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October 11 at 8:32pm

Filmonomics: Thinking in Genres

By Ted Hope

By Colin Brown

We don’t really know how many feature films will end up being made this year – 50,000 seems to be the best global guess – but what we do know is that their genetic make-up will differ in every instance. “Each film has its own DNA,” observed WME agent Mark Ankner, speaking at a recent panel on film packaging organized by Pepperdine University as part of its certification program for film & TV finance. “No two films are alike,” echoed UTA agent Hailey Wierengo, sitting alongside him. “Each has its own unique set of hurdles.

What we also know from DNA science is that even something as complex as the human genome – the sum total of all our hereditary information – boils down to four essential building blocks arranged and packaged in a myriad ways. By mapping those arrangements, we can not only pinpoint the individual signatures of our species in all its glorious variation, but also establish some common characteristics that help in making useful working assumptions.

Xdna-film

And so it is with cinema: academics may argue all they like about the problems that come with labeling films according to shared storytelling elements and milieus, but genre classification is as good a starting point as any right now for determining a project’s prospects. If that project happens to be a mix-and-match of different genres, as so many are these days, then the commercial realities that come with such hybrids need to be acknowledged too.

At their most forensic, some of those commercial realities can make for uncomfortable reading. In a recent New York Times article, former statistics professor Vincent Bruzzese described how his combination of data analysis and focus groups has led to some of the following blunt conclusions: a cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero; bowling scenes tend to pop up in films that fizzle. Bruzzese, who spearheads the Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also makes this bold assertion: “Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned. If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”

Purists will complain that breaking screenplays down this way is the very enemy of creativity. They will argue that cinema, like any artistic endeavor, should not slavishly mimic yesterday’s formulae based simply on what might have worked before. It should all start with the strength of the underlying material and the affecting nature of a story – one that ideally tells something new and surprising. This is all very true, but even outlaws have rules. No matter how killer the script, tough appraisals still need to be done about its likely audience, both at home and aboard. Different regions of the planet have different proclivities – as any territorial analysis of globally released blockbusters will soon tell you  - and different genres come with their own industrial expectations, based on how similar sets of films have performed in the past, particularly at the box office. As a producer, it pays to do all that necessary homework in order to maximize your project’s chance of being made on your chosen terms.

It is only once you have an honest handle on a story’s core appeal that realistic numbers can start being attached along with any additional elements needed to prime that project for greenlight status. As CAA’s Micah Green affirmed in a Variety article about independent film financing: “It is critical to assess the global market’s appetite for a package in advance of budgeting and shopping to financiers. Presenting an unrealistic package or budget can kill a project’s momentum.

Xeconomix-09roibygenre-blog480

Xgenre_interests

 

With all this in mind, filmonomics begins this five-part examination of film packaging with a quick look at how different genres are evaluated in the eyes of industry gatekeepers and tastemakers. Guiding us through that process is Susan Wrubel, the international film consultant who also oversees Slated’s relationships with U.S. distributors, packaging agents, producers, financiers and foreign sales companies.

Just to be clear: such assessments of each genre are not intended as definitive check-lists, but rather as a current snapshot of what film professionals and seasoned investors think when weighing up different types of stories, outside the studio system. Their analysis will have been developed over years of pitch meetings, consultation meetings and project evaluations. For them, each genre comes with its own shifting calculus based on market conditions. Those prisms are then filtered again through their own business mandates and objectives. 

The net result of this triangulation process is that while every genre comes with its own distinct sequencing code, none of it is DNA absolute. Because of the constant trade-offs involved, what you read below works better as a mirror than as a map. One side of the negotiating table should be asking these questions in order to start sizing up a project; the other should come prepared to answer them. Think of it as generic engineering – the intertwining foundations that inform the rest of the packaging process.

DRAMA
Think: script, director, producer, cast, budget level

Xdrama

“Dramas need to have strong packages if they are going to travel (i.e. sell in the international market) and/or break out. Budgets need to be carefully examined as films in this genre are going to be more execution dependent.  Sundance, Telluride and the bigger international festivals are great launch pads for dramatic features at all levels and often films that may be perceived as being smaller really resonate with festival audiences thus creating buzz.”

  • The script needs to be strong.
  • If the director is not experienced, s/he should have some track record such as a strong short film, video work or something else that proves execution ability.
  • Can this director attract talent? If not, does it matter for the story?
  • Is there a strong producer who can help a new filmmaker?  
  • Is the budget level commensurate with the cast wish list?  
  • Is this something that should play major festivals in order to galvanize attention?  

ACTION / THRILLER
Think: budget level, stars, concept

Xaction

“Stars are usually the driving force with bigger action or thriller-based genre films. The director is not as important since this genre is more about concept and actors. However, the director should still make sense for the budget, i.e. no first timers on a $30 million film – unless there is studio behind it, in which case that is a different analysis.”

  • Ancillary value is good on action, and sales agents will usually look at these to assess the film.
  • With the right cast, the project should ‘travel’ and can always be sold together with other films by a sales company.
  • Is the budget realistic and will the material (script) attract a certain level of actor?  
  • Producers, stunts & visual effects teams are crucial.
  • Indie action films like ONG BOK or THE RAID became international sensations due to their fast-paced, choreographed fight-scenes that “broke the mold” at international markets, and these are great examples of low budget action that worked.

HORROR / SUSPENSE
Think: script, budget, director 
 

Xhorror

“The cast not necessarily as important on a horror film and budgets tend be lower. But it has to be director-driven and well executed.”

  • Script needs to be tight and make sense.
  • Is it scary/high-concept?  
  • Ancillary value is usually good on horror and it can travel.  
  • Again, if the director is not proven, there should be a strong experienced producer to help shepherd the project.
  • Is this one that can make festival midnight sections?  Is it one to promote at Comic-Con?
  • Can you build audience through actors with massive followings?   

COMEDY
Think: script, director, actors

Xcomedy

“The budget really needs to be commensurate with cast, and unless there are mega-stars involved then the likelihood is that this may not be something that will pre-sell abroad. Individual countries have very different sensibilities as to comedy.”

  • The concept should be strong.  
  • Can the director attract meaningful actors?  
  • Will this comedy translate abroad?  
  • Wedding-themed films tend to be strong sells. 

DOCUMENTARY
Think: subject matter, director/producing/editing team

Xdoco

“The norm for documentary budgets is usually $1 million or less.  Above that, what is attained for the budget level?”

  • Access to footage or subject.  
  • Can the director tell a story that is more than talking heads?
  • Is the subject matter topical and engaging?  
  • Is there a core audience and a way to access them?  
  • What is the ultimate goal for the film: theatrical perhaps, or just VOD and TV?

FAMILY
Think: concept, execution, team in place

Xfamily

“Who is the audience exactly and is there a marketing plan that discusses how to reach them?”

  • Will the film have theatrical appeal or is it something more for DVD/VOD/TV?
  • Is there franchise potential or underlying familiar material that makes this more relevant?
  • Is the story universal enough that it can work domestically and internationally?

SCI-FI / FANTASY
Think: concept, team in place

Xsci

“This is usually a genre that excites foreign sales companies, as long as they can believe in the concept, pitch and execution.”

  • The visual effects partner involved is key and will also dictate the budget somewhat.
  • Is this high-concept enough to be a broad film?  
  • Has the director done sci-fi before? 
  • Is the film cast dependent? And if so, can the director attract necessary actors?
  • Can it be made for a price (i.e. a controlled budget)?

ROMANCE
Think: director and star-driven

 Xromance

“Who specifically is the audience: is this a teen story, an adult story or something that speaks to multi-generations?”  

  • Is this sweeping and broad, or small and intimate?  
  • Will the romance translate internationally and, if so, who are the actors and can they travel?
  • How sexy/racy is it?  
  • Can the director execute and attract necessary talent?  
  • Is budget commensurate with cast?
  • Is this based on pre-existing material?

FAITH-BASED
Think: subject matter, core audience, ancillary value

Xfaith

“The cast is not usually as key in faith-based films. However, with a great name, the film could have cross-over potential (i.e. the film could appeal to audiences that enjoy other genres too) depending on subject-matter and execution.”

  • Is there a comprehensive grass-roots plan to reach the core audience
  • Director not as important: s/he just needs to be competent and tell a good story.  
  • Budgets should be modest, particularly where there are no star names attached.
  • Does the story have international appeal?

ANIMATION
Think: audience, team, animation-style
 

Xanimation

“Depending on the subject matter, animation can travel. But, again, indie animation is a tough proposition due to the high costs associated with the genre. Does the film have the chance to walk into a studio?”

  • Where is the animation being done and what experience do the animators have?  
  • Is there a certain look or style to the animation?  
  • Is there studio involvement?
  • Is there underlying material that makes this project relevant?  
  • Is there franchise potential?  

