Love him or Hate Him. Adore his movies or think they are cinematic pile of (insert word), NOBODY,can deny that the man has found an itch to scratch in the black community (both American and African) and he is smiling all the way to the bank. Even if he is not to your particular cinema palette, you can’t deny he is one of the smartest producers(business men) in the film business in the entire world. He has created a brand and near cult following that has allowed him to build and operate his own studio, and play on the same level as Lucas, Spielberg and Rodriguez, where he has the dream of every film maker, 100% creative control.
In 2010 Forbes magazine listed his higher on the earning list than both Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckhiemer, now let that just sink in, HE OUT EARNED SPIELBERG AND BRUCKHIEMER.
So even if you don’t like what he makes, as film-makers and producers, there is still A LOT WE can learn from him. I was in a Barber shop came across an interview he did for a magazine and he gave a few tips
START EARLY AND KEEP IT OUT THERE
When Perry started out, he felt that there were a lot of bad plays out there,and he knew if he was going to stand out, he needed to be different , and be known to be different. so he made sure his name was on the ticket “Tyler Perry’s …………..”, this was a plan to make those that never heard of him, remember him . He carried this to his movies, and like is the name we know him to be today.
CREATE AN ICON
Perry is best known for his maternal character Madea, it’s his signature character. The gun totting, philosophy waxing character has appeared as the star to guest star of most of his creations. Many viewers love and related with her and often are disappointed when they don’t see her in one of his movies. That creation has allowed him to be worth about $500 million in less than 15 years.
…AND DON’T MESS WITH IT
Remember when Coke messed with their classic coke formula when Pepsi was nipping at their heels with the Pepsi challenge? Perry already had an icon with Madea and there was a temptation to make the character more “aesthetic and screen friendly” when bringing her from stage to screen, Perry resisted that, saying “millions of DVDs have been sold from the plays, so i didn’t want to take her too far away”
KNOW YOUR CORE AUDIENCE
I’ve written on niche market , and this is one thing that Nollywood producers like Uche Jombo and others have mastered. They know their market and they serve them faithfully . Perry has a one on one relationship with his audience via his blog and daily/weekly e- letters. He doesn’t try to please the critics or those that think he should be doing something else. He serves those that already adore what he wants “once you have the support of black women , they are with you, even if they have to walk through the snow 100 miles”.
..AND SERVE THEM FIRST
The same audience that served him when he was on stage, this is the same audience that he focuses on.
Perry works the internet , he talks to his audience on the red carpet . He talks regularly via online message boards. He makes appearances at his plays and interacts with the audience. “I’ve never written a word for a critic. But for the people who have seen the shows from day one, i work hard”
Woody Allen has a niche with the neurotic humor and largely humorous and pessimistic view on life and romantic relationships.
Michael Bay makes bombastic blockbusters with hot babes, fast cars and loads of explosions
J J Abrahms has his ” mystery box”, in everything he does.
Hitchcock was known for suspense.
Wes Anderson for his quirky characters.
Everyone can find something they can be known for , a guarantee that when they come to see your film they will get a certain experience.
Tyler Perry has done in less than two decades what those who have been the business for over 40 years have not achieved; and while money is not everything , and should not be put ahead of cinematic quality, it does give film-makers creative freedom, when write the cheques and call “cut”. If you insist, you can learn you cinematic techniques from Spike Lee, Steve McQueen, Scorsese and Hitchcock. But when it comes to branding, marketing and building a following? Better sit in the class of Tyler Perry.