Tips to Hold Audience Attention

download (5)When you’re trying to write or create a film, several important questions must be answered in order to capture and hold the audience’s attention. This gets at the heart of the movie experience, and you have to anticipate what audiences will expect from your film. Here are tips on how you can capture the audience through your writing.

Anticipate Desires

The audience wants to laugh at comedies, feel empathetic during dramas and feel invigorated by adventure films. Entertainment is subjective, but you have to consider that movies reflect life. Aristotle said that tragedy is an imitation of action meant to provoke catharsis. It touches upon the pity and fear of audience members and provides them a sense of vicarious relief. Knowing your genre and anticipating the expectations of the people sitting in theaters will you start.

Spectacle and Story

Certain directors are known for spectacle, others for thoughtful narratives. Both have their place in cinema. James Bond is a good example of what happens when we combine both. Not every James Bond film is a universal success, but the characters and the mood they invoke are unmistakable. James Bond gives us the thrill of car chases and shootouts with a plot that attempts to keep us guessing at motives. The actors and the characters are charming to us, villains endearing even in their brutality. Set pieces also play a role, especially in the film Moonraker.

Great stories have themes we can connect to, settings we want to explore, characters we want to emulate, action and intrigue, love and war and betrayal. Great stories also have something else in common too, they are told cohesively, without a moment’s wasted time.


Charles Matthau, son of Walter Matthau, owns the Matthau Company, a production company for both television and film. The Charles Matthau Company will produce Mexican High in 2015.