MUSICAL
Think: concept, subject matter, audience, music rights

 Xmusicals

“The budget should be commensurate with the breadth and scope of the film. It is key that there is a realistic number in the budget for clearances if the music is not original. If the music is original, what is the hook to get people in to see the film? Or will it be a festival darling just like ONCE?”

  • Is the music known and pre-existing?
  • If so, are all clearances in place?  
  • Who is this targeted towards?  
  • Is there an international audience for the music?  
  • What level of talent will be attached: singers only or actors who sing?
  • Will this be kids and adults?  
  • Soundtrack potential?

WESTERN
Think: director, cast, execution

Xwestern

“If executed properly, hewing to the genre’s traditions, Westerns can still attract attention. They remain a challenge abroad. However, with a highly rated director, some great acting choices, and not to mention a great story, these might travel.”  

  • The story should be classic and yet unique. Since Westerns follow a certain format and tend to be larger in scope; indie Westerns tend to be tougher sells.
  • Will the film appeal to festivals that can help create buzz?
  • Is this a director who is comfortable in the genre and who can attract a meaningful cast?

In next week’s installment on film packaging, filmonomics will look at the key considerations that surround the budgeting of independent film projects, followed by installments on assessing films by castdirectorsproducers, and financing structures.


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14 Comments

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  1. Out in the Street Films / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    50,000 films, each as s as different as human DNA; and classification into 12 genres is the starting point? I don’t think so. You’ve hit on the reason why indie film doesn’t work in the traditional industry, and it’s not the filmmakers’ problem. It’s the industry’s problem. All filmmakers have to do is to ignore such generalized genre classifications and find their own audience. If they can’t do that, then yes, they may need to go back and do something that will gain an audience. And in that case, I would agree, genre may be a starting point at the very onset of writing or re-writing. But not as the target for what the film will be. Audiences aren’t looking for genre. They looking for what moves them, and that goes back to human DNA.

    This genre model is based on what a corporate movie industry wants to see, not what audiences want to buy. The thinking is backwards and obsolete. Even if filmmakers fit into genres, they are better off with a lottery ticket in terms of making a living at this model, unless they are willing to succumb to corporate dictation, in which case they become just another wage slave working for the man.

  2. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Hi OITS,

    Not sure I would agree with this comment…?

    ie – If you think in terms of probabilities, 50% (10/20) of the top 20 RoI films are Horror. And none of them are Drama. (And 7 of the Bottom 20 RoI, ie Biggest Money Losers) are Drama.
    This is all just an example of course. There are 30 x things the Top 20 RoI share in their story / film `DNA’… I think since 7 in 10 films lose money and 98% of screenplays go unmade, filmmakers ignore them at their peril. (But they are of course free to ignore them… free will is a beautiful thing, etc…)

    The problem is, this scientific knowledge about film is all new. ie – 2013.

    Also, just as an interesting aside – human DNA is, all, incredibly-similar. We’re all descended from the same 17 x people, from the Pleistocene Era. (And amusingly, 98% of it is also the same as: a chimp’s.)
    Also – most of it (DNA) is the same as all Life on Earth,

    - If you have time, (or the inclination) please do take a look at this site – you might also find it interesting: http://storyality.wordpress.com/ (the Index is perhaps a good guide)

    It’s my doctoral research project, on the common elements (the common `Film Story DNA’ – etc) in the Top 20 RoI Films of all time.

    Most of the widespread assumptions about filmmaking, the film industry – and in fact – Creativity – are wrong. We’re just coming out of the dark ages with all this.
    Most of the Screenwriting Convention is also, empirically wrong. See the data in my thesis/that StoryAlity site.
    There’s quite a lot of crossover with many (excellent) points made in this article.

    This one is a particularly good post:
    On Consilience and Creativity:
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/storyality-71-consilience-is-coming-read-all-about-it/

    Feel free to disagree, of course. (And criticism helps us all get closer to the truth.)
    (I’ve spent 20 years thinking about this research problem – and those Film Domain problems. 17 of the top 20 RoI films are independent films, and yet – counter-intuitively, they are all remarkably-similar.
    In fact – they’re identical (storywise) – in over 30 ways.

    I know many theorists like to suggest each successful film is a beautiful and unique snowflake. But every unsuccessful film is also an `ugly and unique snowflake’. But in fact if you group them together (the successful ones, and the unsuccessful ones, some very clear patterns emerge.)

    And – 70% of films `fail ‘(ie – to reach an audience/and therefore, turn a profit.) Makes it all harder to make subsequent films… Anything that makes filmmaking easier (makes the odds better, for film creatives) has to be a good thing.

    All just my $0.02 :)

    Best,
    JT
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/

  3. Out in the Street Films / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Thank you Einstein,

    Based on your comment, the reference to DNA is somewhat meaningless, which is kind of my point. If everything boils down to 12 genres, it’s a mute point that there are 50,000 different versions of the 12.

    It’s interesting that you add disclaimers that all of this is evolving, that we’re still in the dark ages, that scientific knowledge of film is new. All that kind of makes your entire post worth a grain of salt. Have you any similar research on music?

    I guess you are saying many films (snowflakes) are not in the 12 and therefore fail. Your definition of failure is based on profit. For any endeavor, any kind of failure is a success, in that it teaches. But you also say in the human DNA analogy that we all evolve from a few. So this would indicate that’s it’s not a story problem. It’s a marketing problem. Probably most indie films fit into the 12 listed genres and like DNA they can all be tied back to one of the few genres the corporate film world so loves.

    The post above has to list the rules associated with those genres. Are you kidding me? Rules? And yet if you study those rules, you can see they are not really about adhering to a genre. They are more about finding an audience.

    Forget genre. Just take all those rules and list them together , and use them to find your audience. This idea of having to label everything is moronic. It serves no purpose. You can’t measure artist endeavor with scientific methods, just as you can’t effectively measure any abstract concept with science, like love or God for example. You’ve been making these measurements for years and yet we’re still in the dark ages. What’s the point?

    I don’t think the problem indie filmmakers face is that they work outside of established genres. The problem is the opposite. Filmmakers force their ideas into established genres based on fear generated by posts like this one. If musicians did that there would be no rock, no grunge, no new wave, no hip hop, no rap, no punk. And what would you call Madonna, Miley, or Gaga? They wouldn’t exist either.

    The successes of these artists is their originality, uniqueness, individuality, and pure balls to go against the grain. My point is that filmmakers have to grow a pair and do what musicians do. Filmmakers should strive to be rock stars, not corporate yes men. The reason they fail financially isn’t because they don’t fit into established markets. It is because they do fit into them and can’t compete with studios. But they can’t sell films if they don’t have a following of people to sell to (regardless of genre or not), because if they did, they would not need the markets. The technology exists for filmmakers to sell direct and cut out the middle market.

    In this face paced world of evolving technology where things become obsolete within two years, I find it hard to attach much relevance to years of research, despite whatever doctorate scholars are involved. Any empirical data more than a year old is obsolete. Any data recorded now will be obsolete in a year.

    This isn’t about research and analysis. You can’t research a moving target. This about logic, common sense, and the historical precedent of a medium like music that’s been successful in hundreds of genres, beginning at least 400 years ago with the classics. It’s about art. Is all modern art categorized in genre? Would you tell an artist that to be successful they have to create only inside a certain genre and by certain genre rules? That is deadly advice.

  4. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Hi OITS

    Einstein here. – Wow, there’s so much wrong in the above Comment-Reply, I don’t know where to start.
    Congrats, I think you’ve set some kind of world record for wrongness.
    (Firstly though, given the sarcasm – eg “Thank you Einstein”) sounds like, somebody needs a hug. (Happy to oblige. BTW just for you, it’s: $40. LOL.)

    Okay so – let’s work through this nonsense, point-by-point:

    (1) You say: Based on your comment, the reference to DNA is somewhat meaningless, which is kind of my point. If everything boils down to 12 genres, it’s a mute point that there are 50,000 different versions of the 12.

    (A) I think you mean `moot’ point? `Mute point’ would mean – You should now be vewy vewy quiet, while I correct all your points.
    - No, the DNA thing isn’t meaningless. – All the top 20 RoI films share the same story-DNA. The differences are really small. The common elements? About 30. – If you miss them all, your film has less likelihood of going viral. (Up to you. – What do I care if *your* film loses money? Join the 70%.) On the other hand – if you want to benefit from the research, then read it – and use it to help yourself. (http://storyality.wordpress.com/)
    But none of what you say about Colin’s (excellent) article is right.

    (2) You say: It’s interesting that you add disclaimers that all of this is evolving, that we’re still in the dark ages, that scientific knowledge of film is new. All that kind of makes your entire post worth a grain of salt. Have you any similar research on music?

