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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Rouge Wave Mailbag

Another interesting letter sent to the Rouge Wave, answered by one of our best readers at The Script Department, bon vivant and charmer, Tony Robenalt.

Dear Rouge Wave:
Can you reveal what sort of "target audience" considerations are to be made, going into a project? How important is such a consideration? Thanks.
-Masochist in Melbourne

Dear Masochist:

When I write something, the only target audience I really consider, beyond me, is the type of person who loves the genre in which I'm writing. If I'm working on a horror script, my goal is to write something that horror fans will enjoy. And since I'm a horror fan, and not an atypical one, I pretty much just focus on what I would like to see.

Here's how I break it down (via a series of questions):

Is the concept intriguing? Is it a horror concept? Does it naturally evoke scenes and situations that are scary, gory, suspenseful, spine-tingling, etc?

As for the execution itself:

Is this REALLY scary? What sort of a reaction will it provoke in my audience? Will it make them uncomfortable (in a horror sorta way)? Is it exploring territory that leads them down dark paths? Does it bring them face-to-face with the unknown? With their worst fears? With their most dreaded nightmares? Have I created situations that are rife with terror-filled suspense?


I'm a firm believer that YOU are the most important target audience for anything you write. If not, why are you writing it? So ask yourself: What types of films do I regularly pay to see? What are my favorite films of the last few years? Of all time?

Take those movies and dissect them, sequence-by-sequence, scene-by-scene, beat-by-beat -- and figure out why they work so well for you. Then apply that knowledge to your own scripts.

And while I think it's a good idea to (metaphorically) travel through unfamiliar landscapes every once in a while, I don't think it's beneficial to veer *that* far outside of what you dig. If, for example, you hate Romantic Comedies, and don't understand why people waste time watching them, then you obviously don't know the audience for Romantic Comedies. It would be silly to try to write one. You'll never really *get* the genre enough to pull off a decent script.

So, yeah, target audience consideration is important. But the thing is -- you have to know your target audience. And whom do you know more than yourself?

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