An Interview with the Audience:
What have I learned from audience feedback?
I used a range of different platforms in order to discuss my products with my audience, getting feedback through online conferencing/chat rooms like tinychat.com, my Facebook page, class comments and face-to-face. Reaching this range of people from a variety of backgrounds and variety of knowledge (the class being of other media students, whilst online feedback and the face-to-face response was given by those who do not take media), allowed me to gather a range of different responses - this is based on the "Reception Theory", which states that an audience is active or passive depending on the text and the social/experience context of the viewer.
The main feature of our video was its narrative - in our following of a more entropic and hopefully artistic style, we only lightly sketched in a storyline (a boy who has a bike crash, and finds himself in a "dead" realm, interacting with those he finds there), leaving its meaning ambiguous and up for interpretation. This seems to have caused the most division in feedback. Many of the media class wrote that they found the narrative "confusing" - theorist David Gauntlett suggests that, in the traditional approach to Media Studies (Media 1.0), media students are "taught to 'read' the media in appropriate 'critical' style" - that is, looking constantly for logic and analysis from a media perspective, not that of an audience member. With an ambiguous narrative, they instead are required to approach the text with their own opinions. What's strikingly different in my audience interview is how they immediately tried to form ideas about the narrative, ranging from "suicide" to "travelling" - a negotiated reading of the text (as defined by David Morley). This also could be understood as an "aberrant reading" - perhaps the people I asked lacked the "cultural capital" - in this case a higher level of artistic imagination - to understand. It was this witholding of understandable visuals until the final moments where the bike crash was depicted that, whilst perhaps confusing, also had people "guessing what happened next" - engaging with our text. Our providing of a solution at the end in the tying together of our narrative was welcomed - "I like how it all came together in the end". Perhaps in our pursuit of entropy and a more artistic approach, we were isolating some of the audience who were unable to understand the video. A higher level of redundancy, making the video more predictable, and therefore more understandable, may have aided this.
Some responses could be understood as matching the gender of the audience too - in the face-to-face interview, it was Paul who suggested a point to be improved would be the introduction of more male characters - as our target audience was both male and female, it was important that we didn't make one gender feel disconnected - if our production task was to be repeated and improved, I think we should consider more how the audience engage with the gender of characters in the video and respond to that more with the addition of more male actors.
It was noted that our video fitted the genre - our use of sepia-like filters "gave it a vintage 'folky' look", whilst our "locations matched the song" and "setting suited genre". Our face-to-face audience identified more with the "alternative indie" aspect of the music, rather than the video as wholly "folk", though there is an overlap of folk and indie music and representations which could explain this. However, as the whole audience didn't respond to this as 'folk', perhaps we ought to have worked harder on aspects of mise-en-scene and other conventions that usually convey genre.