    (A) How did you *possibly* interpret my saying “The problem is, this scientific knowledge about film is all new. ie – 2013.” as a Disclaimer? – It’s not a Disclaimer. It never *was* a Disclaimer. It’s just a point that you’re still: missing. – An equivalent point would be, in 1859, Darwin published The Origin Of Species: In 1860 the problem was, this: “The problem is, this scientific knowledge about film is all new. ie – 1859.” The problem is – because it’s new, it shocks/stuns a lot of people – as it contradicts all the old (unscientific) knowledge. *That’s* the problem.
    So – it’s not a Disclaimer, never was a Disclaimer – and never could be a Disclaimer. – It’s a simple statement of fact. This knowledge is: all new. (It’s still *correct*.)
    And so – some people – like you – have trouble getting their heads round it. (And – that’s fine, keep right on truckin’, with your old outdated knowledge, – Nobody Really Cares, right?)

    (3) You said: “You’re post is worth 2 cents? I spent 30 minutes to read it. You owe me $40.”
    (A) Wow, if you’re talking about my Comment, or any one of my 100 x blog posts – you’re a realllllly slow reader. 30 minutes? Again with the record-setting – Congrats. That’s the slowest I’ve ever heard of anyone reading. (It’s not my fault you can’t read so good, bub. Maybe try not moving your lips when you read or something, I’m told that helps,)
    (PS – And – BTW let’s descend into ad hominem attacks and sarcasm, shall we? eg: `Thank you Einstein’ (LOL.) This is exactly what happened when people read `The Origin of Species’ and didn’t like it, BTW. But – just because you don’t like it – doesn’t mean you’re right.) You really need to read this:
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/storyality-71-consilience-is-coming-read-all-about-it/

    (4) You said: I guess you are saying many films (snowflakes) are not in the 12 and therefore fail.
    (A) Huh? – How did you ever come to this conclusion? No – I never said (nor ever implied) that. Mainly as: that’s plain wrong. Your guess was wrong. Let me spell it out: The most successful (viral films/snowflakes) all have 30 things in common. The bottom 20 (least viral films/ugly snowflakes) don’t do all those things. That’s what I said. Colin’s article has a lot of crossover with that. (He lists sevesal of the top 20 RoI films above.)

    (5) You said: Your definition of failure is based on profit.
    (A) Not exactly, no. – My definition of `success’ is: If a film goes viral, in the culture. Due to word-of-mouth. Which is due to the Story. Part of which is Genre, but – so what? The only Genre to `avoid’ is Drama as its the riskiest. – If it goes viral, it is then more likely to make a profit (as more people pay money to see it). Also – if your film makes a profit – it is then a whole lot easier to make: your next film. So – this scientific knowledge is for filmmakers, who want a sustainable career. Given that it takes around 10 years to learn `everything you need to know’, to be able to then make a `viral’ film (if you want to think of it purely in terms of profit, or `breaking even’, then sure, go ahead. But that’s not the point: The point is – the Story makes any film go viral (or, not. ie a Bad story will not go viral.)). Also – Why spend 10 years learning how to be a filmmaker/screen storyteller – only to have your first film, fail? (And – many people who do that, never get to make a 2nd – let alone, a 3rd film)… Do you see?

    (6) You say: For any endeavor, any kind of failure is a success, in that it teaches. But you also say in the human DNA analogy that we all evolve from a few. So this would indicate that’s it’s not a story problem. It’s a marketing problem.

    (A) If you really think `failure’ = `success’, given how much films cost to make, then – I sure hope you have a money tree. Good luck with all that.

    (7) You said: Probably most indie films fit into the 12 listed genres and like DNA they can all be tied back to one of the few genres the corporate film world so loves.

    (A) This statement of yours above is a wild guess. What I suggest you do, is: some actual work, some scientific research on this. There are 500,000 feature films in existence, I suggest you collect all the indie ones up, and work out what Genres they are (and – most films since the 1970′s are hybrid-genre films, so – good luck with that.) Then – once you have the data, and have drawn your conclusions, I would very much like to see it all. Until then (since, neither of us has catalogued the 500,000 films, into Genres) this is a meaningless argument. ie – Just one random guy’s opinion (ie yours.) – We simply don’t know that. (What Genres all the indie films are.) So – Why don’t you research it? It would benefit filmmakers. (Almost everyone is like the woodcutter-dude frantically trying to chop down a tree, with a very-blunt axe… “I don’t have time to sharpen my axe, I need to chop down these trees!!”) – Go do some research.

    (8) The post above has to list the rules associated with those genres. Are you kidding me? Rules? And yet if you study those rules, you can see they are not really about adhering to a genre. They are more about finding an audience.

    (A) What on Earth are you talking about? Colin Brown has written an excellent article here – and first of all, Colin hasn’t listed `Rules’. – He’s added some very intelligent Questions about each specific film, within a Genre. He’s hardly added “Rules”. Rules would be like, “A Western needs a hero/s, villains, gunplay, a woman/love interest, horses, rural landscapes, the frontier” etc. And `Rules’ is a dumb word anyway, rules are guidelines. You need to read about Agency and Structure in Film:
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/storyality-43-on-agency-and-structure-in-screenwriting/

    And you don’t seem to understand how (film) Culture evolves either, which means just like genes combine in biology, genres combine in film. Read this:
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/storyality-44-biological-evolution-cultural-evolution-and-creativity-film/

    (9) You said: Forget genre. Just take all those rules and list them together , and use them to find your audience. This idea of having to label everything is moronic. It serves no purpose.

    (A) Right, labelling things is moronic. So – the word `cat’ is meaningless. As is `Horror film’. As is “high-RoI/viral film” versus “film flop.” – Let’s outlaw labels, in fact, let’s outlaw language. I’m sure that will help everyone.

    (10) You said: You can’t measure artistic endeavor with scientific methods, just as you can’t effectively measure any abstract concept with science, like love or God for example.

    (A) You’re insane… First you need to read “Great Flicks: Sceintific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics” (DK Simonton, 2011) and then – read this post again: (as it obviously hasn’t yet sunk in. Maybe read it 10 x times.)
    Consilience (ie – Science) in the Study of Film/Creativity
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/storyality-71-consilience-is-coming-read-all-about-it/

    (11) You’ve been making these measurements for years and yet we’re still in the dark ages. What’s the point?
    (A) Nope. I said: I’ve been studying this problem for 20 years. And In 2013 I cracked it. Read my book. (StoryAlity Theory)
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/storyality-67-the-storyality-screenwriting-manual-out-now-on-kindle/
    And I said – we’re *COMING OUT OF* the dark ages. Same as when Darwin published `Origin of Species’.
    By the way: if you really think we “can’t effectively measure any abstract concept with science, like love or God for example” you have a lot of catching up to do. Read the neuroscience on love, and as for God, see: Dawkins, Hitchins, Dennett, Hawking etc. – Sorry to break it to you, but according to Science – there is no God. Watch `The Ledge’ (2011) while you’re at it. (It’s by Darwin’s great grandson Matthew Chapman).

    (12) You said: I don’t think the problem indie filmmakers face is that they work outside of established genres. The problem is the opposite. Filmmakers force their ideas into established genres based on fear generated by posts like this one.

    (A) Oh boy. If you think Colin’s excellent article is `fear-inducing’, you’re putting too much sugar on your cereal.

    (13) You said: If musicians did that there would be no rock, no grunge, no new wave, no hip hop, no rap, no punk. And what would you call Madonna, Miley, or Gaga? They wouldn’t exist either.

    (A) I have no idea how your mind works, or what planet you’re on – but it ain’t this one. Read my stuff about the Evolution of Culture. Any new idea – that goes viral – is a combination of two old ideas that went viral before. Madonna, Miley and Gaga are all “new” versions of old old old ideas. And yes, all this stuff applies to movies, music, art, writing, any creative art form. You’re confused, like most people. You think that your random samplings of culture (as opposed to an empirical and scientific study of culture) give you `evidence’. You’re fooled by randomness. You need to read my entire 100 x blog posts. (it includes a reference to Nassim Taleb’s book. `Fooled By Randomess.’)
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/an-index-to-this-blog/

    (14) You said: The successes of these artists is their originality, uniqueness, individuality, and pure balls to go against the grain.
    (A) Wrong, wrong and wrong. If you did any research you’d realize all these artists are just remixes of old ideas/concepts. Like all popular films. Read my entire blog. It’s a dumbed-down version of my thesis. It will open your eyes. Culture doesn’t work, at all, how you currently think it does.

    (15) You said: My point is that filmmakers have to grow a pair and do what musicians do. Filmmakers should strive to be rock stars, not corporate yes men. The reason they fail financially isn’t because they don’t fit into established markets. It is because they do fit into them and can’t compete with studios. But they can’t sell films if they don’t have a following of people to sell to (regardless of genre or not), because if they did, they would not need the markets. The technology exists for filmmakers to sell direct and cut out the middle market.
    (A) Your point is not backed up by any evidence so far, so I take it, this is all just: your random opinion. Good luck with all that.

