Artistic and Creative `Problem-Situations’ for Screenwriters and Filmmakers: Career Sustainability
So, 98% of screenplays presented to producers go unmade (Macdonald 2004, 2013).
And, only 30% of movies made, break even (Vogel 2011, De Vany 2004).
This is: The Less Than 1% Problem in Movies (and in Movie Screenwriting).
So, the professional creative domain of cinema is highly competitive, for both creatives – and for their works.
So, Fellini pretty much nailed it, in: 8½ (1963).
In Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms, Alexander (2003) surveys prior studies of careers in Hollywood and also the British film industry, stating:
‘The riskiness, high stakes and uncertainty in the film industry set the stage for careers there, epitomized by the industry saying “you’re only as good as your last credit”…
The risky nature of film careers is heightened by competition.
As Faulkner and Anderson put it, there are “armies” of talented people who hope to break into the industry. These include not just actors, but screenwriters, composers, directors, and people working in such technical occupations as photography, sound, lighting and computers to name a few…
Thus, any type of failure on the part of individuals can be catastrophic for their personal careers, as there are many people waiting in the wings to take their place…
Thus, the industry works on a model of cumulative advantage in which the rich, as it were, get richer… Failures, however, are treated harshly, and a single failure can end the careers of those seen as responsible. The majority of producers and directors, for instance, make only one film in their lives (Faulkner and Anderson, p. 894-5).
As Faulkner and Anderson put it, “money `seeks’ money and avoids low earners in this system of contracting… Performance `seeks’ performance. Those with low performance revenues appear to be avoided (or passed over) by those with high cumulative earnings.” (p. 901).’
Noting David Bordwell (1997, 2008), Brian Boyd (2009, 2010) and Csikszentmihalyi & Getzels (1976) on creative `problem situations’, one key problem-situation for both screenwriters and filmmakers is, therefore, career sustainability.
The general research problem under investigation might be reformulated, thus:
How might one aim to conceive, write and make – and, thus, co-create – a movie that may have a greater probability of succeeding in reaching its intended audience?
This line of enquiry inevitably and inescapably reverts to the question:
And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:
StoryAlity #132 – The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)
And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:
StoryAlity #71 – On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication
Comments, always welcome.
High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher
The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky
JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
Alexander, V 2003, Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms, Blackwell, Malden, MA.
Bordwell, D 1997, On the History of Film Style, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
—— 2008, Poetics of Cinema, Routledge, New York.
—— 2011, Common Sense + Film Theory = Common-Sense Film Theory?, http://www.davidbordwell.net/, viewed 27th February 2014, <http://www.davidbordwell.net/essays/commonsense.php#_edn23>.
—— 2012, The Viewer’s Share: Models of Mind in Explaining Film, http://www.davidbordwell.net/, viewed 27th February 2014, <http://www.davidbordwell.net/essays/viewersshare.php>.
Bordwell, D & Carroll, N 1996, Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, Wisconsin studies in film, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
See: Boyd’s chapter on `The Narrative Corpse’ in – Boyd, B, Carroll, J & Gottschall, J 2010, Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader, Columbia University Press, New York.
Boyd, B, 2009, On The Origin Of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Csikszentmihalyi, M & Getzels, JW 1976, The Creative Vision: A Longitudinal Study of Problem Finding in Art, John Wiley and Sons, New York.
De Vany, A. S. (2004). Hollywood Economics: How Extreme Uncertainty Shapes The Film Industry. London ; New York: Routledge.
Macdonald, IW 2004, ‘The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-making (PhD Dissertation)’, Leeds Metropolitan University.
Macdonald, I. W. (2013). Screenwriting Poetics and the Screen Idea. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Popper, K, 1999, All Life is Problem Solving, Routledge, London; New York.
Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.
Vogel, HL 2011, Entertainment Industry Economics – A Guide For Financial Analysis, 8th edn, Cambridge University Press, New York.
For more on the references above, see: StoryAlity #71 – On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities