I want to expand for a moment on the “commercially viable” statement of my last post, and clarify this concept a bit.
Storytelling, when done well, is something that has the power to enrich our lives as an audience both through its telling and through our participation in that telling. A good story might show up in a movie screen, a theater stage, a television screen, or your mobile phone. It might show up in the overall theme of a good story, or it might show up in just the smallest performance of a single actor and character in an otherwise flawed presentation.
This illustrates how a great script can go terribly wrong, or a bad script can be turned into something better.
This is also why, when people send me scripts or stories or tell me about a project that has a “good heart” (which sometimes people seem to like to use interchangably with “good script”), it doesn’t mean anything to me. I couldn’t care less if the story is about a some guy with a hockey mask that kills people, or Mother Teresa. What I want, what we as an audience demand, are characters we can identify with in some way that informs us of who we are. Or who we don’t want to be. Or the choices we would or wouldn’t make in a certain situation.
Those elements, and finding ways for your audience to pick up on them, assess them, then use them to gauge their own existences – THAT is good storytelling, and what’s more – THAT is commercially viable.
Commerically viable just means that as an overall project, (writers, producers, directors, actors, release patterns and marketing strategies), will all come together to communicate these virtues to a large enough audience that given a certain budget level, the property will earn a return.
If your film or project cannot find the audience to support making it, it is because one or more of those overall project elements was lacking.