    (16) You said: In this face paced world of evolving technology where things become obsolete within two years, I find it hard to attach much relevance to years of research, despite whatever doctorate scholars are involved. Any empirical data more than a year old is obsolete. Any data recorded now will be obsolete in a year.
    (A) You clearly don’t understand what empirical research is, and obviously haven’t even looked at the research. It’s the top 20 RoI films of all time. The figures don’t change. The patterns are clear (across all time). In short – You have no idea what you are talking about. (Sorry.)

    (17) You said: This isn’t about research and analysis. You can’t research a moving target. This is about logic, common sense, and the historical precedent of a medium like music that’s been successful in hundreds of genres, beginning at least 400 years ago with the classics. It’s about art.
    (A) None of your assertions here are backed up with any evidence – (and there is loads of evidence contradicting what you say above) so – I guess it’s more random rambling/ranting. You owe me $80 for wasting my time with your ignorant opinions. Ironically, Music, Art, Film, etc all do work the same way, but – it’s in fact the *exact opposite* of what you keep saying… Read my blog. (Or, don’t, what do I care?) I just don’t like that you’re hating on Colin Brown, with no facts or figures or: actual knowledge here.

    (18) Your said: Is all modern art categorized into genres?
    (A) Yes, yes it is.
    All commercial modern art is. And films are: commerce. They cost money. They make money when they go viral. (or: NOT, when they don’t.)

    (19) You said: Would you tell an artist that to be successful they have to create only inside a certain genre and by certain genre rules? That is deadly advice.

    (A) Yes. They obviously have to work out what their own (preferred) Genre is. It usually takes around 10 years. Then you can combine 2 or more Genres, (if you like) and if it works, you’ve just created your own Genre of art/film/song/whatever.
    The article above by Colin is not “telling anyone to work in a specific genre.” It’s just explaining empirical details about each genre. What about that, don’t you get..?

    Anyway, I expect you’ll want to turn this into a flame-war now (given your leap to sarcasm, in your first Reply… and I still think you need a hug. [For you: it's $40]), so – I’ll `check out’ now…
    Anyway OITS, I’ve tried to help you. – Read all that stuff. You’ll stop struggling so much. Seriously.

    And: stop hating on Colin Brown’s excellent article. Everything you said about it (and about everything, in fact) is demonstrably wrong.
    (And – don’t hate me, for telling you, either. Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.)

    JT

  5. Out in the Street Films / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    What vitriol. I don’t have time for this. Sorry to get under your skin. You seem to be quite judgmental in reciprocating with your perceptions of what’s right with you, and “wrong, wrong, wrong” with me (how many times do you have to tell me I’m flat out wrong? How UN-doctorial. Does the concept of clear conciseness in writing elude you?). And then your “ad hominem” attacks ad nauseum, such as “You’re insane…” (Are you some kind of remote psychic psychoanalyst?). Or how about “Try not moving your lips…” (Now you’re a remote physical therapist.)

    There is no DNA in writing. That is a contrivance. What consensus is there that such a concept is valid. List all the scholastic researchers who confer. And why should anyone put any stock into that? Who has had any success with this? Is it not simply in your imagination at this point?

    Why should I bother to read your stuff is so far I consider it all useless? You haven’t sold it. Show me you became successful with it, besides you selling it to people who think you know what you’re talking about. Maybe you could do a series of infomercials or a set of 19 tapes for $900. Plus if you act now a free Ginsu knife.

    I don’t owe you $80. My writings are each worth 20 times that. They are concise and do not require reading 200 of my blogs. Why else would you have to bother to write a dissertation on them? But you said yours was worth 2 cents. I simply agreed.

    Who is OITS. Too lazy to add an F or spell it out?

    So you cracked it. What did you crack, exactly? I don’t want to read your entire life’s work (or even just ten years worth). I just want to see the one minute trailer without what I perceive as self-contradiction. Just tell me in a sentence (or is that the ROI thing?).

    Are you saying there’s no art to writing? It doesn’t take talent? All it takes is to read your stuff and the magic formula is revealed? So can we now expect to see 50,000 Stephen Spielbergs sometime soon? Sounds a lot like snake oil.

    So you also say there is no God. Is there also no love and no art. It’s easy to say you’ve measured God by saying it doesn’t exist.

    Do you place any stock in William Goldman’s statement that no one in Hollywood knows anything, when he talks about what it takes to write a successful film? Or perhaps he doesn’t exist either. How many successful films have you written?

    Don’t tell me what I hate. I’m not hating on Colin Brown. I’m criticizing him. My point of view is equally valid. Oh wait. I’m wrong wrong wrong, and he’s right right right. I feel like I just read Dick and Jane. See Colin write; right, right right.

    So all modern art is categorized in genres? What genres are Pollock, Lichtenstein, Warhol? How about Mondrian? And you are limited to only 12 genres for all art. Otherwise, you negate Brown’s list above. And you say this applies to music? Then why does music have so many genres? Why are there new ones every decade or more often? Why does film have the same tired old genres decade after decade? And what genre does David Lynch work in? Why isn’t it listed in Brown’s post? Is Lynch not in the top 20 ROI? Does that make him unsuccessful? Doe you think filmmakers don’t want to be the next David Lynch, and they should ignore him? Do you ignore him?

    You don’t understand what you’re talking about. The top 20 ROI mean nothing to a writer. Sure, they are good to read and get ideas from, but so are the next 1000, and so are the bottom 500. It all feeds the writer. But there is no formula for success.

    Show me the filmmakers who used your research and are now successful. How many years shall I wait? Show me the money, not the snake oil.

    I don’t hate, I’m not offended, Mr. remote psychoanalyst. You know nothing about me after reading a few of my lines. I simply criticize and question you as you suggested that I may do. Thank you so much for your permission.

  6. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Hey OITSF

    So – here we go again:

    (1) You said: “What vitriol. I don’t have time for this.”
    (A) Firstly, if it’s vitriol, I wonder why? Er – see your first reply: “Thank you Einstein” (The irony is: As if, that’s some kind of insult…? LOL) Then, you typed up a lengthy reply…?!
    - It seems to me: What you don’t have time for is: being told, exactly where – and why – you’re empirically wrong.

    And – look, even if you take the sarcasm and vitriol out of my 2nd reply (and – it’s only in there cos of the `Einstein’ line, and all the *dripping sarcasm* in your own… ie – we can just talk straight, I much prefer it) — there are, clearly, about 19 x different ways you’re still wrong about Film…

    (2) You said: “Sorry to get under your skin. You seem to be quite judgmental in reciprocating with your perceptions of what’s right with you, and “wrong, wrong, wrong” with me (how many times do you have to tell me I’m flat out wrong? How UN-doctorial.”
    (A) Wrong, wrong, wrong, again-!
    It’s all extremely “doctorial”. (You just made up a new word.)
    - In the Academy, if you are `wrong’ in your research – in any way (Aims, Theory/s, Methodology, Results, Conclusions) you get told about it, *real* quick.
    - This is what Consilience is.
    - In Science – there is a `right’ and a `wrong’.
    Empirical facts don’t lie.
    I am just telling you: your `facts’ are all screwy (in fact you don’t actually seem to *have* any facts, just a bunch of strongly-held opinions. – That’s not `me being judgemental.’ That’s me pointing out: what’s wrong, with what you’re saying. ie Facts.

    Sorry if this seems harsh – I have no time for – or interest in, anyone’s opinion. Opinions don’t work. – They don’t get reliable results. – We all just need: the facts.

    Successful filmmaking is hard. – Don’t make it any harder, by throwing random opinions in. They just distract from the facts, and confuse everyone. Especially, yourself. Colin’s article is helpful, as it contains facts. (And – even, Charts! Awesome.)

    (3) You said: “Does the concept of clear conciseness in writing elude you?).”
    (A) No.

    (4) And then your “ad hominem” attacks ad nauseum, such as “You’re insane…”
    (A) But – that point of yours *was insane!* Completely.
    ie: To go back to it, precisely:
    #(10) You said: “You can’t measure artistic endeavor with scientific methods” just as you can’t effectively measure any abstract concept with science, like love or God for example.
    And then I said:
    (A) If you believe this – you’re insane… First you need to read “Great Flicks: Scientific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics” (DK Simonton, 2011) and then – read this post again: (as it obviously hasn’t yet sunk in. Maybe read it 10 x times.)
    Consilience (ie – Science) in the Study of Film/Creativity
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/storyality-71-consilience-is-coming-read-all-about-it/

    ie – If you think we “can’t measure artistic endeavour empirically”, then, for 1 thing – why is there a journal called “Empirical Study of the Arts”? (It started in 1983.)
    http://www.baywood.com/journals/previewjournals.asp?Id=0276-2374
    (I could give about 100 more examples, but one is enough, ie makes the point.)
    ie To be clear: anyone who thinks: “you can’t measure artistic endeavor with scientific methods” is insane.
    Read my book, I have a whole Q&A section on that.
    Also, it’s here:
    FAQ:
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/faq-frequently-asked-questions/
    In short, not only can we, but, we need to do a lot more of it.
    (ie – measure artistic endeavor with scientific methods.)
    That is what `Consilience’ is.

