The Widow’s Web: Survey Responses (Qualitative Feedback)

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

Following the creation of our trailer, we put out a quantitative survey for some randomly selected audience members to answer via social media. Here are the responses we received.

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The vast majority of the responses we received for our film were positive ones. Many people felt that it was a good introduction to the film. The audience correctly identified that the start of the trailer was meant to be slower in pace and act as an introduction (exposition) to the plot of the film. Thus, it would appear that we have been successful in our task to make an audience want to see our film so far.

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Following this set of feedback we received, it is clear to see that the vast majority of the audience have a good understanding of the plot of our film. Many have correctly identified that Mark is the main protagonist (a journalist) and that his friend/colleague, Hans is killed by the Black Widow. Whilst some have differentiated Rosette from the role of the Black Widow, all have identified her as evil and many claim that she killed both Hans and Mark. However, importantly, many also believed that Hans had committed suicide which shows that we have been successful in creating an ambiguous trailer so the audience will watch the full film to find out the truth. There has been a slight error from some people in claiming that the character of Mark is a policeman or Rosette has killed a string of people. These are not quite correct and this may mean we have to go back and make the job role of Mark slightly clearer.

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Many people were also along the correct lines when asked the genre of our film. 4/15 correctly said that it was a noir and many also felt that it was either a thriller or crime film; which are close synonyms to the nature of noir, especially if the audience didn’t know the correct terminology for the genre. There was one response that claimed it to be an action film- but this in the minority so we can perhaps discard it.

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There was a wide range of what people identified as their favourite part of the trailer. Quite a lot seemed to stem from the pace of the editing alongside the fast-paced music. Thus, we can learn from this that there are many good elements of our trailer that we can be proud of.

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Perhaps, the most important part of this survey is asking people what we could improve about our trailer. Most comments seemed to centre around the cinematography of the trailer. Some felt that shots were either too shaky or too dark. Both of these statements upon reflection, are quite possibly true and may be something that we look at in another round of post-production. Other people felt that some parts of the plot of the film were too obvious or the acting was poor. The latter is something that we just have to accept as down to people’s individual taste, whereas the former can be linked with what people said when we asked them for the plot of the film. As this audience member stated, the plot may be too obvious and the fact that many correctly identified it in the survey can be used to back this statement up. There is a fine balance between making the plot easy to follow for the audience and giving away everything that happens in the film. I personally feel, due to some people believing that Hans committed suicide- or not realising that it was in fact Rosette killing Mark that we do still have a narrative enigma to work with. The final area that some felt we should work on was the music. Some felt it was too loud or the transitions could be improved- this is something we will take on board and look to improve next time.

So the final takeaways from this feedback are as follows:

  • The plot is clear and easy to understand (perhaps too clear)
  • The genre is mostly correctly identified
  • The music is good but could be fine-tuned
  • The acting is subjective but not universally approved of
  • The shots could be stabilised and brightened (although noir is meant to use low-key lighting within the genre- but we can still improve this)

Therefore, this survey has been a useful exercise for us to reassess the quality of our trailer from the perspective of a neutral audience.


Linking To The Quantitative Feedback:

Both of these surveys revealed some mixed reactions from the audience. Both highlighted to us that the key areas to improve were the cinematography and music. We then learnt from the qualitative feedback that this was specifically the music transitions and the lighting within the shots. We also learnt from the qualitative feedback that the vast majority of audience members received a preferred reading of the text, so when people said in the quantitative feedback that they understood the plot, that was most likely true. We can also link the positive responses from both groups to understand that, this film ought to be successful if put on a mainstream release. This would help us if we were to make further iterations of the trailer.


Quantitative Feedback

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

Whilst producing our trailer, we also made a SurveyMonkey with some closed quantitative questions for audience members to answer. We asked 20 people at random, some of whom are in our target audience whereas others were not. Therefore, it is important to note that these people will have a limited understanding of the genre of noir (which is a more niche genre) and their understanding may be slightly less developed than my own. Here is what we found.


Firstly, 70% of our respondents reported that they liked our trailer. This is always a good thing as the purpose of any trailer to advertise a film to an audience. Whilst six people did answer that they did not enjoy the trailer, further questions will perhaps demonstrate as to why they felt like that, but it was always very unlikely for it to please everyone.


Again, an overwhelming majority of people reported that they understood our trailer. However, there is a danger here that they may have understood their own negotiated reading of the text, but this may not reflect the plot which we have created ourselves. However, if this conforms to the same results that we will attempt to uncover in our qualitative results then this will not matter so much.


It is clear that our trailer has numerous different selling points to the audience. There was an almost even split amongst people as to what their favourite part of the trailer was. However, the plot came out just on top which is arguably the most important part of any film/trailer, as it could look appealing but if the story is not engaging, then no one will go and see it!


There was more consensus when it came to what people believed we should work on. Here it was stated that the cinematography and music were the main key things to improve. In our qualitative feedback, we will be able to discern exact reasons as to how these could be improved.


We also asked some sub-questions to gain an insight into the mindset of our audience. When asked what their favourite genre of film was, 35% answered comedy, with noir only receiving two votes. However, it is important to consider that noir is in itself a niche genre meaning that our film is targeted at this small 10%. If we can maintain a consistent understanding of the noir repertoire of elements along with some sub-elements of comedy and action films, then we can appeal to the widest audience.


The response to the previous question is largely backed up by our following question with 68% of people never having heard of noir before. This is likely due to its obscure nature as a genre, although audience members may have seen a noir film before but just not have realised it.


We were also able to determine that many of our audience will go to the cinema either once a week or once a month (on the whole), this therefore would mean that our film would have a good chance of succeeding at the box office if it were to go on a mainstream release.


We were also able to discern that a significant number of the public will go and see a film based on its trailer. Therefore, this means that our film is likely to succeed if we can produce the trailer to a high enough quality.


We then asked for people to rate the trailer out of five. We received an average 3.8 rating, which is probably a number that could be improved further. Thankfully, no one thought our trailer was worse than 3* and some did give it 5* showing a range of mostly positive opinions.


We then looked to see how much appetite was generated by this trailer to see the full film, i.e if it did its job correctly. A considerable number of audience members chose to be rather tentative at this stage. This could be due to the fact that we didn’t directly target our primary audience of 25+. If we were to do this again, hopefully, the results would be more weighted towards ‘very likely’.


Therefore, from this exercise, we have obtained feedback on what areas need to be improved for our trailer and how it would be received on a mainstream release. We will now go about conducting some qualitative feedback to link back to these original findings.