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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Buggs

The 4 Audiences of Independent Films

Independent films have four (4) primary audiences: Friends, Family, Followers, and Fans. Each audience comes with a different measure of loyalty and network effect when it comes to purchasing your content and advocating for you as a filmmaker.


The strength of your friends' loyalty to you as an artist is in direct proportion to their perception of you as an artist and the work you produce. If they think that you and your work are great, they'll consume your content and spread the word. If they think you're anything less than great, they'll be congratulatory of your efforts but will reserve their support for what can be done behind the scenes. The simple truth is that, in public, your friends want to associate with and be associated with the best parts of you as this association is a reflection on them as well.

If you're seeking your friends' support in consuming your content and spreading the word, it's important to be realistic in your expectations. Not only will you have a limited number of advocates in this group, the extent of their advocacy is fickle as it is determined by how their affiliation with your content will make them look. It is not simply determined by friendship alone.


Generally speaking, family operates like cheerleaders. They stand on the sidelines and cheer you on as loudly and enthusiastically as possible. Though cheerleaders are great at game time, their cheers tend to fade when you're no longer in view. After all, cheerleaders don't cheer once the game is over.

For your family to remain engaged in a meaningful way, they have to have something to cheer for. There has to be something exciting and new for which they can sing your praises and share continued excitement. This is where things like film festival appearances (and awards), interviews, articles, critic reviews, photo shoots, and other events come into play. By keeping the excitement fresh and new, they can continue to celebrate your journey with renewed enthusiasm.


Your social media following is a mix of friends, family, colleagues, and complete strangers who, at one time, had an interest in who you are and the content that you posted. Followers can be active (engaging in your content via likes, follows, comments, and shares) or passive (only viewing your content). The level of engagement you'll get from your following (when it comes to purchasing your film content and/or spreading the word) depends on their engagement with you on social and how closely aligned your film content is with your online brand.

When it comes to leveraging your following, you have to be sure to give them what they came for. Diverging from your brand causes confusion and uncertainty which leaves your following without a clear expectation for what to expect. Mobilizing a confused audience is like herding a roomful of blindfolded cats: it won't be pretty. The goal here is to stay on brand and to further emphasize your brand with your film content.

(True) Fans

Your true fans are those who are with you no matter what. These people have proven their loyalty by following and engaging you on social, supporting you in person whenever possible, and by consuming