Screenwriting : Creativity or Marketability First? by Nadia Carmon

Nadia Carmon

Creativity or Marketability First?

So I wanted to get a sense of how you balance creativity - (The imaginative side of storytelling) with marketability - (How well the story you want to tell resonates with current audiences, trends, sentiments, etc.) when it comes to screenwriting?

I delved into the world of art before I got into marketing & social media. I definitely had an idealistic art-school mentality for a while. I had a passion for creating but no head for business. But as I've been establishing myself in the latter for a few years now, I realize that not fully considering the marketability of old film projects (or other projects) as a whole definitely hurt them.

So I wanted to ask about your own approach:

Does marketing figure at all in your screenwriting?

How do you define marketing when it comes to film - Is it just about digital marketing footprints/distribution, or - Is it also about the actual content of the screenplay and the events therein?

Do you just write the story that you feel is dying to be told without any regard for 'marketing'?

Do you leave the marketing work to whatever film production wants to pick it up?

Or do you conduct marketing research on your topic prior to writing your screenplay?

I'm very interested to hear your thoughts.

Craig D Griffiths

They don’t have to be in opposition to each other. Marketability is just a constraint. You place constraints on yourself all the time.

It is a test of your craft to work within constraints. I would set myself some constraints that may make your work marketable and then see if you can write within them.

And yes. I always consider marketability when I write things I want to sell. Which is about 80% of my work. I have some love jobs. But writing to make a sale is my main aim these days.

Phil Parker

The easiest thing to do is to test your concept on a few people in different age groups. See if it lights a fire in the eyes of the right audience. When it does, write it. If the script is great, and it also lights a fire in the eyes of the people you carefully select to pitch it to, the rest will fall into place. Hopefully.

Dan MaxXx

Nope, just be the screenwriter. Create great characters and worlds - that's the job. Let other folks do their jobs - corporations have Experts w/ Marketing degrees. That's their job to sell.

Nadia Carmon

Lots of great and diverse insight here guys. Thanks!

Dan Guardino

I always shoot of the stars hoping I will be able to sour with the eagles but I usually end up dealing with turkeys.

Doug Nelson

Yeah Dan, it's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by turkeys...ain't it the truth!

Craig D Griffiths

Dan MaxXx Marketing isn't advertising. Marketing is real discipline that focuses on production. Product, Price, Promotion and Position, what should be produced. Which is a decision for a writer. but I digress.

I think a writer must have an idea of the final product of their writing. A writer must have an idea of their target audience. A writer must have this in mind otherwise they are wasting their time.

I could write a fantastic movie about my mum. We would need to rebuild the hotel she worked in so the budget will be about $100m with the massive amount of extras needed. The potential audience is me and my brother. So we would need to cough up 100m each for a ticket to see the film and make a profit for the studio. If I consider writing a marketable script I will shelve this project and consider what will sell.

You can write with no ambition of a sale. That is noble and pushes art forward. Or you can write with a view of getting your vision in front of as many people as possible, by selling your script. The only way to ensure that happens is to consider writing something that has a chance of surviving. Something that is marketable - for your stage of the process. As a writer you must be able to market your work.

Nothing in your script is "another person's job". Everything in that script is your job until someone buys it from you. Then it isn't your script and they can do whatever they want.

Dan MaxXx

Craig D Griffiths what feature movies have you made, and have you ever had any film industry job in the usa? Here on this website, most folks are targeting usa film industry. I don’t know how filmmakers make movies outside usa.

I learned about the 4 P’s interning at Saatchi & Saatchi

Craig D Griffiths

In production in New York as we speak. Primary photography in June/July currently in rehearsal. The film is called “The Hostage” already in place with Amazon.

Thanks for asking.

This was a script I wrote on spec down to a budget. I specifically had marketability in mind when I wrote.

If I don’t have my end users in mind (producers, Director etc) then I will always miss the mark.

Dan MaxXx

Cool. Write a blog documenting your first feature.

Craig D Griffiths

I am getting permission to publish a weekly diary. What a writer can do in a production.

Jim Boston

Nadia, I'm a creativity-first kind of writer. I just want to get the story told.

All the very best to you!

Dan Guardino

I don't do this for the fun of it so I do write what I think there is a market for. However nobody really knows what will sell. All you can do is write the best screenplay you can and hope for the best.

Nadia Carmon

Thanks Jim!

Craig D Griffiths

Going to be blogging this week at my site. There will be a couple of hundred words when stuff happens. First one is about the writing.

Exactly about being marketable.

Tracey Lynn Lloyd

For me, I think it comes at the same time, but I'm not marketing myself to the audience; I'm marketing myself to the industry. At least when it's an original pilot. In a spec (which would be like being a staff writer), I'm definitely marketing to the audience. But I think that when you put your audience in mind, and you resonate with them, you can take them on almost any creative journey.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

I've made a few mistakes but have never regretted anything I've written. I don't intentionally think of commerciality. My concern is telling a story that entertains the person reading it and eventually the person watching it.

Erik A. Jacobson

Since I only shoot micro-budgets, I intentionally tailor my scripts to those budget limitations. No "Charge of the Light Brigade". No expensive effects. To succeed, marketing strategy becomes all-important, including the poster, tag lines, music, trailer ideas, and casting choices. I study "Deadline" or other sites where detailed audience breakdowns of films similar to mine are given. It's invaluable information and has led to my changing some key script roles to either Afro-American or Hispanic.

Patricia Zell

The audience is always in the front--I work to tell my stories in a manner that will engage and satisfy viewers. One of the things I do consistently is read negative reviews and also content on what people don't like in movies. Then, I avoid the things they don't like.

Dan MaxXx

Here are Jordan's tweets about marketing his latest movie, "Fast Color". If an Oscar winning producer like him doesn't know, how would rookie screenwriters know more?

Peter Roach

You can only tell the stories you want to tell. My first five scripts were big sci-fi. I was told bluntly, those are good but no one will take a chance on a expensive project with an an unproduced writer.

So now I write small budgeted sci-fi. Still the same message but I curtailed my desire for magnificent to write affordable.

Is that marketing?

Tracey Lynn Lloyd

@danmaxxx Yeah, but it’s the studio marketers’ job to pick the projects that they can market successfully, and then to do what’s necessary. It’s the creative team’s job to help make sure that the right marketing resources are deployed in the right manner. In this case, it was the atudio’s fault for allocating their promotional reaources a certain way, which happens to plenty of amazing properties that are critical successes but don’t make money or get eyeballs. They’ll make it up in licensing, I hope.

Nadia Carmon

Absolutely Peter! You found a niche that works for you and your experience level. I do freelance social media & marketing for small businesses and startups (as well as working full time in this area). Similar to you, I don't have big brand names (Nike, Google, etc) on my portfolio as a freelancer yet, and most of my experience is with smaller brands, anyways...So that is an easy sell for me as far as finding new clients. And thus that is how I've marketed my services; as someone who helps build brands from the ground up.

I imagine there are many of us writers in the same boat. So it's great to know you found a way to circumvent a limited body of work to get your scripts produced.

Nadia Carmon

Love the responses, keep em coming.

Erik, thank you for your reply. I think it's a really smart approach to think of every part of the film as a content strategy, or an opportunity for one.

Benn Flore

It can be a lack of creativity if you don't write marketable and it can be a lack of marketability if you are not creative

Craig D Griffiths

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy I think there is a difference between commercial success and marketable. Thanks for introducing that word into the stream.

I don’t try and write a hit. But what I write must be marketable to its intended audience. It must be able to survive in the market. Budget vs Return and telling a story they want to hear. Marvel is never knocking on my door.

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