Movie Marketing

January 31, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: movies

090119_r18129_p233.jpg The New Yorker ran a great article by Tad Friend profiling Tim Palen, Lionsgate’s co-president of theatrical marketing.

While most artists find the idea of marketing reprehensible, there would be no films to market if they couldn’t occasionally sell them to the audience. Film marketing is no less sophisticated than the marketing of any other product. Starting, of course, with identifying who they are going to sell to.

Marketers segment the audience in a variety of ways, but the most common form of partition is the four quadrants: men under twenty-five; older men; women under twenty-five; older women. A studio rarely makes a film that it doesn’t expect will succeed with at least two quadrants, and a film’s budget is usually directly related to the number of quadrants it is anticipated to reach.

The list of qualities that each segment responds to looks for was really interesting as well.

The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, ‘you’re so gay’ banter, and sex — but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance — but not sex.

What’s the segment of death? You might expect older women. You’d be wrong.

Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars.

Nope. It’s the lazy older guys.

“Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’” the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”

Since I’m in that demographic, but obviously see more films than two a year, we know that these things are generalizations. But, cliché’s come from somewhere. I now know I’m more likely to respond to marketing of a film if it has Clint Eastwood in it.

Charlie Kaufman on avoiding movie tropes

January 30, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: inspiration

When Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came out, Charlie Kaufman sat down with Charlie Rose for a rare interview. The interview is great, and his honesty and straightforwardness are admirable, and very possibly why he doesn’t give more interviews.

The money quote in this is when he’s talking about his approach to writing a romance (at 5:21 in the video):

I have this adverse reaction to Hollywood romances. They’ve been very damaging to me growing up, I feel. And I had these expectations in the world of what my life was going to be like and what my romantic life was going to be like. And as I got older and I realized my life wasn’t like that that, you know, it became depressing, and then I thought that real life was more interesting and maybe I should try to explore that and not put more damaging stuff into the world.

I’m always sort of trying to think “What is true?” — I mean, true to me, which is all I know — and try to reject ideas which come from other movies. Which is a very hard to do — because you often don’t know that your ideas of a scene or relationship come from movies not from your real life. You have to sit down and go “Wait a minute. Why are these two people people acting like this? It doesn’t have to do anything with what I understand.” And so I try to sort of find those things, take them out, and put in things I understand.

Here’s Part 1:

Part 2, which doesn’t allow embedding, is available here.

Re: What Now?

January 30, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: About

What now indeed. Mr. Beeson brought up a number of thoughts in his last post, which I will attempt to address here:

If it’s okay with Martin, I feel comfortable with talking about the projects we’re working on, or at least certain parts or aspects of them.

Sure, that’s fine. I trust you, sir, to judge what info should be public and what shouldn’t be. I’ll do the same.

And the link to execution-as-multiplier post on Spitball! is here.

To the next story writing competition, The Big Game, I say yes. I loved that process, and it worked well online. As the kids say, bring it.

Now then, how often will I post to the site? Remains to be seen. I’m not going to set goals for myself, since my schedule is unpredictable and inevitably something will get in the way, but my goal is fairly often. Subscribe to our feed and let it tell you when something new is on Spitball!

What Now?

January 29, 2009 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: About

So yeah, what now? What does Spitball! mean in 2009?

17 Months Off

January 29, 2009 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category:

Wow -- we're really doing this, huh? I really have to learn how to use Ecto again?

Actually, I'm very excited to restart Spitball!, or as I think of it, Spitball! 2.0. The original Spitball! had a great premise, but one that simply wasn't going to live up to its potential, at least not with me. Or more accurately, not that me at that time. As Martin said earlier, in 2006 and 2007 we were still learning how to work together, and one thing we learned definitively is that I (and maybe Martin, but definitely I) need to work face-to-face. The written word is a great form of communication, but there's still too much ambiguity and too much time delay this way, causing problems that are easily solved (or wouldn't exist) when talking directly to my writing partner. So fuck this wack experiment in my opinion. (Apologies to the Cinemasters crew.)

So here's what's been happening lately.

The Collection at the Beginning of Creative Process

January 29, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: technique

I’m always fascinated with the process of creative types. Because, of course, it might teach me something about my own process which has been doggedly formed from ignorant persistence. I long for some sort of validation that I’m doing it “right” (make of that what you will, psychology buffs).

Merlin Mann has been digging into process, and I think his Macworld presentation Towards Patterns for Creativity was interesting beyond his charismatic manitude.

He talks about Twyla Tharp and her book The Creative Habit (haven’t read it yet. Definitely on my list). Tharp starts each project with a box that she collects loose items associated with the choreography she’s creating. The box gets filled in a loose association and inspiration gathering, and then when it’s time to work it serves as muse and inspiration.

The Resurrection

January 28, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: About

What does it take to kill an idea? Lack of momentum, for one. Mr. Shockah and I stopped writing on this blog about a year-and-a-half ago. Why?

The answer is long and in depth, but one of us has a kid, the other has a demanding job, and we both felt that we’d rather put our time into actually writing screenplays rather than writing about writing screenplays.

Also, I think we can safely say, the experiment was a failure. By which I mean in the best sense — the Beckett sense of “No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

The truth is, we work better in person when we’re bouncing ideas off one another. We’re still experimenting with our process, but I can safely say it will not be by writing to each other about the act of writing. See a pattern here?