Right now, I'm on a farm... in the middle of nowhere. I'm not going to get in to why I'm in the middle of nowhere on a farm, but I'm here all week, back home on Sunday. During the day out here, it's just me... and the horse, the goats, the chickens, hens, dogs and, what appears to be a mild gopher problem. Now, if you're wondering, I'm not originally from farm country, so I'm not visiting my parents or anything like that. This is very foreign to me. I'm a city guy and my parents are city people. Regardless, here I am, alone... in a 100 year old farm house. My plan is to get a lot of work done while I'm down here, plus get caught up on some indie horror... Another goal is to get started on a new screenplay, as I've got the time and I can only procrastinate out here for so long. So, I'm laying the groundwork, drafting some character sketches and working on a treatment... but being out here got me thinking.
Now, I'm not really in the middle of nowhere, I'm around 45 minutes to an hour South of Portland. So, it's not like I needed to be choppered in here or anything. The GPS in my car found it without any issue and I'm 20 minutes from a Target. Really, this is what the bulk of the country is like - mass, sprawling suburbia. Land of strip malls. What I find really interesting about out here is, they really only consume mass media... if it's not on a major network TV or playing at the local movie theater, it's independent, 'out there' or niche. So, you can imagine the looks on people's faces here when I talk about micro-cinema horror. They laugh... and I mean, they laugh and point, like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears.
For a lot of us, who cares? If you're making a small, micro-cinema horror film, you're not catering to these people. Success may be getting in to an indie horror festival, selling a few DVD's, breaking into the indie scene and making enough money to make another film. For most indie filmmakers, that's the case and all you need to do is to reach a small sub-sect of a big market. Don't cater to the masses, make the film you want. However, what if you're a screenwriter? Truth is, as a screenwriter, technically, what you create is not a finished product. You're coming up with an idea and trying to sell that idea to someone, someone who will either buy it and make it, or give you the money to make it... or something in between. Long and short, when you're writing, you're trying to sell someone on an idea.
The way I look at it, in life, you're always selling, really. You're selling yourself to an employer, you're selling a product, you're selling your script, you're selling an idea, you're selling your movie, whatever... we're always selling, whether you know it or not. In sales, they say that the most important trait to have is empathy... and it's something that doesn't come easy to most people, but should come easy to filmmakers and writers. What's empathy? Empathy, which literally translates as 'in feeling', is the capability to share and understand another's emotions and feelings. It is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes". Why's that important? Well, think about it, if you're making a film for just you and your buddies to watch, great. Make something that just you guys like. However, if you're trying to reach a bigger audience, you need to think about what they'd like. What they'd ALL like. As they say, people don't like to be sold, but they do like to buy. So, create something that they like and they'll buy it... and you need empathy to create something that they'll like.
Anyhow, those are the thoughts that are swirling in my head, as I sit here in this 100 year old farmhouse, flushing out my ideas. Do I go balls out and write some fucked up story that only a small group of people will actually enjoy or do I write something that caters to the masses? Chances are, now, I'll go somewhere in between... I'd like it to be something that would have some sort of mass appeal, but I can't do PG-13 Hollywood pablum for the masses, it's just not my style. What to do? I don't know, maybe I'll just sit back and catch up on some indie horror and think about it some more... who says it's tough to procrastinate out here?
Been there many times, man. It's a lonely lonely place and neither choice seems great.
So I'd flip a coin. Let destiny choose.
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