'A great, great film' according to the Telegraph's 2014 Cannes Film Festival review. Why did the restless Ciné Lumière audience shuffle out disappointed then? They muttered that the very same 3-hour film was too long and boring.
Frederick Wiseman's documentary on Britain's National Gallery has some rave reviews. I went to see it at the French Institute's cinema. Afterwards, I wondered what marketing techniques might work with a disinterested target audience. What appeals to one audience leaves another completely cold. The finer points of human translation go largely unappreciated. Can we learn from the marketing techniques used by an art gallery? Could they help win over a public besotted with machine translation? Over the coming week, I will post blogs on targeting a disinterested audience.
Right at the beginning of the film, senior gallery management expressed the desire to appeal to a wider audience. Their very involvement and comments were often at odds with attracting that new audience. The film reeked of excessive intrusion in the film's production and content. The majority of senior management discussions should have remained on the cutting room floor.
Yet, the film contained some precious nuggets of information. Conservation work behind the scenes was fascinating. There were some engaging cameos from guides in front of the public. I was reminded of airport documentaries on TV. The production team singles out their stars. Their cameras capture everyday workers and some unexpected characters going about their jobs. Problems are aired and solved on camera. Even VIPs have walk-on and walk-off parts. Interest is in the work behind the scenes, in the build-up to a VIP's arrival.
The National Gallery seems to offer a fascinating range of events for different audiences. Personally, I would have made the film's best scenes into short videos to view from their website. Just a few examples:
- The hidden picture behind a Rembrandt
- Lighting in Samson and Delilah by Rubens
- A guide explaining a picture to children on his knees
This bite-size approach would have been far more likely to draw in new visitors. In the digital age, video can share a guide's enthusiasm for a seemingly flat picture with a new audience.
Three hours of boredom can lead to total and permanent switch-off. Three minutes of engagement leaves an appetite to find out more.
Check back for tomorrow's post.
Karen Andrews runs
Anglicity Ltd. She is
French to English
content writer and
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