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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I know the figures

Its an oft quoted phrase in Hollywood for people to say that they "Know the figures". That is - that they know the audience, who will turn up, who will open their wallet, or purses.

Here is the IMDB ratings for Eight. Great! What do these figures mean though. I'm none the wiser really. Does anyone really know the figures? Should they?

If you always try to second guess the audience, wrangle the demographics and agonise on how this relates to the industry you will always fail. Your story must to true to itself. This is for three reasons:

One: Artisically you will feel better about writing what you want to write
Two: From an industry point of view they have moved on. Why are you writing a 'My Name is Earl' clone? Yes. Its fresh for us. But for TV people its old news. They want the next thing.
Three: A smaller market. Get youtself into a smaller market. I don't even know if there is a market for a Medieval Western or not. But I do know that I'm at the top of my market. I don't have to spell out the small detail of where my idea is different from the last 10 scripts that landed on their desk. My genre is original in itself!

So, perversly, ignore the figures to be better at marketing your script!

Picture: After Eight. Jack Langan-Evans and Mark E'von after an awards ceremony back in 1998.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Tim, read about you on Danny Stack's blog and thought I would drop by and say hi and tell you I am DEFINITELY interested in your sales initiative for writers. DIY stuff like this is a GREAT idea and I'm well up for it! BTW you look familiar. Did you go to Bournemouth University?

Suki Singh said...

I do like stats, I like numbers and charts. For films, it depends which angle you coming from. From a creative point of view, stats means nothing, from a business point of view, they mean a lot. On the creative note, you can go two ways when you write a script. First, write what you want, like, feel and enjoy. I've been writing a lot these days, coz I want to tell these stories, they excite me and I enjoy the puzzle of my concepts. If you are not enjoying it, do something else, in my view. So where do stats come into play? I think it's all this notion of 'business plans'. If you have never seen one, then they do include information about, tax breaks, box offices figures and sales estimates. The business plan for your film is important, only if you keep it simple, to try and get some money from private individuals, small investors and E.I.S funds, which have been set up tp invest into these kind of things. If you were to go to somewhere like Cannes, you would see that there are two ares of film making; there is the market driven films which are born from stats, even down to the way the script is written, i.e. at which page the plot twists are etc. and then there are the festival films, which are selected, I hope, on artist grounds, they are 'respected films' that have nothing to do with stats, but will do later, if they do well at the box office coz they won a prize or two. If you making a market driven film like a teen horror flick, then you will have a tight business plan, know the audience and which countries will buy your latest horror; this is to suggest you are a small player, have some some investors and want to make a buck back, that's fine, there is plenty of this crap to go around. As Tim says, maybe a unique angle will be better, but not just for the sake of it. I think if you are at a point of 'low budget movie' I think you should make a film with only the industry and peers as your audience, they will hire your for next paid project, if you were to make the same old crap, then there are plenty of people to choose from, so my point is, the film, if it is unique in some flavor, then this will reflect on to your goodself! Remember the six cloned migets in 'City of the lost children', all they wanted to know was who is the original one amongst them.

Tim Clague said...

Suki makes a good point as ever. But I still think its best to not try to mimic existing product too closely - even for market films. Market films are driven more by producers. They commission scripts. If they want a traditional teen flick with standard structure - they will probably commission it.

For your spec script you can still do a teen horror. But do it your way. They might like your style. And either talk about that as new project or more likely get you to write their standard script anyway. But at least you got the gig!

Tim Clague said...

And to Lucy - I did go to Bournemouth Uni yes. In fact so did Suki who replied above.

Anonymous said...

Then I imagine that's why you look familiar cos I did too, though I was on the screenwriting BA. You on TV? New Media...?

Tim Clague said...

I was there from 1992-95. So a bit before you!

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is a bit before me considering I was still at secondary then - weird though, cos you def look familiar. Maybe I saw your pic there, they always used to put people's passport photos up on the wall...Or maybe I just saw you on Danny's blog before, I'm so pregnant and confused these days!

Tim Clague said...

Yep. I'm often checking out the Stack-meisters blog.