    Read Jon Gottschall’s book on it.

    http://jonathangottschall.com/literature-science-and-a-new-humanities/

    And – EO Wilson’s as well.
    (ie `Consilience’, 1998)

    (5) You said: “(Are you some kind of remote psychic psychoanalyst?). Or how about “Try not moving your lips…” (Now you’re a remote physical therapist.)”

    (A) Well, all brilliant writers are: brilliant psychoanalysts.
    So, I guess, the short answer to your question is: Yes.
    And – let’s also just remember, your snarky/sarcastic comment about: “it took me half an hour to read it. You’ve just wasted my time, you owe me $40.”

    So – Dude. Look in the mirror. Look real hard. You’re the one who’s wasting everyone’s time, by: making totally invalid criticisms of Colin’s excellent article. – Seriously. It’s a great article. None of your criticisms about it, are valid. That’s all I was saying – before you started in, with the insults. :)
    (…As if, calling someone `Einstein’ is actually: an insult. You really need to work on your insults.)

    (6) You said “There is no DNA in writing. That is a contrivance. What consensus is there that such a concept is valid. List all the scholastic researchers who confer. And why should anyone put any stock into that? Who has had any success with this? Is it not simply in your imagination at this point?”
    (A) I will say this again. You obviously missed it the first and second times. “This is all new. 2013. This year.”
    You need to read all 100 x of my blog posts, and also, read my book. In short – Yes, there is DNA in writing. Go and do a *very close study* of the top 20 RoI films – and you will see it.

    (You also might want to read `Hit Lit’, for the DNA in bestselling novels).

    Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t been keeping up, and is now: left behind. (Epic fail.)
    My book – and the StoryAlity blog are filled (literally) with examples of other scholars who confer.
    You just have to read the literature… It is all there.
    Let me also `frame it up’ for you again: When Charles Darwin first presented the Theory of Evolution, and when Watson and Crick cracked the structure of DNA — right up to that very second, everybody thought: “Well, God just made all the animals and the plants.” Until – someone (eg Darwin) actually looked at the evidence and produced a Theory that works (note: NOBODY has ever before studied the Top 20 RoI films for common elements, let alone found 30 of them).
    So – right after Darwin presents Evolution, and, right after Watson and Crick present the structure of DNA – Are you going to stand there and tell them: “God still made the world and everything” and: “But that’s impossible – NOBODY knows the structure of DNA”….???
    (If so, then, I rest my case about the `insane’ thing…)

    (7) You said: “Why should I bother to read your stuff is so far I consider it all useless? You haven’t sold it. Show me you became successful with it, besides you selling it to people who think you know what you’re talking about. Maybe you could do a series of infomercials or a set of 19 tapes for $900. Plus if you act now a free Ginsu knife.”
    (A) Go check my credits. :)
    And – loads of people are now using the info.
    By the way, it’s free.
    (But for people like you? It’s $900.)
    All I can say is, read the blog. We keep going in circles here – and you keep raising objections, that you would never raise if you actually read the facts.

    Start from the blog Index – http://storyality.wordpress.com/an-index-to-this-blog/
    and just work through it.

    If you can find anywhere I’m wrong, then tell me. (25,000 people so far have tried – and failed – including those in the Academy. (Note: I tested it all inside the Academy first. Those guys in academia are brutal. None of them could find any holes. That’s why I published it. That is: how that works.)
    So, I wish you luck trying to find flaws.

    In other words – If you read it (The StoryAlity research on the top 20 RoI films), like everyone else, you will be convinced. You don’t actually have a choice.

    (Well – unless you are a Creationist and you don’t believe in Evolution, in which case, sorry I can’t help you.) Facts are facts. Unless you want to stay in denial. If so – what do I care anyway? I’m just trying to help. Someone should have done this research 20 years ago. I’ve just spent 20 years waiting for someone to do it – then realized, I had to do actually it myself.)

    To be clear: I worked in the industry as a successful screenwriter for 20 years (including having feature scripts optioned by Robert Watts, who produced the first 3 `Star Wars’ and `Indy’ movies, etc) – and across that 20 years realized – there was a huge hole in the knowledge, that needed filling.
    - It’s now filled (see: StoryAlity).
    So – I know how the real world/film industry works. I know where it fails. I have worked in every role in film, not just screenwriting. This is not: some random guy doing an undergrad degree then writing some random dissertation, about some random books he read one time.

    This research is: solving 3 real-world problems —

    (1) 7 in 10 films lose money

    (2) 98% of screenplays go unmade

    (3) The existing screenwriting convention is not scientific or empirical

    (So problems #1 and #2 stem directly from real-world problem #3. – They can actually all be solved at once, by solving #3.)

    (7) You said: “I don’t owe you $80. My writings are each worth 20 times that. They are concise and do not require reading 200 of my blogs. Why else would you have to bother to write a dissertation on them? But you said yours was worth 2 cents. I simply agreed.”
    (A) Well, so – I didn’t just write a 130,000-word dissertation, and then rewrite it in 100 x blog posts. (Where did 200 come from? You are just exaggerating now.)
    I did a research study that lasted a full intense 2 years. I studied – in painstaking detail – the top 20 and bottom 20 RoI films (and – a bunch of random `test’ films, as a check).

    I also made a (30-min) i-doc film about it:
    The StoryAlity Theory i-doc (30 mins)
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/storyality-65-the-storyality-k-film-online-interactive-documentary-part-1/

    I also made a game demo to teach people how it works, and also wrote a 200-page Screenwriting Manual out of it. There’s much more as well.
    It’s all there on the blog.
    But I guess you’ll never benefit from it.

    So anyway – If you call that `bothering to write a dissertation’, that’s: pretty funny.

    It was the result of spending 20 years as a professional screenwriter, and, as a film story analyst for the major film studios – and for indie prodcos (and, working inside the film biz in many other roles) and, realizing:
    They are all, just like you are, right now…
    They all stick to this (retarded) mantra of “Nobody knows anything” and – just hope that, whatever they do, (ignoring the evidence) will maybe work, and then – when it (usually) fails (as: 70% of films do) they all just say it again “Oh well, Nobody knows anything! Ha-ha!”.
    (And then can’t raise the finance for another film.)
    - It’s retarded.

    And it’s why: most people only ever make 1 feature.

    So – go read `Great Flicks: Scientific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics’ by Simonton (2011). Start there.
    In his conclusion – he *literally* says: “What do we know? LOTS!”
    And then – he lists lots of findings.
    Ignore them all at your peril.
    (`Nobody knows anything’ is a line that people feed you, when they are trying to `sell’ you something.)
    (Check out Dean’s credits, by the way. ie Google DK Simonton. He’s a genius. Google him.)
    Meantime – let’s all cling to some dumbass throwaway statement made by Goldman, back in 1983, (the year that `Empirical Studies of the Arts’ journal *also* started) and let’s all hope – that – somehow “Nobody knows anything” might result: in a successful film.
    (LOL – Good luck!).

    (8) You said: “Who is OITS. Too lazy to add an F or spell it out?”
    (A) Yeh – too lazy to spell it out. My time is too precious. And you probably won’t listen to all this anyway, so – why bother?

    (9) You said: “So you cracked it. What did you crack, exactly? I don’t want to read your entire life’s work (or even just ten years worth). I just want to see the one minute trailer without what I perceive as self-contradiction. Just tell me in a sentence (or is that the ROI thing?).”

    (A) Yep. It’s: the 30 common story/film/screenplay elements, of the 20 most viral films of all time ie – What can filmmakers learn from them. (Answer: Everything.)
    PS You still need: talent. And a lotta hard work. I never said it was easy. I’ve never even said it was a `quick fix’. You seem to have assumed a whole lot.)

    (BTW I’ve been a professional feature film screenplay assessor/story analyst/script editor for 20 years, so, I know what I’m doing… (In analyzing films, and scripts).

    I’m also a successful screenwriter, filmmaker, game writer, transmedia writer, etc.) Google me. And, stop trying to challenge my credentials.

    (You are not the first person to react badly to the new knowledge – and then suddenly try and switch to undermining my authority :)
    But `authority’ doesn’t even matter.
    With empirical results, *anyone* who does the same study will get: the exact same results.
    So why are you suddenly trying to challenge what I know?
    (Either way, I have the experience and credits, so it’s a `mute’ point anyway…[sound of crickets, chirping...] )
    So – this research is not just the result of a 3-year doctoral study – it’s also, 20 years of wondering, and considering, and examining: Why the hell the film industry is *so* retarded… Having been in it that long.
    (20 years ago, at the start of my career, I also wrote a free book, that summarized the 100 most popular Screenwriting Manuals. Nobody else has ever done that, either. – There’s over a million copies on the web, and its in most universities and film schools. For a free copy – see: http://uws.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky).

