Documentary Australia

Defining your audience

“Audience” is defined by us in broad terms.

Audience includes television broadcasts, festival screenings, general cinema audiences, specific communities, corporate, not for profit and the educational sectors.

Audiences for social impact

Government film funding agencies look for recoupment strategies with a financial return on their investment, while philanthropists look for a social return on investment.

In the philanthropic sector the audience that is more important than a general audience is the specific community and/or subjects with whom and for whom you are working.

An audience may be as small as a few hundred people yet can have an impact that is larger than a broadcast transmission to hundreds of thousands of viewers. A small audience can be empowered to reach out to other communities who will relate to what they see and share the experiences you are exploring and presenting to activate real and meaningful outcomes.

If your subject tells a universal story, it will reach a broader audience and can be pitched in those terms.

Individual donors and foundations look for long-term social impact and educational outcomes. Your audience could be defined using a long tail approach to the outreach by defining how it could be distributed from the broad general audience to reach specific targeted communities and the educational sector over time. This emphasizes longer term impact over broadcast ratings and a long life rather than a short term hit with no ongoing strategy to engage.

Donors and foundations tend to be interested in documentaries that serve as ongoing catalysts for community action, public education and advocacy campaigns.

Define your audience and build a community of interest

Target that community and determine how you will reach them. Ask yourself: Who is this for? How will I reach this audience?

A television broadcast is an added advantage, but it is not the only interest for a foundation. Distinguish between mass audience and target audience and aim for the target audience.

Pitch your project to a foundation using this sense of your target audience, with the intention of making a sustainable difference over time, across local, national and possibly international audiences.