I posted the above on Twitter last week.
Every day, my inbox gets hit with Writer’s Store emails which are usually along the lines of ‘what Hollywood readers want to see’, ‘a do and don’t list for getting an agent’ and so on. And there are no shortage of ‘what broadcasters/distributors/etc are looking for’ articles in our trade magazines and across websites everywhere.
Are they helpful?
Perhaps, in a few isolated cases. If, for example, you desperately want your show on one particular channel above all others and their commissioner hates shows about manitees, it’s good to know that in advance so you can change all your manitees to dugongs or something. That’s helpful. Although it doesn’t mean they’ll like your show.
If you find out that every single broadcaster on the planet has a rule about not showing bellybuttons, it’s good to know things like that too. Doing research on who you’re selling to is important and it is to be recommended.
But really, it comes down to what it says in that image above – it’s all just opinion. Broadcasters, distributors and so on very rarely agree on what they want. You will never please all of them. You won’t even be able to please most of them. Trying will likely only result in an unfocused compromised mess as you create not a show but a checklist with characters (unless some broadcaster somewhere doesn’t want characters this year). And as you create that checklist, you will have neglected to please those who really matter: your audience. Your actual end users. In my world, that’s children.
You may also end up neglecting one other person: yourself.
Our industries are tough at the best of times. If you personally are not passionate about what you’re making, chances are you won’t see it through.
You have to go with your passion. You have to make something you love.
Do you want to know what broadcasters want?
What they really want?
They’re the same as everyone else – they just want something they’ll love. It’s as basic as that. Oh they may have opinions on what they like and don’t like but if they really knew what that thing was, that one thing they’ll love, they’d create it themselves. They’d take it to a producer they know and outline the entire show. But that’s not how they work. It’s not how we work. Most of the time, we just connect with something when we see it. Or we don’t. Usually it’s a surprise rather than something that just fulfils a list of desires we already knew we had.
So you’ve just got to create something you love. Something you think your audience, your real audience, will love and something that the world needs. Something you can feel strong about – because you will need to be strong.
And then you have to put it out there and hope that someone else loves it too. If they do, if they really connect with it and really love it, every rule they ever made about what they want or don’t want will get thrown out right then and there.