    The irony is, this new scientific research shows they’re all wrong (those 100 popular `Screenwriting Manuals’) anyway – and that’s no surprise, as: none of them uses an empirical or scientific method. (Pretty simple, really.)

    Once again: This stuff is all new.- ie – 2013.
    (That is not a disclaimer. It’s just: a fact. Consider how people reacted in 1859 when `Evolution’ was new, or in 1953, when Watson and Crick published, on DNA. – Would you have believed them, then? Or – would you have maybe insisted: “NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT, er – Evolution… or about the Structure of DNA-?! It’s impossible!”)

    (10) You said: “Are you saying there’s no art to writing? It doesn’t take talent?”

    (A) Of course I am not saying that. (That would be a retarded thing to say.) If you read my blog, you’ll see what I say about all that.
    - In fact it’s not even `me’ saying it, it’s the accepted scientific research, on Creativity, applied to Film. (See: Csikszentmihalyi, Sawyer, Simonton, Boden, etc etc etc.
    I’m not going to repeat it here. It’s all in my blog – and in the thesis. And – it’s all rock solid. Don’t even try and challenge it. – Those guys (all those Creativity experts) spent over 30 years on it, and – many better people than you, have tried to pick holes in it.)

    (11) You said “(Are you saying) All it takes is to read your stuff and the magic formula is revealed?”
    (A) Well, yes.
    The “magic formula” is actually, revealed.
    (Though I hate the word `magic’. Planes don’t stay in the air because of `magic’, it’s because of: Science.)

    But – just because you `know the formula’ doesn’t mean: you’re a talented writer. So the formula is useless to many people as they don’t have the requisite talent and skills to use it in any useful way. (ie Even with the magic StoryAlity formula, you can still certainly screw it all up and make a non-viral film. Results May Vary. If you get some unco-ordinated skinny wimp in the gym, and you show him every MMA move there is – he’s still going to get killed when you toss him in the ring with Jonny `Bones’ Jones in the UFC.)
    It takes around 10 years to master: Premise, Theme, Character, Plot, Structure, Pacing, Dialog, Tone, and to develop a Voice.
    - This is known as “the 10-year rule” in the scientific study of Creativity. (Hint: it’s all there, in my blog.)
    And, if you really think that Scientists sell `snake oil’, then – you don’t actually understand what Science is.

    To be clear: If a person with no writing talent, and who writes crappy Dialog, and who doesn’t understand Human Nature, and can’t choose a Universal (or at least, fascinating) Theme, and doesn’t have `Something to Say’ etc – goes to the StoryAlity blog and reads `the magic formulae’ for a viral film (as you call it, though I don’t like your use of the word “magic” as – it’s unscientific) – then I’m afraid – no – none of us, can help them.

    - If they’ve got no talent, that’s their problem. Creativity is complex, it’s a combination of Bio-Socio-Cultural factors.

    You really need to read my blog.
    I can’t rewrite the whole thing here just for you, in this Comment.
    But in short – If, a serious filmmaker – who is serious about: making their film go viral, reads it (the “magic” formula, as you just called it), and *has talent*, and also – doesn’t screw up a whole bunch of other things like say, the Casting to name one (and by the way – `Stars’ make a money lose money, read DeVany on `The Curse of the Superstar’, and note also: none of the top 20 RoI films had stars in them: read the blog), then – yes.
    It should, probably, work.
    - It’s probability theory.

    All of which means, there is an art and craft to screenwriting. It’s incredibly deep and complex.
    (If it wasn’t – then 70% of films wouldn’t fail, like they do.)
    There are things you can do – in your story and screenplay – that increase the probability of your film story, going viral.
    The top 20 RoI films all do them.
    It’s pretty simple.
    Note: This is not a `quick fix’. It’s just: empirical evidence. You still need to spend around 10 years (on average) practising the craft of screenwriting. And: making films.

    Another Example – If you do *more* of the things that Olympic athletes do, You are more likely to become an Olympic athlete. If you don’t do *any* of the things that they do (eg: Olympic athlete diet, training, and: use science) then – the probability of succeeding in your goals is: much much much lower.

    But the thing about Olympic athletes is, if you try to become one – and fail, who cares? You probably got: very fit.
    Thing with film is: You Cannot Afford To Fail.
    (If your first film bombs, or even your 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc) – you will find it hard to get financing for your next one.
    (Right-? Is any of this wrong? I just spent 20 years in the industry watching people make films around me, and also, making them, myself. And researching A LOT.)

    (12) You said: “So can we now expect to see 50,000 Stephen Spielbergs sometime soon? Sounds a lot like snake oil.”

    (A) Nope. That’s not gonna happen.
    Spielberg has 1 film in the top 20 RoI. That’s 1 out of 500,000 films. And I don’t think, everyone was making films in Boy Scouts just like Spielberg, either…?
    ie – I don’t just look at the top 20 RoI films themselves, in the research, I study the common patterns across the top 20 RoI Filmmakers too. And – their creative Processes. There are loads of `common patterns’ in there too (that: aren’t in the Bottom 20 RoI filmmakers). And – that nobody else actually noticed before. Mainly as: nobody actually looked. (It’s not that hard. You just need to ask the right questions.)
    To understand Creativity, you need to look at, at least – 3 things:
    The Creative (1) Person (2) their creative Process and (3) the creative Product (eg – their *successful* film/s.)

    (Of course – you *also* need to be aware of their early films, which, usually, weren’t so successful.)
    This research is all a vast amount of work. And – is based on the scientific study of Creativity, it is not just: some stuff I made up.
    It’s all: cold hard facts.
    Read it sometime.

    (Then, tell me if you found anything wrong in there. Seriously. I’m not kidding. I predict: you will thank me, later. Everyone who reads the blog/research does.)
    People simply `Don’t know, what they don’t know’.

    Once they know it, they know it.

    Beforehand, they are filled with attitude, and opinion.
    eg Like `Nobody knows anything’.
    (…Does any of this sound familiar?)

    (13) You said “So you also say there is no God. Is there also no love and no art. It’s easy to say you’ve measured God by saying it doesn’t exist.”

    (A) Sorry but, there’s (probably) no God.
    There is certainly, a fairly-common basic human need, to `believe in something like God’…
    But – that’s not the same thing as: there actually, being, a God.

    - It’s mainly because: humans are very good at pattern-recognition, and problem-solving.
    And – if you can’t solve the problem: then people can often ascribe it to: `God’.
    (Atheists/most scientists obviously find it [that religious-style `awe'] in Nature, or, the Cosmos, through Science – without all the hokey-bedtime-story stuff.
    Religion usually just gets in the way of Science anyway (see: Galileo, etc.)
    Also most Religions are designed as: incredibly-viral memes (“If you believe all this stuff about God, you will go to Heaven and there will be cake.” And they all have a classic `Hero’s Journey’ story for their Messiah, etc.
    The top 20 RoI films are just the Filmic equivalent of: Religions. Memes all work the same way.
    Word-of-mouth matters most.)
    And – seriously, OITSF, if this hasn’t convinced you (about there being: no God) – then, you really must watch `The Ledge’ (2011) by Matthew Chapman.
    Seriously! It’s an utterly-brilliant indie film.
    He’s (writer-director Matthew Chapman) an ex-Hollywood screenwriter who realized, Hollywood is almost completely full of retards.)
    `The Ledge’ also stars Charlie Hunnam – who up until yesterday was cast as the lead in “50 Shades of Badly-Written-Porn” or whatever. He’s great in it. As is Patrick Wilson.

    But – anyway – there is certainly: Love and there is certainly: Art. (And, instead of God, or say, `magic’/supernatural stuff, there is: Science.)

    (TO BE CONTINUED)

  7. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    PART 2

    (14) You asked: “Do you place any stock in William Goldman’s statement that no one in Hollywood knows anything, when he talks about what it takes to write a successful film? Or perhaps he doesn’t exist either.”

    (A) No, he exists – and, I’m glad he does. Love his work (even `Magic’ with Anthony Hopkins, LOL).
    He’s an utterly awesome screenwriter.
    But no there is no stock whatsoever in “Nobody knows anything.”
    That was said, in 1983.
    This is 2013.
    We now know *lots* about: Why some films succeed and others fail.
    So, the fact that Goldman once said “Nobody knows anything” has done more damage to screenwriting and film, than any other 3-word phrase.
    I actually have the full “Nobody knows anything” quote, at the start of my thesis (from his 1983 memoir, and – it’s a memoir, not even a screenwriting manual), just to show exactly how silly it is – and I also mention it in the blog, many many times, for the fact that: it is extremely unhelpful – as it actually blocks knowledge.
    If we all were to just lie down, and accept “Nobody knows anything” then – it means, we’re all happy, just `gambling and guessing’

    (Not a good option, if you want: a sustainable film career).

    Did I mention, 7 in 10 films fail to break even?
    Like I say, read DK Simonton’s `Great Flicks’ (2011). He says; “What do we know? LOTS!” and then, explains it. (He looks at award-winners. I look at viral films.)

