How to Win Over An Audience

This video of Orson Welles has absolutely nothing to do with animation, and it has absolutely everything to do with animation.

(Thanks, Ricky Garduno)


  • http://www.theAMIGOunit.com Bone

    He makes her look good.

  • uncle wayne

    well, as a performer and theatre-person myself, that was quite eye-opening!!

  • http://www.onanimation.com Daniel Caylor

    The guy was amazing. Scour youtube and you’ll find nothing but charisma and inspiration in every Welles video on the site

  • Mike Johnson

    I find it interesting that this DOES speak to animation (although it applies equally well to all forms of entertainment) and I would hope that this kind of thinking should become pervasive within the industry. PIXAR seems to understand it, since all of their films so far have consistently won over the film-going audience, and other studios only seem to get it right on a hit-and-miss basis.

    That, I think, is the key…if you truly seek to satisfy your audience, and you truly understand it’s value to you as an artist or corporation, then statistically speaking you should hit a home run every time. Of course, when dealing with studio executives and “the system” in general, it is often difficult to impossible to accomplish this feat as an individual artist on a project, even though I do believe that ALL animators on any given project sincerely want that project to do well.

    I have seen many animated films that were less than stellar where you could see individual character animation or bits of background scenery that stand out as particularly well-done, and I always say a silent “thank you” to those animators for achieving something that is truly marvelous, even though they will, as individuals, remain largely unknown by the audience.

    Anyway, a great clip…I always liked Orson and his bombast…the man was certainly intelligent and most of what he had to say on any given subject was well worth listening to.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Interesting that Welles admired Johnny Carson – who, as I remember, made “fat” jokes about Welles practically every night! Orson didn’t live to see the dawn of the Internet – where everyone is a critic, qualified or not.

  • http://virgiliovasconcelos.com Virgilio

    Amazing…

  • Thomas Dee

    I remember seeing this a while back in a compilation of one sort or another. I was stunned at how bad she was and how good he made her look here. He was a natural and a wizard. Very interesting.

  • David Breneman

    Welles is such a fascinating character. A genius, and at many points in his life, a flake. And that line about never disagreeing with Judy Garland probably came from personal experience. As far as Dinah Shore goes, there were scores of “ladies’ talk shows” in the 60s and 70s and all of them relied on the guests to carry them. Entertainers were, by and large, more entertaining back then. I think that one of the reasons talk shows are so scarce today as opposed to a generation ago is that today’s celebrities are such dullards.

  • http://www.onanimation.com Daniel Caylor

    “the dawn of the Internet – where everyone is a critic, qualified or not”

    so true.

  • http://wangdangdoodles.blogspot.com/ Rich Dannys

    I would’ve loved to see the part where Gary Busey plops himself down in a chair next to Orson, and slaps him on the back! hah

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    That was interesting alright. I recently watched “The Wizard of Oz” and then learned about the tragic life of Judy Garland. She died broke and addicted. And, at least in those early days, was simply “handled” and manipulated by the studios. So, I wonder what Wells meant when he spoke of her.

  • Chris Webb

    Give Dinah credit for even talking about this on her show. Talk shows in the 70′s sometimes had some substance, even the bland ones that came on at 3:30 in the afternoon, like Merv, or Mike Douglas.

    I mourn the loss of actual talk on TV. Other than Charlie Rose (who is a terrible interviewer, BTW) real people just talking is just not on TV any more. Now it’s all “Tonight Show” style audience baiting or CNN arguing. As a result, I think our culture suffers a little.

  • Carl

    Dinah was great. Don’t sell hert short, she was a smart, sophisticated person. She had Iggy Pop on her show for God’s sake.
    Welles, unlike performers today, could take a fat joke. He was on the Dean Martin roasts all the time.

  • http://www.cineforum.ca/ Reg Hartt

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And I could go on thanking you.

    Welles is dead on the money. This made my year (and we are only starting the 4th month).

  • Bert Ferrero

    Thanks for posting this, I’m becoming more curious of entertainment and animation from the mid 1900′s. Part of the reason Hollywood today is lost in its own excesses, and trite attempts at entertainment is unbearably void. Its harder to entertain people when your constantly beating audiences over the head with curt, and lame entertainment.

