Know your customer

Know your customer

Know your customer, it isn’t the audience

It is easy to get seduced by all these sexy business terms, like four quadrant film and existing IP. But you have to know your customer as a screenwriter.  This may shock some of you. But it isn’t the audience.

Know your customer as a screenwriter.

You must write for the audience that will eventually see your film. That is true. The same way that Nike makes shoes people will want to wear. But NIke ’s customers are not you and me.  Nike’s customers are shoe shops.

The customer is the person with money in their hand.

So who is your customer? The producer that will purchase your script. So therefore you must be like Nike. Make a shoe (screenplay) that will appeal to the eventual audience. But make it (write it) in such a way that it appeals to the Shoe Shop (Producer).

What does this mean?

You start with the type of film you can write. I can’t write a RomCom, so I will not try. I am as funny as a fatal car crash. So once you have the type of film. Who makes them? If it is “big studios” you have to be realistic. You have no chance of getting your work in front of them. You may have to circle back around and find a smaller production option that fits your style of writing.

So you have a style and know the type of producer. So what is that producer’s needs? This can be difficult to answer. Avoid the obvious answers like “a hit film”. Look at their previous productions. What things are in common. What makes those common facts important.

If you are going to focus on Horror, what do they need? Normally they focus on death, so you’ll need interesting ways of putting people in danger.  They don’t have a huge budget, so limited locations and a smaller cast.  They don’t need a lot of star power, so you can write something that would be fun to perform. This will hopefully attract talented unknowns. 

You have to do that sort of analysis. Now when you pitch this to producers you can have a well informed conversation as you have thought it all through.  If the producer asks “what do you think the budget is?”.  You could answer “I don’t have enough experience to put an accurate dollar figure on it. But I have written to minimise costs such as ………..”. Or “I understand that your productions are based in Southern California. All the exteriors are very much Southern California.”.

The Nike paradigm.

Just like Nike you must create for the audience and produce for the producer. Nike can’t make the best shoe in the world with a retail price of a million