Tuesday, June 2, 2009

should you write what you're passionate about, or what will sell?

I guess first off, it's good to know if you care if what you write will sell. If not, then off you go, write about the migratory patterns of butterflies all you like. Why their wings are spotted. How far they have to go. Someone might be interested. I won't be. But you'll be happy. And that's big.

But if you do want to sell something, then I don't see what's wrong with checking what the movie-buying people are interested in spending their money on. Less and less movies are being made right now. The recession is in full force in Hollywood. Big budget summer tentpole movies are not getting green-lit like they have been in the past. Studios are more cautious, going for the sequels, and the romantic comedies. Sure things or low budget. Feel good flicks in times when people need their spirits lifted.

I'm not saying that if you have desire to write about a man who losses his job, finds his wife in bed with his best friend, and he can't find a reaosn to live, then gets cancer, only to discover he doesn't want to die, and then dies... that you shouldn't write it. But I'm not sure it'll be very popular. Even if it's brilliant. Not in today's climate.

But I do think it's possible to take something that you're passionate about, and weave a tale around that, which will give people hope, and perhaps get you a lovely sale.

Take that damn migratory pattern. Make the main character a cute little monarch who can't make it the whole way in time, gets lost, has adventures to show him the value of tradition and the independance courage brings, and finally finds his way with the help of a dolphin and a crusty old seagul to the big ass once a year migration party in the amazon (or wherever the hell it is)... you've writen about your passion, given people what they want, and disney just might be interested.

I think the joy in telling a well crafted story can take many forms. Why not stear it in the direction of what people want to hear?


  1. Another thing that I guess would factor in is: if you do want to sell your script, how quickly do you want to sell it? Because yes, maybe no one will want to greenlight or watch the film about that Loser-in-life CancerMan right now, but that's not to say that it will NEVER sell, because hey, maybe somewhere down the line Mankind with be on this big goth/emo kick and WANT to watch something about CancerMan.

    My idea is that I will write whatever I want and feel passionate/excited about at the time, because even if it doesn't sell right away it will never be a waste of time, because I will still have a product in my pocket that I could potentially whip out at any point in the future. And even if nothing comes out of it, at the very least in that period of writing/finishing it, I would have been happy, and you can't say something that makes you happy is a waste, can you?

  2. Yes, you're absolutely right! Many factors.

    One is certainly where you are in your life. Starting out, all the time in the world, jaded and needing a mid-life change, or racing against time like cancer man. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle. I'd like to sell a script at some point when I'm still young enough to take advantage of the fruits of my labours.

    Happiness is the ultimate goal. So for sure, I agree, write what will make you happy. And you're also right in that times change (thank god!) and at some point there may be a market for even cancer man.

    For me personally, so many different stories or genres could make me happy to write them. So I may as well pick an idea or genre that is currently sought after. I love writing. It's a blast. It is my passion. And I can find ways to tuck and fold what interests me into pretty nearly any story.

    Of course, that said, if all people wanted right now were horror movies or war stories, well, then I'd rapidly rethink my position. But I'm currently faced with deciding which story I tackle next. Another sci fi futuristic action effects extravaganza or a romantic comedy. I will write them both eventually but I think I'll choose the lower budget story as my next adventure. It has a better chance (note I said better, not good) of doing something even more than the lofty goal of making myself happy while I write it.