Brands extend their products or dumb down their offerings or slap their brands on inferior substitutes all in the name of reaching the masses.– Seth Godin
Inspired by Seth Godin once again (the dude’s writing rocks) his blog about marketing made me think about film making, my work(current and intended) and the industry as a whole.
As a film maker are you pandering? Are you watering down the strength of your story, characters or dialogue simply because want to cover as many demographics as possible, and lets face it, make as much money as possible? While that is fully within your rights, does it serve you as a film maker and the story you are trying to tell? Does it serve the purpose you got into the business.? Can you really please everyone?
“Trying to please everyone will water down your efforts,frustrate your forward motion and ultimately fail”.– Seth Godin
Apple is the biggest brand in the world, bigger than the Olympics, YES, a bigger brand than the Olympics, yet there are many people that refuse to own any apple product. Not because they can’t afford it, they just don’t dig it. Coca Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, but some people are determined not to drink it, they prefer pepsi or water.
Bringing it back to movies (yep, i do that). Can you really make a movie that is for everyone? Really, Think about it. Can you? No matter what genre. If it’s a vampire movie, The fans of John Carpenters “Vampires” aren’t likely to pay to go see Twilight. If it’s romance, fans of Blue Valentine aren’t likely to rush out to go see “She’s out of my league”.
In the horror genre , fans of The Exorcist, The Shining or Poltergiest, aren’t likely to be impressed by Friday the 13th:Jason in Space. Even within reality TV , fans of Keeping up with the Kardashians, aren’t likely to be caught watching The Apprentice( ok, maybe im wrong on this one) . No one show, can please EVERYONE, there would be people simply uninterested, and others that outrightly refuse to watch and disdain it.
Film makers like Spike Lee, Lars Von Trier, Woody Allen,Terrence Malick and several others know they can’t cast a net and catch everyone in it with their films, and they don’t try to.If they did, they would not have the quality body of work and respect that they have ammased. While they may not have the box office success of a Michael Bay (who has his own haters club), they do have a more loyal following. And while there is nothing wrong in making a crowd pleaser, say like The Avengers (which still has some people unimpressed). With that crowd pleaser still try to maintain some sort of artist’s intergrity, other wise the real people that appreciate your work will see right through it and call you on it(even within the confines of their couch..setee if you prefer)
As in life , as artists in our work, we can’t please EVERYONE. Even Citizen Kane, a film regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, has people saying “This film is boring”, ditto for The Godfather or any other classic you can mention.
Like you learned in high school,you can’t get everyone to like you(even the popular kids had their disdainers) and you probably also learned directly or indirectly that pandering to be liked is not pretty,and is not respected (does the opposite actually) and it dilutes the effectiveness of your work.
Yes, you can pander, and if you’re a public company and have promised an infinite growth curve, you may very well have to. But if you want to build a reputation that lasts, if you want to be the voice that some (not all!) in the market seek out, this is nothing but a trap, a test to see if you can resist short-term greed long enough to build something that matters.- Seth Godin
So while you keep the audience in mind and don’t get self indulgent in creating, have specific audiences in mind, not the entire ocean of humanity.