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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Last week, an old friend who is a director called to catch up. It almost seemed as if he was seeking reassurance.
"You good?" he asked.
My answer was simple: "How good can I be? I work in independent film."
Mark Gill, CEO of The Film Dept. dissects the challenges facing the indie film biz. Via Victoria Lucas His list of what movies do well is nothing to new to readers of this blog, but it bears repeating:
And then I like to think about the rest of the audience demand question in the way that we analyze titles. A good title should have many of the attributes that a movie needs to embody now:

*Succinct & Descriptive: the film has to lend itself to brief encapsulation. A high concept is no longer the thing that studio movies do and independent films shun. In this age of info overload, it's crucial for every picture to have this. Without it, your odds shoot through the floor.

*Distinctive: not the same story we've heard five times before; something that at least takes the cliche and twists it; not something we get too much of somewhere else in our lives (Exhibit A: Iraq movies; who wants to see more of that mess? We already get too much of it every day in the news media).

*Provocative: something that cuts through the clutter, stands out, gets attention; not "So then Phoebe sat by her mother's bedside, suffering in silence for eight weeks." Give us incident, conflict, excitement, ideally something that hits a cultural nerve.

*Memorable: this is essentially an accumulation of the other traits, or sometimes altogether separate. It's the avoidance of cotton candy. The possibility of resonance. Something sticky.

*Not too dark: these are very dark times, for audiences the world over. Audience enthusiasm for dark films is as low as I've ever seen it. There are a lot of reasons for this, of course. But the one I hear almost nobody articulating and everyone feeling is this: in the western industrialized world, wages haven't even remotely kept up with productivity demands, and that stresses us out.
He also explains how no one outside the US wants to see a western or a movie about American sports.


and then there's William Goldman's famous: "Nobody knows anything."

By Blogger deborah Nathan, at 10:10 AM  

The term is "accessible." You have to be able to make sure the audience "gets it" right off the bat.

By Blogger Cunningham, at 12:06 PM  

I live in Scotland and love American sports movies [except anything with Will Ferrell], but about this have learned to accept I am in a minority.

Of one.

By Blogger David Bishop, at 2:53 AM  

Finding it hard to determine if producers would consider a story totally unique. How many plots have similarities to other stories? I wrote a screenplay based on a true story which has never been told in film format before - but some people have said, it's kind of like this or that.

By Blogger screenwriterwannabe, at 12:06 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger kadgi, at 10:08 AM  

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