How the Master Captured an Audience


Examining how Alfred Hitchcock was able to create compelling content that connected with viewers and how to use his methods to strike a deep connection with your target audience.
• 1 cup of Alfred Hitchcock

• ½ cup Connecting with audiences
• ½ cup Creating interactive content

What makes social media so great for all of us content creators? It makes sharing our ideas with world as easy as a single click.

What makes social media so daunting for all of us content creators? Everyone in the world is sharing their ideas with a single click.

That means more often than not your great idea is going to get lost in a sea of other great ideas. Every blogger, Twitter user, and content creator is fighting to capture the interest of an audience with their message. And the worst part is we all know the “secret” ingredient to creating captivating content…it has to connect with your audience. So with all that content for your audience to sink their teeth into, what can you do to make your content stand out and connect more than others?

Watch Alfred Hitchcock. That’s right. Alfred Hitchcock. With the release of the new film Hitchcock, it would be a good idea to take a look at what makes Alfred Hitchcock such a compelling director and how you can use his methods to connect with your audience.

Cinema’s favourite eccentric filmmaker is a value to anyone looking to create content that connects to audiences on a deeper level. The rightly dubbed “master of suspense” perfected a cinematic experience that captured viewer’s interests and transformed audiences from spectators to participants. And the “secret” ingredient that made his work so captivating… it connected with his audience.

Alright, so that’s not a big secret.

The reason Hitchcock is so brilliant in his approach is because his content is interactive. It gets a bit dizzying [Vertigo] but the key to the ‘Hitchcockian’ method is not that he is connecting with his audience, it’s that his audience is connecting with him. What makes Alfred Hitchcock’s films unique is that they are not something you just watch. No. They are interactive experiences that push the viewer to take part in his content. In [Rear Window] we don’t just watch a film about a voyeur—we experience the voyeuristic gaze for ourselves. And as an audience it dawns on us…we’re enjoying taking part in an act that goes against our values. At this point the film is no longer about the main character it’s about us… our emotions…our values.

“But wait a second!” we both exclaim, “I’ve watched tons of films that make me tear up in emotion and yell, ‘It’s just allergies!’ What makes Hitchcock so unique?!”

There is nothing passive about a Hitchcock film and that is the genius of his approach. It’s a two way street: in the left lane he’s giving us content with a message and in the right lane we are trying to figure out where we fit into that message. It boils down to his audience having a role in creating a connection with his work.

We can all think of content that has elicited an emotional response in us—a hilarious picture of a cat in a giant shoe, an advert for a new product that promises to make you hip,  or a social justice campaign . But why is not enough to just appeal to your audience’s emotions and desires?

It’s because those are one way streets; they pass by to “pull” an emotional response and then move out from our field of vision. The experience is short-lived and fails to establish in real connection by focusing on pulling the viewer’s emotions. Far too often creators are caught up in thinking,”I’ll create something that really speaks my audience”. Great…you’ve pulled me in with some clever/emotional content and might even get me to donate a few bucks or shower you with Facebook  ‘likes’. What’s not so great is that there is a lot of other similar content I’m going to agree with– and if the Gary Coleman Saving Trees Fund has a more attractive campaign than yours, I’m taking my ‘like’ over to their page.

So what would Hitchcock tell you to do? Don’t speak to the audience, let them speak to you.
To truly hook your audience there needs to be a push that leads to an interactive conversation—and that push has to be created by the audience.  Hitchcock is masterful in creating content that has the audience attach their personal feelings and by doing the viewer is creating a deep connection based on their lives in relation to the film.

Take a minute to think of your all-time favourite movie/book/brand that you have loved over the years—the ones that really have a lasting sentimental value. Now compare it to the amount of other movies/books/brands you’ve enjoyed in this past month alone. Ask yourself why that little collection of favourites from 10 years ago is more memorable than the things from 10 days ago?

The answer should be simple—it’s because you found a way to relate those things. You didn’t just agree with it; you pushed to make it a part of your life. You found a way to create a personal connection with that content. If the audience has a role in finding a connection with your work, then your work is no longer about you, it’s about them.

We’ve taken a look at what Hitchcock does…the last thing left to do is examine HOW he achieves that result, and how you can apply that same ‘Hitchcockian’ method to your work. But, I’ll save that for part 2! (Ahh..the suspense)

Until then, take a look at this great video that details how Hitchcock marketed his movies…


One response to “How the Master Captured an Audience

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s