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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Making your film successful - what does successful mean?

This post is a musing on what we may mean by 'success'. 3 of the top posts on this blog (measured by traffic) are; "What makes a good film?", "What makes a good script?" and "What makes a short film successful".

I guess people are looking for those answers, searching for them. Maybe we all are? But before we ask that question we must first ask - how will I measure my success / success of the film or script? Or as real people might phrase it - how will I know if I got it right?

This seems easy, but it isn't. I'm really impressed by Danny Stack's achievement of 5 million viewers for Sofia's Diary. But when I met up with him recently I was talking to him about what that really means. 5 million what? Views of it on the homepage? Watching it all the way through? Clicking it by accident? What?

But that goes for TV viewing figures also. What are they counting? People watching, people eating, people with the TV on who are really watching Sofia's diary on-line?

What should we count as success? Should it not be figures at all? Should it be cultural importance, the shows impact on the world or society? That would mean Cathy Come Home is highly successful. That seems right. But that would make entertaining fluff like "Trading Places" unsuccessful. That can't be true.

Is it a case that depth is better than breadth. Is really changing just one person enough? Or do we measure by money? More cash = more successful?

I guess (and I mean guess) that in the end it is different for each project - that is the 'art' part of our job. But it don't half make it tricky to fill in the 'your greatest success' on forms!


Big Fan said...

Hey Tim,

I voted on your film for the Babelgum Online Film Festival. It was pretty easy and I hope your film wins! I hope that Everyday Man Wins!

OnMeJack said...

I had a healthy debate with my class today, about films they thought were 'great'

and i was trying to get them to understand that sometimesa a great film and your favourite film. Are not nescessarily the same thing.

'There will be blood' is a great film but not something id watch repetedly.

'Donnie Darko' is a very good film i dont like. but im able to see that its very good.

just as i enjoyed 'Pitch Black' very much but dont really consider its contribution to cinema or its reflections on mans inhumanity to man, of which it has many.

Work that makes us think, challenges conventions or reinvents the wheel are great.

and sometimes so is being hugely entertaining.

Being successful, can be whatever we want it to be. it just upsets me when its successfully aimed for the lowest common denominator.

cough mini rant over.

Anonymous said...

As for the argument that more cash means more successful - of course everyone has to consult their personal code about where that bell curve levels out for them... and where it begins its descent. Clearly a homeless novelist writing on display machines at the AppleStore has a different perspective than Jerry Bruckheimer does.

And there is always something to be said for someone who chooses SHAZZAMM! over KAPOWWW!

With SHAZZAMM! but no KAPOWWW! - creativity with no abundance - you take shit from everyone, you can't afford to do anything, but you can at least feel good that you're moving forward with your life.

On the other hand, people who can pay every bill that falls through their letterbox, but still have a huge hole in their life, always seem envious about the SHAZZAMM! people.

Some people have neither. Everyone fears crossing over (either because they will lose their living or their creativity)...

And, sadly, the number of people who believe they can have both, and take steps to make it happen, is miniscule.

OnMeJack said...

and of course some of the most widely regarded film ie those that top best film lists.

failed when they initially released.

Tim Clague said...

Good point at the end Steve