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Friday, February 17, 2006

Stop wasting time


I was going to call this post "Market Research" - but I didn't. Are you kidding??? Imagine the sound of all the delete keys being hit at once. That's because when we think of market research we think of these nonsensical diagrams above.

But if we are to succeed as writers (and film makers) then shouldn't we try to understand our market a little bit. If we don't then this is the scenario...
You spend a year writing a spec script. People quite like it but won't make it because they know that the industry can't support your $10 million World War One epic. At the moment not enough people will pay to see it. So that's that.
Well if you knew that at the start you might not have done it, or you may have reduced its priority and written another one of your great ideas first. All market research means is finding that information out early.

Questions that might be going through your mind:

One: Yeah, but Tim. You said we must write the stories we want in a recent post. Now you're saying write for the market. Wrong! I'm saying that any idea you are putting foward must be a good, personal vision idea. But instead of spending 6 months writing one script you could work up 6 ideas to market research.

Two: But nobody buys treatments / outlines! Correct. But you're not selling anything are you. You are doing market research. Its nice to offer people a meeting where someone isn't trying to pitch / flog something. Its just a chat to discuss your feature treatments. Of course, if your lead happens to like the idea then this is good news for your market research and good news as you can put them top of your list of people to send the script to when it is finished.

Three: Does it work? Yes. This was my stategy last year at Cannes. I got 20 meetings from a standing start - no previous contacts.

1 comment:

Suki Singh said...

I agree with there Tim but there are no hard and fast rules here. Just common sense; have we lost common sense? On a personal level, which means, me me me, is that I love a small marketable concept, something can be said quickly, remember this concept/pitch/one liner stays the same from writer to producer to screen to marketing campaign to word of mouth. There is the odd 'lottery' exception, the kind of examples people pull from the air to make there point about writting a boring pieace of crap, or a one off film that made it through. I'm trying to win the film lottery, I'm not just hoping I will be plucked from the air, or am I dreaming, just a little. In terms of Markert research, make a small poster for film idea, write a short synopsis, test it out, go for a test drive! I great trick my good friend Roger Hopkins told me, which I used myself, was to write up your film idea as a NEWSPAPAER report. For example; my first script that was optioned, I wrote this up and visually designed it as a newspaper article, this is create distance from your audience and your unknown self, then present this article to them. I wrote my story as Steven Spielberg's latest film, but the CONCEPT in there and who are the cast, made it sound interesting. This helped for people to see the idea in a new light. Once they taken the idea in, made a response, then I would tell the truth, thus prompting even more feedback. This works for people on the street, friends and peers but I would follow Tim's advice when you get the meeting, which is another story.