I attended an agents and managers panel in Los Angeles last spring. When the event was winding down, audience members asked if they could submit their material for possible representation. Every member of the panel had the same answer. They’d consider every genre except one: drama.
After I gave a seminar in New York this summer, the leader of the group sponsoring the event mentioned an upcoming pitch festival. There was one stipulation- do not pitch any dramas to the participating production companies.
Noticing a trend?
On my High Concept CD, I rank every major genre in terms of how easy they are to sell. The list has three tiers. The top tier contains the easiest genres to sell. Those genres in the middle tier are somewhat harder to sell. The bottom tier features the most difficult genres of all to sell. They include westerns, musicals, period films, and (obviously) dramas.
Why is this? Of all the genres, dramas pack the most emotional punch. They also comprise 99% of all Academy-Award nominated films with the exception of an occasional musical or comedy.
The answer is a simple one. Dramas cover serious subjects like death, divorce, and other details of our troubled lives. Audiences by and large are drawn to a lighter fare. They go to the theatre to be amused or entertained, and don’t want to be forced to think too much. They want to escape from the daily problems they face and don’t need to be reminded of them on the big screen.
Dramas have limited audience appeal, and box-office receipts bear those statistics out. The writers who get assignments to write dramas are veterans with credits and generally don’t write on spec.
So … submit your adventure or comedy scripts and file your dramas away until you make it big.
Read Steve on Screenwriting by Steve Kaire the first Thursday of the month on Write On! Online. Kaire is a screenwriter/pitchman who’s sold eight projects to the major studios on spec without representation. For more from Steve Kaire, check out his CD: “High Concept-How to Create, Pitch & Sell to Hollywood and website: High Concept Screenwriting.Tags: High Concept Screenwriting Steve Kaire Steve on Screenwriting Write On! Online