Sunday, September 29, 2013


So, it's Election Day +1 in Australia (NOTE: I originally wrote this on 8th September).

A victor has been crowned. Champagne is being packed away. Excuses are being formulated on the losing side.

On the more personal level, individuals are getting out their last rant on social media. Some are enjoying a satisfying victory gloat. Others reminding us all why we will regret this decision in the months to come.

Personally, I have a view on the election outcome, but it's all a moot point now anyway. I've taken to making fun of the whole absurdity on Twitter.

Made me laugh. Humour always seems like the best response to me.

Regardless of the election outcome, however, there is one overall element I observed that was extraordinarily encouraging.


Isn't this supposed to be the era of the apathetic?

But there it was, on full display. Genuine passion about the election from people of all credos, professions and demographics.

There was a lot of parochial disagreement, of course, but the level of audience engagement with the overall election should make any filmmaker jealous.

The obvious explanation is that politics is an unusual beast, capable of stirring a more fervent response in people. That may be true, but why then are Australians forced to vote?

What if it's not just about politics bringing out the zealot in everyone? What if the passion we see at election time is about something fundamental to engaging with people's innermost thoughts and desires? What if the reason that elections inspire such passion, is because the discussions they engender provoke thought and emotion in people?

And isn't that exactly the goal of a filmmaker or visual storyteller: to connect with people and provoke them to think and feel something?

That's what was wonderful, for me, about the election. The audience responded.

Why is that wonderful?

Because for filmmakers and visual storytellers, including me, who are out in the world trying to connect with audiences, it is easy to get disheartened. It's a difficult task engaging with audiences. They have so many options these days. After a while, you can start to assume that there is no audience for you out there.

And then you see the response from people the election creates.

And you realise that you should never, ever, confuse the difficulty in finding and engaging with an audience with a lack of demand.

Audiences are out there. They want to be provoked. They want to respond. They want films and visual stories BADLY, as long as the quality is high enough.

But you don't have to just take my word on it. Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey very recently gave a terrific speech on how enthusiastic audiences respond when given great stories.

They binge on them. (video excerpts of his speech)

He was speaking about his recent hit show, 'House of Cards'. In a departure from the norm, Netflix released all of the show, every episode, at once. No more waiting for next week like on traditional television.

And, just like in the election, the audience responded with gusto. With passion.

They binged.

This is the goal for filmmakers to aspire to. To tell stories that create this kind of engaged response.

It's not easy. Just like the election, there are winners and losers from the speed dating between filmmakers and audiences. Especially in this era of far more choice than ever.

But the good news is that the audience is definitely out there.

They're waiting.

Waiting, for us to make the first move.

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