    (15) You asked: “How many successful films have you written?”
    (A) Why don’t you Google `JT Velikovsky’ and find out…
    I also have a feature film coming out in cinemas next month that I script edited. – It uses the `StoryAlity Theory’ principles. Also – the StoryAlity Theory predicts: the next top 20 RoI film will occur in Jan 2014.
    (They happen every 2.05 years on average. These are the facts… Check them all, for yourself. The first top 20 RoI in the past 70 years was in 1968, NOTLD.)

    (16) You said: “Don’t tell me what I hate. I’m not hating on Colin Brown. I’m criticizing him. My point of view is equally valid. Oh wait. I’m wrong wrong wrong, and he’s right right right. I feel like I just read Dick and Jane. See Colin write; right, right right.”
    A: You said his article was `fear-mongering’ or whatever.
    That’s not love.
    It’s a great article!
    Stop criticizing it.

    (17) You said: “So all modern art is categorized in genres? What genres are Pollock, Lichtenstein, Warhol? How about Mondrian?”
    (A) Are you serious? All of them have worked in various art Genres…! And – each took about 10 years, to evolve their own style, and sometimes, actually created a new Genre after that time. As did Picasso (see his early work. Very conventional.) – But – see how African masks also influenced Cubism.

    Creativity all works the same way. Seriously. (I am not making this up.)
    But, certain of their works (Pollock, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Mondrian) are more famous (eg Blue Poles, Whaam! and the Campbell’s Soup one, and `Composition With Yellow, Blue and Red’.)

    So what? I’m not going to give you an Art Lesson here but there are indeed: Genres, in Modern art. Fauvism, Surrealism, Futurism, Constructivism, de Stijl, Suprematism, etc etc etc
    http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/timelines/modern_art_timeline.htm
    (Mondrian was in the de Stijl movement/Genre.)
    …Surely, you know all this, if you’re a filmmaker-??

    Why are we even discussing this? Yes there are Genres in Art, in Music, in Film. Importantly, some people are Genre fans: Horror Fans, Sci Fi Fans, RomCom fans, etc. As Brown points out above, some Audiences seek that.

    The big problem is: Drama. As – a film can be a Drama in a zillion different ways (just as `real-life problems’ can be: infinite), so – Dramas are hard to market to an audience. You keep talking about how: `Indie Films need to find an Audience’. Do you know a better place to start, in looking for an Audience than the Genre of a film? If so, then what is that exactly? (and please, if you have an answer, provide at least some empirical evidence for the claim. ie Not just an opinion – they are worthless. Everyone has one – and they are all different. if they are actually *right*, that’s: a coincidence.)

    (18) You said “And you are limited to only 12 genres for all art. Otherwise, you negate Brown’s list above.
    (A) There are indeed more than 12 genres of Art, sorry. And Brown’s list above never claimed to be an exhaustive list of Genres so nothing just got negated here. – You’re making too many assumptions.

    There are about 40+ genres in film. Not even including hybrid-genres (combinations of 2 or more genres.) – Read my blog. Just because Brown didn’t list `every possible genre’ doesn’t mean: anything he actually said here, is wrong! Sheesh! Stop making all these incorrect assumptions all over the place.

    (19) You said: “And you say this applies to music? Then why does music have so many genres? Why are there new ones every decade or more often? Why does film have the same tired old genres decade after decade?”

    (A) Because film and music and art are all culture and they all evolve the same way.

    I explain all this in my blog.

    Go to the Index, and:
    Read the 5 posts on `Evolution and Culture’.

    These are their titles:

    On Cultural Evolution – and Memes
    StoryAlity #44 – Biological Evolution, Cultural Evolution, and Creativity: Film
    StoryAlity #45 – On Movie Memes and Memetics (and: How Memes Work)
    StoryAlity #45B – On Tracking Memes in The Meme Pool
    StoryAlity #46 – On Mayans, Memes, Creativity, Darwin and Dawkins
    StoryAlity #47 – Why are some Screenplays/Films more `viral’ Memes?
    StoryAlity #47B – More on Memes & Film (and: 3 solved problems in Memetics)

    Also read these 2: (it will explain `The Evolution of Genres’ to you)

    On Holons and Holarchies
    StoryAlity #48 – On Film Holons and Holarchies – and How Holarchies Work
    StoryAlity #49 – On Movie Screenplays, Viral Memes, and Cultural Evolution

    And yes, this all applies to Music as well. And Art. And Novels. Even Poetry. Even: Hairdressing.

    (20) You asked: “And what genre does David Lynch work in?”

    Surrealism, mostly.

    See: Eraserhead, and note the influences that persist through all his films.

    Also – he usually has a `schizophrenia’ Theme/Motif in every single film – except for `Dune’ and `The Elephant Man’ but those 2 weren’t projects he initiated, they were: “gun for hire”. Also electricity motifs usually mean `death or danger’ in his films. He’s also, one of my fave filmmakers ever.

    But – So what? There is only 1 David Lynch. Modelling yourself on him is incredibly risky. THink of all the guys who didnt become David Lynch.

    Better to model yourself on yourself. Find your own Voice as a filmmaker. And meantime, model it all on what the most viral filmmakers did.

    (You can still tell: whatever Story/Themes you like, and make it go viral. – This is just `the method’ underneath it all. It’s not that hard.)

    (21) You asked: “Why isn’t it listed in Brown’s post? Is Lynch not in the top 20 ROI? Does that make him unsuccessful? Do you think filmmakers don’t want to be the next David Lynch, and they should ignore him? Do you ignore him?”
    (A) If you want to model yourself on David Lynch, then do it. It’s very risky though. You will need to spend 4 years making an weird arthouse film on weekends, and then be `discovered’ by Mel Brooks and hired to make The Elephant Man. After that it should be all downhill. (Not easy. Long odds. Mel Brooks is hard to get a meeting with now.)

    So – no Lynch isn’t actually in the top 20 RoI. But Aronofsky’s `Pi’ is #23 – and that’s actually a pretty Lynchian film. (I love that film.) Kubrick isn’t in the top 20 either, and he’s my fave filmmaker. I also love David Fincher, Ozu, Bresson, Hitchcock, Shane Carruth, and a bunch of others. But – my personal opinions about films are totally irrelevant to: the most Viral films.

    I’m only interested in – ie – the purpose of this research is: How to make viral films?

    ie – How did the others do it?
    - So that – you (ie – any given filmmaker) can *then* make 10 more films, over the next 10 years – and then – finally become: a Kubrick, a Lynch, a Fincher, an Ozu, a Bresson, a Hitchcock, a James Cameron, and/or a bunch of others.

    ie – They will `become themselves’ obviously, not: Kubrick, Lynch or – anyone else.

    But – the key Q is: How do you make sure your films won’t flop? What’s your model?

    There are common patterns in the films that go most viral.

    Use them, to your advantage. One day, you too can then make your `masterpiece’.
    But they all didn’t do it with their first film.

    (With: very few exceptions.)

    (22) You said: “You don’t understand what you’re talking about. The top 20 ROI mean nothing to a writer. Sure, they are good to read and get ideas from, but so are the next 1000, and so are the bottom 500. It all feeds the writer. But there is no formula for success.”

    (A) You still don’t understand. Ideas come from everywhere in culture. From Films, from Songs, newspapers, a conversation on the bus, anywhere.

    Empirically, any film has over 2000 ideas in it. (See Robert Watson’s excellent thesis on `Rorty’.)

    Ok so – if there’s `no formulae for success’ (and I don’t know how you would know that… How many successful filmmakers have you studied?), then – Why do the top 20 RoI films have 30 things in common then? – Was that just a bizarre fluke?

    A Side note: I’ve been a successful screenwriter for 20 years, and I’ve also read over 100 of the most popular screenwriting manuals. (You should try that, just as an exercise, sometime. You’ll soon see: the flaws across them. – Most of them actually `cancel each other out’, and anyway: they can’t all be right…

    Also – you’ll soon notice, *none of them* use a scientific or empirical method (McKee’s is the worst, he even admits he just uses illustrative examples up front in NOTES ON THE TEXT) so – it’s no wonder there’s now 2500 screenwriting manuals – and 2500 different theories on film writing.

    That, my friend, is: snake oil.)

    What you’re also still not understanding is that: Science has now, after 100 years, entered Screenwriting. – It’s the same as when Science entered any other field. Think about it. (Read `The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ by Kuhn.)

    Now, tell me again the top 20 RoI films mean nothing to a writer…
    Star Wars, (1977)? Yeah, I guess no writer ever even *saw* that movie…

    ET (1982)? I bet no writer has ever heard of that either.
    And I bet no writer (or filmmaker) ever wants their film to get into the top 20 RoI films list. – It’s a pretty stupid goal really. Why would you ever want to have an `incredibly-viral’ film? That would mean, your Theme (as, a writer) and your Story, would actually: Reach the widest audience possible.

