Let’s say you’re on a road trip. You’re a few hours into the trip and you’re becoming restless. You’ve either stopped listening to the radio or aren’t that impressed with what you’ve been hearing so far, so you flip stations. You’ve made it through every channel and nothing good is on, so you decide to go back and just “deal” with whatever station until a new song comes on.
In terms of where you stop, what are you most likely to do? Stop on that familiar or favorite station, or pick one you’ve never listened to or listen to rarely? In terms of singers, would you stop at one you know (no matter the song), or take a shot at stopping on a person you’ve never heard of before?
I think when we are “desperate” (so to speak) to find something on the radio, I’d have a hard time believing that many people out there would stop at that unfamiliar station or take a chance with that unfamiliar artist. I’m sure some would, but when you’re at that point in the road trip where the time and miles seem to start slowing down and you need a little help, many of us would understandably stick with something we’re familiar with.
Even if that familiar song is “Ice Ice Baby” for twentieth time. Actually, I probably shouldn’t have admitted that one.
Goodness. Now that damn tune will be in my head for the rest of the day. Anyway, let’s talk about movies. What do you think about them today? A better question would be, what’s your preference? Not necessarily the genre, but when you’re ready to hit the theater, what are you in the mood for? The type that you’re familiar with, or would you be willing to take a chance on something less familiar? Be honest with yourself.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to stay with what’s familiar. We do it every day. Life is complicated enough and many of us simply don’t have the time to try a whole lot of “new” this and that. When you’re ready to go out and eat, if you aren’t starving, you may try something new. If you are, then you want a place where you know what you’re getting. Staying in your comfort zone isn’t always a bad thing.
I am an aspiring screenwriter. I have written a few screenplays of what I feel are “original” ideas and I’m working on an original project right now.
I also know the reality of what I’m trying to do and where I’m sitting, at least for right now. Unless you are a friend or family member, you don’t know me. In having the choice between going to see a movie that I’ve written, or one written by that one dude, I think his name is something like, I don’t know…STEVEN SPIELBERG, who would you choose?
I know I picked a hell of a person to line myself up with, but that’s the way it is. Many times, yes, there are complaints about how movies are these days and how they often lack originality, but here’s my question: Does they still work? Are these movies still enough to get you into the theater?
As an aspiring screenwriter, I’m researching something on screenwriting just about every day as I write. One thing I’ve discovered is that despite the complaints about the lack of “original” movies, it’s the familiarity of these very same movies that keep people coming. How about those remakes? The sequels of movies from twenty and thirty years ago? Same thing. Many may fuss, but since we already sort of know what we’re going to get, even that remake, 20+ years-later-sequel, or rehashed idea still seems to have a leg up on those of us pitiful souls just trying get someone to read one of our screenplays for the very first time.
Is this frustrating for someone like me? Yes and no.
YES…because there’s always that feeling that I’m not getting a fair chance simply because people don’t know who I am. On top of that, when others are frustrated at the quality of some of today’s movies, that could make it even more difficult for me. In other words, a person complains about a movie that someone he or she knows wrote. If they’re that unhappy and they actually KNOW the writer, how much more attractive would I be, as someone they’ve never heard of before? Let’s say you love to go to McDonald’s and one day your experience was just horrible. Food was so poorly prepared that you couldn’t even eat it. Would you leave and go to a restaurant you’ve never heard of before, or go along with a place you’re comfortable with?
And NO…because I do understand. I get it. A lot of things happen in life that are totally unfair, but make perfect sense. If that even makes sense. As an aspiring screenwriter, I’m asking you as a moviegoer to take a chance on me. Not having a clue as to what I’m about and understanding the “commitment” that’s involved with movies, it’s no wonder many wouldn’t want to take that chance. I honestly wouldn’t blame you. I could easily just fuss and berate everyone for not wanting to take that chance on me, but then again, I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same way myself. I have to be fair. You would have to be in an amazing, generous mood to want to go out on a limb on someone you’ve never heard of before.
It’s a weird thing, but again, it makes sense. Think of that person in a dead-end relationship. I’ve talked to many people who have been there and when the question of “Why not just leave?” comes up, the answer is generally the same. Either the familiarity of the relationship or children, if any, is what keeps them there, or they’re afraid of having to start over. As unhappy as they are in the relationship, it is still their comfort zone.
Movies today, however bad some of you feel they are, is still the “comfort zone” of a lot of people. This is why we continue to see movies like these made, as some feel they’re only getting worse.
As for me, I’m not going to call a movie “good” or “bad.” I did that before, but as a writer, I have a different respect for the process and I prefer to be a little more constructive in my assessments. I understand what goes into at least the writing part of it, so I can’t bring myself to say “It’s terrible” or “It’s bad.” Even if it’s a “good” movie, I still feel that I need to be more specific on why I say so.
So what does that mean for me? To keep writing. That’s the only part I have control of and I need to keep at it. When I sit down to write, I have to follow my heart. While I could somewhat easily write what I’m told to if I were on a staff, I’m not quite there yet. It’s best for me to work with what I’m best at, at least at this stage of this journey…
…even if it is that “original” idea that many of you are desperately seeking, but not quite ready to move toward just yet.
I hope that when that day comes, I won’t let any of you down.