    Sure there are hits every once and a great while, but good stories which keep people engaged, and create an atmosphere which fosters direct feedback is lost. Welles hits this hard and straight. Its missing in a great deal of today’s work.

    The audiences want it, this is why there is such a lull in creative expression, besides the few who can do what they do untouched, but overall there is more blase, and safe, rather than challenging, and smart connection.

    Animation itself suffers greatly because of the way its pigeon holed. The other aspect is how big business rightly controls much of the stratus that is entertainment, who’s involved, and what people are designed to say/do.

    The expression itself has become confused, twisted, and misdirected as a result. Once all the bubbling tepid negative blowhards stop controlling what could be, and let expression be smart, engaging, and fulfilling then perhaps we might see this stagnation disappear.

    Until then, we all will stumble on videos from yesteryear, and marvel at the way people thought, looked at each other, and behaved with restraint.

    Thanks for reading.
    B.

  • John A

    People used to come on talk shows to discuss ideas, not just push their latest book/movie/tv show or product. Today, the networks produce talk shows because they’re cheap, predictably safe, and provide their parent company with 60 minutes of virtually free advertising for their shoddy products.

  • http://blendfilms.com patrick smith

    great post amid. animators need more orson welles in their lives!

  • David Breneman

    “OtherDan” writes: “So, I wonder what Wells meant when he spoke of (Judy Garland).”

    They had an affair in the 1940s.

  • Demetre

    Wow, I have to admit, my have the times changed.

  • Nicholas

    Ok, let’s say Orson Welles was a genius and so was anything that has ever escaped his mouth… can anybody explain what is the actual practical advice that he gives here in regards to how to win the audience, that would be applicable in animation? That we should “dominate” or “seduce” the audience…? That’s the secret? What does it mean and how is this done? And isn’t he mostly refering to live audiences, as the first part of his speech implies?

  • Rooniman

    Mr. Welles just hit the nail on the head.

  • mick

    Nice one Amid. it is real now… it was real then… it will be real tomorrow… nice one amid

    so good, anyone with any questions after that is a feckin dink

  • NC

    Nicholas: I think it would be quite obvious how this is relevant not to just animation but film in general. He’s explaining exactly how you get people into the theater to see your film. By seducing the audience with alluring ideas, by dominating them with excitement.

    I really don’t see where the confusion is. Maybe you can elaborate your question.

  • Nicholas

    Oh, no questions allowed?! Apologies from a feckin dink then,
    I didn’t realize it was some kind of religious thing…you don’t have to understand, just to believe!

  • Nicholas

    Thank you NC, my previous note was in response to mick, before your kind answer was posted.
    Yes, I understood that it was meant for film or entertainment in general. But I was hoping he was saying more than just something along the lines of “win your audience over by making it interesting”. I was trying to understand how can we apply the idea of thinking of our audience as if it were “a bride on the wedding night” or a “bunch of angry beasts” because that sounded more original, but I think it only helps during a live performance, which in fact was what he was talking about (and doing). It seems to me that in animation we are much more removed from an audience than in any other filmmaking process. Nobody watches until the film is finished, so we kind of need more to live within the characters and the world of the film than think about our direct relationship with the audience. Orson Welles had theatre related sensitivities, and animation unfortunatelly doesn’t allow a spontaneous delivery. So my question was if anybody understood how his specific ideas on how to treat audience could be implemented in animation, but if I am overthinking it – then thanks, no further questions.

  • http://www.cartoonmonkey.com Chad Essley

    What a fantastic clip!
    Thank you. I think I learned a thing or two..!

  • joe s

    thanks amid i could watch him all day.

  • Mac

    Don’t underestimate Dinah’s participation in this interview. Frank Sinatra? Look/listen at some of those FS/ DS duets from radio and TV. Outside of Keely Smith,I think Dinah was the best female duet partner for Sinatra. And I’ve easily have 1,000 exapmls of FS singing on vinyl,tape and CD. The Emperor! And little ole’ Dinah made him shine and made the audience believe that Frank & Dinah were in love . And she gives Welles the floor ,even though she probably had more insight into FS and OW.
    As for talk shows:there are probably more today than ever,especially if you would use the term broadly to include the opinion hours on Fox and MSNBC,as well as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The Best:Craig Ferguson,hands down. I just made a Craig Ferguson reference in another post. There is a reason why Craig won a Peabody for his Desmond Tutu interview last year. First a monologue squishing the history of apartheid in seven fact-filled minutes,complete with jokes(yes,jokes)and then a fascinating interview with Tutu,who has a wicked sense of humor,a laugh to boot,as well as a great love life and love of life. Oh,and he has puppets and,soon,a skeleton robot. Beat that,Glenn Beck! Add radio’s Terry Gross to the discussion and the audio(as opposed to a written form)interview may be in a golden age. Ipods,internets and no time constraints mean a new world of yakking.

