Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Creation Of Memories

Is what good writers do. That's why I get kinda annoyed when cruising the blogs during this time of the WGA strike and see the shills coming on to every site and spewing their [ironically]scripted mantra about overpaid writers.

The creation of memories is why the AMPTP are barking up the wrong tree with their version of what makes the best bottom line.

The AMPTP business model is take a film out wide, hope the theatrical release goes someway to cover costs, especially the heavy marketing needed to get any bums on seats, then make a profit on the dvd sales and TV sell through. On which they make a vast margin.

As a numbers game that works. In the short term. But in 'entertainment' if that is all you have in the short term then you are little better than the travelling circus with a bearded lady showing up at the small village. After the initial buzz, pretty soon the villagers are saying 'Is that all you got?'

I don't care whether the method of delivery is internet, movie theatre, TV or dvd. The important thing is it has to connect with an audience on a deep level. Much deeper than the bottom line expectations of the money men. Because without that deeper level of connection there will be no meaningful bottom line.

That's why they need writers. Writers are vital to that bottom line. In fact, without writers that bottom line wouldn't exist. Which is maybe why writers are treated like shit? When money and art get together, money generally doesn't want art calling the shots. And I can see their point. Money is about risk. Minimising risk in this business can easily be about keeping the creatives on a leash. A lot of us are so nuts we don't give a shit about bottom line. And neither should we if it makes us slaves rather than creators. You can go so far then that is the choice you have to make. The best money men know how to work that. The Studios and Networks are owned by money men very far removed from scripted entertainment .

But what we do, they just can't. One of the biggest B.O and more importantly DVD sellers in recent years was Pirates Of The Caribbean. Yeah it was a movie based on a theme park ride and blah blah blah. But to me, it was an almost perfect movie. And they are very rare. That's why it did huge numbers.

The Bourne Ultimatum. Again in my opinion an almost perfect movie. And the opposite of Pirates Of the Caribbean because in this case the franchise got better as it went on.

And in my opinion these movies were huge successes because they said something to the audience that was much deeper than the superficial story. Questions about who we are? Why do we do what we do? The nature of authority? And even just creating something that really entertained us enough to remember them after leaving the cinema.

Which is why DVD's are so important. I've seen a lot of traffic on the blogs from people saying the WGA should forget about the dvd formula. That is water under the bridge and they should focus on internet residuals.

Personally I think that is bollocks put forward by AMPT vested interests. Yes, internet delivery will be the prime pipeline in the near future. But that is just the initial pipeline. Because I don't think the long term thoughts of the consumer are being taken into account.


That's why people download from I- tunes and still buy the CD. That's why people stream Family Guy and still buy the box set. Not all. But the real fans of the show or movie.

Create something people really like. And I don't mean along the likes of American Idol or Deal or No Deal. They are a hand job in a dark alley with a $10 hooker as opposed to a night with a very drunk and randy Famke Janssen.

Create something that means something to a lot of people. Dollars will follow. Providing you have a strong union fighting for those dollars. Remember that in this business writers are regarded as the flint in the zippo. The current crop of execs can trade on the zippo name for so long but sooner or later the buyers will decide that zippos are shit. Because they were too 'cheapskate' to have decent flints.

They are the English F.A of the entertainment world. People with no grounding or experience or training in football. But they control the cash.


Oli said...

Whilst I largely agree, what about things that are clearly ace, but don't catch on - the cult shows and movies?

Sometimes that's a matter of marketing sabotage, a la Firefly, and in that case it recovered on DVD. But for every Firefly, there's a Studio 60 or Veronica Mars - stuff that just doesn't catch on, despite every reason that it should.

I don't have the DVD sales to hand for either of the shows I just mentioned, by the way, so if their boxsets sold wonderfully, please feel free to silence me.

English Dave said...

Hi oli

I don't know the DVD figures either. But VM went to 3 seasons and 62 eps. SS was mangled in scheduling but it's demographic was an advertisers dream even if the ratings weren't stellar. Having said that it is estimated that ratings would have been 136% higher if DVR 'live plus 7' were taken into account

My own theory for it's demise [as abetted by the schedule mangling] is that NBC finally realised that Sorkin was taking the piss out of the networks. lol

freebooter said...

Famke... drools... falls over in blind reverie.

Hell Yeah to the rest of it, you say it Dave so I don't have to...?

Mutters 'Memories' goes back to current spec... shuffle.

English Dave said...

Mutters 'Memories' goes back to current spec... shuffle.

I'm doing that too, freebooter, lol