Here is a transcript and analysis of my focus group, the three people interviewed were all male, ages 14 (Timo) 15 (Raf) and 16 (Davy).
Me: Hello and thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions about my Post-Apocalyptic film. Firstly I would like you to introduce yourselves so we know whose voice is whose.
Timo: errm, hello I’m Timo
Davy: I’m Davy
Raf: And I’m Raf
Me: Alright, jolly good, the first question is: What’s your take on Post-Apocalyptic films, Wound you watch one and what’s your overall opinion on them?
Timo: I like them a lot.
Davy: As do I, yeah. I like Post-Apocalyptic films when they’re done well, yeah, but as a genre they are very good.
Raf: If its done right, I would watch.
Me: Ok, as for doing it right, how do you think it can be done right? For example what do you think makes a good film of the Post-Apocalyptic Genre?
Timo: Like a bit mixed, not too much of one thing, if that makes any sense.
Davy: yeah, I think the same, it needs a good story, good camera work, because Post-Apocayptic films tend to be quite visual and cinematic, so that area should be done well.
Raf: I think it needs an original plot, so it cant just a generic movie with bandits and stuff.
Me: Ok, in that case, How do you imagine the protagonist? What sort of person do you think it would be?
Timo: Usually someone Independent.
<bit of confusion between Timo and Davy before Davy takes his turn to answer>
Davy: I suppose in a Post-Apocalyptic film its often nice if the character is quite human, and imaginable, something to relate to.
Raf: I agree that the character needs to be relatable, so that the audience can.. like.. feel for him when something bad happens.
Me: Ok, do you think the protagonist should stick on his or her own for most of it or should they join up with a group?
Timo: I feel it would be more interesting if they joined up with a group so to have more people, not just about one single person.
Davy: Yeah.. I would say.. Like, I don’t know, Having groups in Post-Apocalyptic films is often quite done well, but one thing that tends to annoy me about this sort of situation is when everyone gets into a group and then, I don’t like the politics of the group, where there’s decent and everyone is at each other’s throats, I suppose its realistic, it just annoys me.
Raf: I think the character should be a lone-wolf, by himself, and should not trust anyone. Like, I don’t know, just teams not really good.
Davy: erm, sorry, do you mind if I come back in?
Me: Yeah sure, go ahead.
Davy: I..I…Thinking about it, I think that might actually be a better idea I think, because, I don’t know, its been done before where you have a Post-Apocalyptic film where everyone is bunching together, while if this was just one chap or chapette in their own journey and their own thing, I imagine that would be quite good.
Timo: M-mind if I say one thing as well?
Me: Sure , sure, just go ahead.
Timo: Erm yeah, if it would be in a group, I think it would work well if they knew each other beforehand.
Me: So before the Apocalypse they knew each other at some point?
Timo: Yeah, Exactly.
Raf: I can agree with that, because it cant just be like some randoms, who meet up and go into a group.
Davy: Yeah, because that’s interesting, but its been done an awful lot.
Me: Alright, next question would be…. Do you think the protagonist’s gender is an important matter, and if yes, what gender should they be?
Timo: I don’t think its of much importance really.
Davy: really just depends on the character wringing because you know… hopefully either way would work.
Me: ok, Raf, anything to add or is that it?
Raf: I think like.. it doesn’t matter on the gender, just stereotype, like making the man too manly or the woman too feminine.
Me: There has to be some sort of antagonist eventually , so, what do you think that would be if the world was destroyed by war? Would it be the army? Bandits? Or what o you think?
Timo: Well it really depends with what happened.
Me: the situation we went with is the world has been destroyed by nuclear war, and most of the world’s government have collapsed.
Timo: Well, then I imagine it would be different types of groups, I don’t really know, but maybe another group of survivors, like a gang.
Me: ok, Davy?
Davy: I suppose in that sort of a situation, everything is against you, but if you were to focus on one particular problem, I don’t know, it could be as Timo said, but I’m thinking multiple things, like the elements, a very hostile situation.
Me: Raf, anything to add?
Raf: I think the antagonist would be someone who after the war would step into power, like someone who was powerless before the war, then gained power after the war.
Me: Oh, so like street gangs?
Davy: Or an office worker who has been ‘shat’ upon his whole life.
Me: well, I suppose people change with the times.
Raf: <partially laughing> I think it should be someone with a depressing backstory.
Davy: I suppose a good ‘Baddie’ you could say, would be relatable. So if you can understand him and well-
Raf: But then you would feel for the antagonist and well that’s not the poi-
Davy: Well, not so much that you feel for them, just enough that you can sympathise with them, but they have still gone so far down into a Sh*t-hole that they are well, you know, that they are doing really bad actions which go against the others, I don’t know, I like that sort of thing.
Me: Ok, quite a lot of information there to process, the next question is important because it’s the first to be filmed: Lets say you are watching a Post-Apocalyptic film, it’s the first scene, what do you think it should be like? Should it be story about how the world got destroyed? Should it be action to give you a taste of what’s to come or do you think it should be a balance of the two.
Timo: I mean, it depends on the plot, because the plot might be trying to uncover what happened, like who drops the nuke, so instead have a cinematic of the world, or just show what happened, I don’t know. Just depends on the plot.
Me: Ok, Davy?
Davy: I suppose something cinematic, well I guess it depends what you have at your disposal, but I mean like, good music and good camera shots and good props. Just something showy and nice looking I suppose.
Me: Ok, Raf?
Raf: I think that the opening should have some story, and introduce some sort of story, but also needs to be eye catching and have action to draw in the audience.
Me: Ok, here is the final question: What do you think about the music? What sort of music for you think would fit into this film? Especially the opening.
Timo: well, depressing music I guess, I’m not sure if that makes sense, but sad music, but changing to more happy at the end.
Davy: I don’t know really, I suppose a Post-Apocalyptic world, for the opening anyway, I imagine epic grandeur with maybe slightly depressing, but maybe hopeful to, because it’s a new world and all.
Raf: I think the music should be Non-diegetic and something like.. to set the scene, If the opening is dark, then it should be sad and if the opening is good, then it should be happier tone, depends what happens
Davy: It should suit the situation.
Me: Ok, that’s all the questions I have you today, so unless you have anything else to say, we will end it here.
Davy: Well, good luck
Alright, thank you to Timo, Davy and Raf, that’s all the questions, thanks for helping out with this project.
From what I learned from my focus group, my target audience wants to see the following out of my production:
- A healthy balance of both action and story
- Good camerawork, cinematic establishing shots
- The protagonist can be either gender, but has to be relatable to the audience
- The antagonist needs to be relatable, but still somewhat insane or having made bad choices
- Avoid stereotyping characters
- Have the protagonist act solo in the scene I will film (opening)
- The antagonist(s) should be someone who went into power after the world collapsed, e.g.: street gangs.
That’s all I managed to get out of this task, as my research draws to a close, with only a few tasks left to go, I will start preparing the practical sides of my production, to be ready for filming.