film we decided to ask this question as Neo-Noir is quite a niche genre and we felt as though we had a better chance to appeal to a larger target audience if we made a hybrid genre with another, more popular genre. However, the most popular genre was comedy and in reality creating a comedy neo-noir hybrid wouldn’t be very good and would most likely end up being cheesy. The second most popular genre is action but as action is already an archetypal convention of neo-noir we focused on making a thriller neo-noir text. This was not too difficult there is truth to Neale's theory. Film theorist Steve Neale theorises that genre is just a case of repetition and difference and that ‘Difference is absolutely essential to the economy of genre' (Neale, 1980) as mere repetition would not attract an audience. Noir is a genre that frequently adds conventions to the repertoire of elements as since its niche it attracts directors who see themselves as auteurs, who see their films as art work. These directors are typically very artistic and creative and the Noir and Neo-Noir genres act as the perfect platform for their artistic freedom. In practice we had no problem creating an original thriller Neo-noir text that worked really well and this was all thanks to the quantitative research that revealed this potential hybrid.
We asked this question to see how popular the Noir genre was in order to better understand whether or not we could adapt the archetypal conventions of the genre to try and appeal to a larger audience. Almost 70% of the people we asked knew about the Noir genre, with this in mind we decided to conform to most of the conventions of the Noir genre but as 30% of the people we asked didn't know about the Noir genre we were able to include some atypical conventions in our construction such as Mary, a femme fatale who does not use her sexuality but still holds all the power over the male protagonist, Sam.
The reason why we asked this question was that we didn’t really have any idea about the popularity of film magazines and so we felt as though this question would help us get a better understanding. Over 95% of the people we asked don’t read film magazines. Seeing these results we decided that we would dedicate the poster and the trailer to advertise the film and to appeal more to our target audience whereas we'd use the magazine to focus on the actors involved and the film industry as well, appealing to the more adult, sophisticated audience who read Sight and Sound who have an advanced understanding and interest in film. We also decided to try and include some atypical convention to try and attract our target audience to film magazines as the current conventions clearly don’t appeal to them.
To conclude, all of this quantitative research was very useful as it helped us understand as a group what we needed to include in our trailer as well as gave us a better understanding about audiences and specifically which of our texts should be target at which demographics. The reason why I found these results in particular so helpful was that, as i eluded to earlier, Survey Monkey rearranges all data collected into bar charts, and doing this makes it is easy to spot patterns and correlations and to easily draw conclusions as a result. The conclusions I drew was that our trailer needed to have a clear narrative, a variety of shots and be mysterious, that it should attract our target audience by posing questions they would want answered and the only way they could have the answers they wanted was through watching the film.
One of the main things I took away from the quantitative research was a better understanding of what active and passive audiences are and how our target audience is active rather than passive. Packard's effects theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. However, despite his theory being a far improved development on the Hypodermic Needle Theory, ‘Magic Bullet Theory’, it does have limitations. The foundations upon which the theory was built was laid by a study made by Bandura and Walters, whose Bobo Doll experiment supposedly proved that children imitate what they see and hear. However, that study was made in 1963 meaning that it quite simply is not applicable to modern day film audiences. Modern day convergence, digital proliferation and Web 2.0 have all been responsible for creating a society of media consumers who are too well informed and educated for movie, or any form media producer to 'drip feed' large scale audiences with desired messages, constructed realities and their own personal ideologies and agendas. The effect's theory links very closely with Stuart Hall's cultural hegemony theory with the concept being that people of power in the higher classes who have control of media production produce media texts that instil desired messages and construct the realities of those in the lower classes who consume said texts. Both theories even link to Karl Marx's theory of class structure, with the proletariat being the consumers of media and the bourgeoisie being the producers. However, all of these theories aren't accurate or applicable to our target audience as they are not mindless consumers of media as these theories would suggest, but rather are consumers who are able to form their own opinions and interpretations of media texts. They are also becoming prosumers of media as well thanks to Web 2.0. The work of Bandura and Walters isn't applicable to our audience for another reason, the Bobo doll study was performed on children whereas typical audiences of Noir are adult males of 30 years of age and older, meaning the results drawn from the children cannot speak for the typical audience of Noir or our target audience of males between 20 and 35 years old. Theories that could be applied more accurately to our active audience include Morley's Reception theory, Blumler and Katz's Uses and Gratification theory and Stuart Hall's own Encoding and Decoding model.