  • mick

    nicholas. come on man
    he explained it very simply
    what the hell is to ‘believe’ and i doubt you even know where you were going with your reference to religion… Oscar said what he said and it made sense and i understood it… that’s all. It is lesson one in entertainment I would have thought. How could anyone not think in this way and be involved in entertaining people? Sorry for the dink comment (it wasn’t aimed at you and i certainly do not wish to supress questions) but as NC says it was quite obvious.

    A great clip there that applies broadly to many situations. How you treat people/ an audience is a direct result of how they re-act to you.
    Simple… but it sounds so much better coming from a massive legend with a foot long cigar and a voice so rich

  • Nicholas

    My comment about religion was about how nobody dares to question the greatness of what he is saying just because of the unbreakable concensus that the guy is a “genius” and a “legend”. You mick yourself wrote a paragraph to say how “obvious” and “real” it is, and only a short sentence about what is actually he saying. You are in love with his persona, and I am trying to discuss the substance. Well, I agree with you, if all he is saying is “How you treat people/ an audience is a direct result of how they re-act to you” then it is pretty obvious, and I don’t see how the cigar adds value to this.

  • http://www.synchrolux.com Kevin

    It’s a fun, inspiring clip, but Nicholas is exactly right — aside from the inspiration, there is nothing about how to achieve either domination or seduction of an audience. And, contrary to what someone suggested, Welles says nothing about ‘ideas,’ and even if he implied that, he certainly says nothing about how one separates entertaining ideas from weak ideas. For my money, the one specific thing he seems to imply is crucial is spectacular talent, and then he points out different ways such spectacularly talented individuals can interact with their audience.

    I find what Welles is saying an interesting counterpoint to what Chuck Jones frequently spoke about (“I don’t think about the audience, I think about me.” That is, he made his films to satisfy himself, rather than try to guess what would satisfy an audience.)

    Ultimately, listening to clips like this inspires me the same way listening to Joseph Campbell does. There’s no ‘how to’ in it, just a master speaking masterfully.

  • http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ Nina Paley

    You can dominate and seduce an audience, just as you can “a bride on her wedding day.” But if you want a meaningful, lasting relationship, my advice is to offer love and respect. Then that “monster lurking in the dark” becomes your best friend.

    The very best analyses of audience-performer relationships are here, in my opinion.

  • http://manfromzork.blogspot.com/ Andy Greenaway

    Orson Welles was one of the greats. Such insight into how the world works. He was the original maverick (I believe he was the first celebrity to throw a TV set out of a hotel window – down in Rio), a tremendous womanizer and a monster drinker. Here’s a cartoon in tribute to him.

    http://manfromzork.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-to-be-drinking-buddy.html

  • NC

    I think Kevin’s got it down on the head. Although to add I think what Orson has to say applies much less to animators and more to the film in itself. It’s true that animators cannot act the same way an actor can in front of an audience. But if the filmmaker approaches the audience with an idea of what they are looking for he can start to tailor his film to what the audience needs. That’s my two-cents on it.

  • NC

    Oh by the way Kevin where I can hear Joseph Campbell speak I’d love to hear his lectures.

  • Tony W.

    I wonder what he meant by saying that the audience was almost extinct.

  • NC

    I think what he was referring to was the growing decline in live theater audiences.

  • http://luiscavaco.com Luis Cavaco

    Wells did what he was talking about, with the talk show audience, taking them out of their comfort zone, shocking them by saying that they were not a real audience.
    Just enough to have their attention, not really insulting them, and then luring them back in with compliments and jokes, dominating the audience and the host.
    The tv viewer is also draged in with the “monster lurking in the dark”.

    You can choose to make a strong emotional statement that affects and grabs your intended audience, just like Up did in the begining, Akira with the the city explosion, etc, etc.

    Or you can choose to seduce your audience :)