We're back. Sorry it has taken us so long between posts. After our first year in operation, we have been hastily teaching ourselves Quickbooks and studying the differences between why we can write off one meal, but not the next. Why this receipt goes in meals and entertainment but the next one goes in travel expenses. Basically, the glitz and glamor we imagined when we opened a production company. It is fair to say that I have a new found respect for my accountant wife (unfortunately not tax specialty). It is also fair to say that I don't want to change jobs with her.
But I digress. What I really want to talk about is a valuable lesson Dustin and I learned when we were in LA a couple weeks ago. That is the concept of building your brand as a screenwriter. We had a wonderful meeting with a well respected management company that had read our contest winning script, Bloodlines. Bloodlines is an Epic Fantasy, so we knew we were up against it a little for an introductory script. Epic Fantasy was not our ideal choice to go out on the town with, but you do what you need to do to win a competition. We were still feeling confident though because we had two other highly rated scripts that had also done well in contests.
The meeting was going along just fine. We talked about Bloodlines. We pitched him our two other completed scripts. He even asked what we were planning on writing next. So we pitched him a high concept comedy, that has received favorable buzz. He liked the idea, laughed along with us and even started offering suggestions on where the story could go. Then we heard this:
I like your guys ideas, but here is the problem I have as a manager. You have too many different genres. You have an Epic Fantasy, an Action/Thriller, a zombie movie and now you're talking about a comedy. I cannot take an introductory script out on the market and have everyone think, "Wow, those guys write great action" and then follow up with a comedy. It confuses people. I know people don't like to be pigeon holed, but we have to to get you in the door.
The moment he said it, it made perfect sense to us. We always thought we were within brand because our scripts shared the same theme of brooding anti-hero with an impressive amount of action. We thought we were doubling our odds since we were knocking it out of the park in multiple genres. But it doesn't work that way. Someone who could be interested in your action script probably has no interest in a comedy. That is not what they do. So how are you supposed to build an on-going relationship with them? Think of it this way. What would you think if a manager came to you and said "I have a hot new script from the writer of Taken. It's a musical."? That could be the greatest musical ever written (and Robert Mark Kamen is a very talented writer) but how many people are going to jump out of their chairs for that? Now take away Robert Mark Kamen's pull and replace him with your, as of yet, unknown name. That's a tough road you have built for yourself.
I'll leave you with the question we were asked in the meeting. If you were able to write just one thing, one genre, and that would make you happy, which genre would it be? Answer that question, and you have your brand to build on.