Welcome to the fifteenth of our Creative Challenges. In our third week of Creative Challenges, we’re exploring what producers and commissioners actually need from writers: WriteMovies’ 100-Day Creative Challenge 15 is about commercial viability in the entertainment industry.
Guidance: For the next 20 minutes, use whatever method you like – thoughts and ideas, mind maps, diagrams or sketches, a sample of script, prose, poetry – as you prepare a creative piece about:
A film or TV show that’s guaranteed to lose its producers a lot of money.
- As you work through this task, you might also consider how this activity relates to commercial viability in the entertainment industry.
- Save or photograph your work as a document called “100DayCC15”. Then reflect on this experience and what it has taught you about you and your writing: what comes naturally to you, which aspects were easy and difficult, and the subjects, angles and attitudes that you like to focus your writing on.
- Share online if you like using the hashtag #100DayCC15 to compare to other people’s experiences and support each other, or submit to our Academy Lite if you’re a subscriber!
When you complete the Challenge – or if you get completely stuck – then look at the Feedback below!
Making a film or TV show that’s guaranteed to lose money can be harder than you might think – as the characters of THE PRODUCERS find out when they try to make a show that’s guaranteed to fail! That’s fiction, but this wasn’t: in 2001, at the time of the critically-panned, yet commercially successful, PEARL HARBOR film, one studio head confided that “We seem to be able to sell almost anything, regardless of quality. It’s a little frightening.” (https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2001-sep-05-ca-42132-story.html)
In practice, that’s due to the enormous spend and effort being put into the marketing of high-budget productions that the studios or networks couldn’t afford to see fail. Actually, the real issue is getting anything to be produced in the first place. In the real world, a dud is a dud. Because slots are so competitive, and distribution deals are hard to negotiate, the vast majority of scripts would be almost guaranteed to cost their makers more than they would recoup in profit – and that’s why they don’t get made.
At WriteMovies, above all we judge the thousands of submissions we receive on quality of writing – because poorly-written scripts are almost guaranteed to fail anyway. But the deciding factors between our strong contenders are above all based on our assessment of their commercial viability – because we guarantee to pitch them to industry ourselves, we have to take that very seriously! Our contests and processes are designed to mirror the way the industry really works.
We’ll explore the nature of profitability for screenplay writing in the next Challenges.
General tips and feedback:
Many writers, naturally, don’t find it easy to be creative ‘on tap’ – especially for work that they didn’t set themselves. But to write professionally, you will usually need to meet deadlines and requirements, that can’t be put off, for briefs you didn’t choose for yourself: even if you’re ill or feeling down, you’ll usually have to just find a way through, and get the results that are needed, to the quality that’s necessary. So the WriteMovies Creative Challenges are designed to help you find ways around the crucial issues of ‘block’.
We do this by setting a (deceptively!) simple brief, and encouraging you to use a variety of methods, approaches and creative products in order to find ways around it, and generate some kind of outcomes that might be useful to you in the future. Whatever state your mind and mood are in – energetic or tired, stimulated or bored, motivated or disengaged, etc – there are different ‘modes’ of creative productivity which you can engage, to make the best of it: editing your work if you can’t write, making notes if you can’t generate script, etc. Try a mix of methods to make the most of activities such as the Creative Challenges, especially anytime you get stuck: just keep adding notes, sketches etc freely, you can decide later whether any of them are useful! Also note that the brief is to ‘prepare’ a creative work – not to actually make it straight away, before you feel ready to! But if you’ve come away from this with a passage of prose or script or even poetry, well done!
Hopefully this activity will have shown you the potential value of our Creative Challenges, and the benefits of making a routine to complete them, and persisting with it day by day to gradually improve all aspects of your writing and to develop solutions to ‘block’, that you will become more and more proficient with over time. We recommend that you commit to fulfilling the 100-Day Creative Challenges, sharing your outputs to gain the support and feedback of other writers working on the same activities, and if you’d like expert daily feedback from us on this and much more, additional material, subscribe to the WriteMovies Academy Lite now!