    And – we all know – screenwriters hate that, when that happens. (ie Ask any screenwriter – and they’ll all surely tell you: “I became a writer so, I could type up 40 x feature screenplays, and starve while doing it, and never sell a single one, let alone, actually ever get one made. And that is why I write screenplays.”

    …Right? THAT’s surely why screenwriters do it.

    So – I guess you’re right, `viral success’ with movies is a dumb goal. – Dang. 20 years of thinking about.examining it – and that never once occurred to me. Sheesh. Silly me. What a waste of 20 years that was. (Guess, I’m empirically: an idiot?)

    I guess, `The top 20 ROI’ mean nothing to a writer. They probably never even heard of those films…

    Or, wait, come to think of it: they’re all – the most viral films…

    Maybe: `virality’ is a good thing? Hmmmmm….

    (23) You said: “Show me the filmmakers who used your research and are now successful. How many years shall I wait? Show me the money, not the snake oil.”

    (A) For the filmmakers using it: read the blog, and read the Comments by all the filmmakers.
    There are loads of writers/filmmakers using it: right now.
    Can I just repeat something? This is *new knowledge*. 2013. (That is not: a Disclaimer.)

    I started blogging the research in: late 2012.
    (You also seem to think, you’re the very-first person to hear about, and, try and challenge all this.

    - You also seem to think this is the first time I’ve had to answer, every single one of these questions you’ve asked…

    Think again.

    - Ask yourself, Why: there is a `Frequently Asked Questions’ page on my Blog, and, in my book.)
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/faq-frequently-asked-questions/

    (24) You said: “I don’t hate, I’m not offended, Mr. remote psychoanalyst. You know nothing about me after reading a few of my lines. I simply criticize and question you as you suggested that I may do. Thank you so much for your permission.”

    (A) Stop being so defensive. Sheesh.

    Not that this is important – but, in fact, after 20 years in the industry – I actually reckon I `know’ you – in very great detail. Yes: I’m a psychoanalyst. As, I’m a Script Editor among many other things.
    If you do that, for long enough, you get to `know’ writing personalities. (Don’t get me wrong, yours is great.)
    People are also: exactly like, their scripts.

    I’ve had a quick skim of your projects (http://outinthestreetfilms.com/main.aspx) and I reckon I could fill out a Briggs-Myer personality test – pretending that I was you – and it would probably come back identical to yours.
    Don’t hate me that I’m good at analyzing people. If you’re a good writer – as you say you are, then you’ll know: all (good) writers are also: incredible psychoanalysts.
    (Now try also – being a Script Editor for 20 years, where you not only need to get inside the script (and, all its characters) – but inside the writer’s head, as well…?)

    Look I’m sure you’re great – and good luck all with your projects.
    But – still with the sarcasm, I see.
    And – You do seem pretty offended, though?
    Your tone kinda gives it away. Well – unless, you are just: sarcastic all the time. LOL (And why not, gotta have a hobby, I guess.)
    (And you may notice, at the start here, I added the F to your OITSF acronym, but – trust me – if you ignore all these facts you are gonna be `Out In The Street’ Films, in more ways than one.
    Rather spooky that, you’ve got a project called `CREDIT RISK’… Christ…!)

    Okay so – answer me this, Out In The Street Films:
    If Credit Risk really *is* `like no movie you’ve ever seen’ then how is it, in the same sentence: –> “and influenced by films like U-Turn, True Romance, and Gross Point Blank”.
    - If it’s `like no other film I’ve ever seen’, it would be truly original. ie – No comparison, to other films.
    - It probably also would be: so darn weird, `different’ and fresh that: nobody would even begin to understand it. Let alone make it: go viral, via word of mouth.
    This is what Culture is, and `How it works’.
    You take 2 old ideas, mash ‘em together (and, do at least, 30 x other things too, see my blog) – and, if it works?
    Then it goes viral.
    (Read my posts on it. Genes and Memes work the same way. Creativity.)

    Oh, but wait, you say, you don’t need to…

    Ok – well good luck with `Credit Risk’ – and I sure as hell, hope it isn’t a `credit risk’, for all its investors…)

    That’s all for now, from `Einstein’…

    BTW – Csikszentmihalyi was the `Einstein’ of Creativity, you should read his stuff… especially his book `Creativity’ (1996) – It would help you. I recommend it to all film creatives.

    (Not being snarky. Seriously! Read it.)

    JT

  8. Out in the Street Films / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Just skimmed through all that. Did I miss where you explained why film has only 12 genres? You can’t answer that simple question which pokes a hole in your entire rant. All you can do is make generalizations: “And yes, this all applies to Music as well. And Art. And Novels. Even Poetry. Even: Hairdressing.” Really? Then answer the question. Why only 12?

    I’m not saying I want to be David Lynch. I’m jut saying he’s an example that again, puts a huge hole in your arguments. Certainly there are many more.

    So you wrote a video game and a short apparently. That’s it? You make a living on that? No. You make a living selling your crap to unsuspecting filmmakers.

    I’m done with you.

  9. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Yep, you missed it. – I said there are 40+ Genres in film.
    So – I answered the simple question.
    (And, it’s not a rant, it’s me: showing in detail, why you’re so very wrong?)
    And – No, Lynch puts no holes in my arguments? – His films just aren’t that viral, as great as they are.
    (You don’t seem to get it.)
    You also clearly missed my feature credits.
    You’re not so great at research, I guess.
    Anyway – good luck with your projects. (Gonna need it.)
    And lay off Colin Brown. – It’s a really great article.

  10. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    By
    JT Velikovsky
    “The Einstein of Story/Screenplay/Film”

  11. Out in the Street Films / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    I don’t take orders form you. Brown is apparently 28 genres short of a full deck in your world. But then in your world that would make perfect sense.

  12. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Hey OTIS,

    Just noticed, you also said “You talk only about films of the past.”
    Um – do you suggest, we all use a time machine, and perhaps study films from the future? (ie – What are you suggesting, is the alternative? LOL)

    Also, if you look at my study (http://storyality.wordpress.com/), it’s the top 20 RoI films of the past 70 years, and pls note that – the most recent is 2012. They (top 20 RoI films) happen every 2.05 years, on average (with remarkable regularity). The next one will happen in Jan 2014.

    Cheers

    JT

  13. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    No, he’s not 28 Genres short of a full deck. Leave Colin Brown (and, Britney!) alone! He’s written a great article. Those are the most statistically-significant Genres. Stop bagging the article with invalid criticisms and super-whacky ideas. Also – stop insulting me. Also stop calling me and Colin `corporate hacks’. You’re in fantasy-land my friend. We’re the opposite of that.
    Cheers
    JT
    PS – OTIS (& Milo), hope your film isn’t one of the 70% that loses money. Good luck with it. (You totes are gonna need it, with your ‘tude.)

  14. joe velikovsky / Oct 11 at 8:32pm

    Hey Jon Raymond of OTIS Films,

    Just saw your completely-wrong blog-post here:
    http://jonraymond.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/if-you-build-better-mouse-trap-world.html
    In it – you have completely misquoted, and misunderstood everything that I have said, here. Congratulations. I didn’t think anyone could be *that* wrong.

    And – you still clearly haven’t read – or understood – a single thing, on the http://storyality.wordpress.com/ blog, nor even in Colin Brown’s excellent article, above.

    The only “advice that is deadly” is: your own.

    Cut it out, you are possibly destroying potential film careers with your nonsense (that is, if anyone is actually listening to it, which I doubt).

    Also – you clearly don’t understand, what `empirical research’ is. There are no `moving targets’ (except maybe for: yourself, and your utterly-nonsense, uninformed, and wrong opinions).

    The top 20 RoI Films are empirically `what they are’, the figures don’t change. Those films received those *fixed* box office figures/audience numbers, in their theatrical cinema release. Nothing can change that. It is locked/fixed/permanent. Any observer will find: THOSE ARE the top 20 RoI films. That is what empirical means. Nothing about it, changes.

    So – read the StoryAlity blog, and: get some sense into your head.

    And, quit misquoting me.

    We are COMING OUT OF THE DARK AGES – due to Science. That is what I said. See the StoryAlity blog. (See the posts on Consilience.)

    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/storyality-71-consilience-is-coming-read-all-about-it/

    - Christ, Jon. How many times before it gets into that thick skull?

    And – you still seem to think `love’ and `art’ are abstract concepts. You clearly still don’t `get’ what consilience (using science to examine the arts) is.

    - Your own sense of `logic and realism’ is all a pretty `abstract concept’ – it is as far removed from Reality, as its possible to be. So cut it out. It’s just retarded.

    And stop misquoting me. Any people who (might?) read what you think – and then check it against all the facts (eg the StoryAlity research) which shows the exact opposite to what you are saying, to be true – will think: your brain is broken. Which it, pretty much, appears to be.

    JT

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