Audience Interpretation on Filmmaking and Storytelling


I love talking with people about their view on shows and movies. Everyone interprets things differently and finds different elements that stand out to them. It’s amazing how different 2 people can view the same thing.

It’s also amazing how much you can control perspective through style, editing and tone. I love remixes for this reason, it can change your perspective on the original content.

A fun example:

I already had that nostalgic feeling for Lost but now I just want to spend a day on the island and play a round of golf with Jack and Hurley.

Other times, someone’s remix will forever make you hate a show. I’ve always been capable of looking past some of the details of CSI that don’t hold up in real-life, until I saw this.

After seeing that, I want to throw something every time they pull up video surveillance footage in the lab.

In the end, the viewer is the ultimate storyteller. You can deliberate over shots, lighting, actors. Try to control every aspect of the story, but your audience still isn’t an empty box waiting for you to tell them what to think. They are so much more than that.

Historically, that interpretation by the audience wasn’t heard by the filmmakers. Critics would have their own audience to express their views to, but the mass viewer market never had the opportunity to share their personal connection to a story. The dialogue that the internet creates around everything on TV and theaters is amazing.

In the 21st Century, filmmakers will learn to do more than tell stories, they will learn what stories mean to people and how they connect with it. We are conversation starters. It’s something not easily harnessed yet, but it’s fascinating whenever I find films online that have comment threads with personal perspective and thought out responses. A trend I hope to see grow in the years to come, less trolls and spec talks, more focus on impact.

Next time you really connect with a character/story/scene, think about what you are bringing to the story that is elevating it in your viewing experience. It’s a great catalyst for inspiration and creative thinking.

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.