This weekend a few events coincided that led me to ask myself: Who decides? Decides what, you say? Who decides what movies I can see and what books I can read? You’re probably saying to yourself: “Huh? You live in America, don’t you? You have so much freedom there, a free market. You decide of course.”
But do I really? Even with our free market, we still have movie studios and publishers that filter out the supposed wheat from the chaff, so to speak. The “good” make it to the movie screen and the bookstores. The “bad” languish unseen and unread on the screenwriter’s or author’s desk.
Now, I’m not knocking movie studios and publishers (I work for a publishing contractor/publisher). They perform a valuable service, this filtering out the wheat from the chaff. But, I wonder sometimes: “How do these people decide what is wheat and what is chaff?” Obviously, if the writing is not up to par or the story is convoluted, then I can easily see how a studio or publisher can filter that out. But, when the lines are not clearly black and white. What happens then? My guess would be that the thumbs up goes with whatever would “sell”, whatever appeals to the most people. But, what about the screenplay or novel that is well written, but would only appeal to a niche audience, a small subset of the masses?
What led me to these questions?
First, I went to see “Singin’ in the Rain” at the Redford Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. I went to see this film with my husband, a long-time friend of mine, and his girlfriend. My long-time friend is a screenwriter, has yet to sell a script to a studio, but has co-produced, co-written, and co-starred in a movie (“Dan Jones’ Career Is Over”). He’s inspired to again film a movie of his own, but investors with capital are lacking. How does one get capital for a worthy project when one is, essentially, unknown?
This friend is also a big-time movie buff. For years he’d go to the movies weekly (or every other week). But, as we were talking, he mentioned that he rarely goes to movies anymore. There’s nothing out there that appeals to him. My husband used to go to the movies often with his brother. His brother moved across the country some years back, but my husband used to mention wanting to go see movies often. But, for a couple of years now, he’s not gotten excited to see anything (well, except Avatar). Is there an untapped market that the movie studios are overlooking?
Second, after church on Sunday I was talking with a friend of mine who loaned me her copy of “Mrs. Miracle” by Debbie Macomber a couple of weeks back. Before this friend extolled the virtues of this particular book I had not heard of “Mrs. Miracle”. Strange, I thought, considering this kind of book is just what I like. I found that I couldn’t put it down and I liked it so much I decided to check out another book by that author from the library. And, I’m liking that book too. How do published books get in the hands of those who are most likely to read and enjoy them? Word of mouth is good, but authors and publishers can’t rely on that can they? Amazon.com has their “recommendations”, but that’s not the best service either. No books by Debbie Macomber appeared in my recommendations, but a lot of books that I wouldn’t even consider reading are on the list. And, these are published books, with big-name publishers. What about authors who have interesting books but can’t find a publisher to publish them? What about books published by small-time publishers or self-publishers? How do they get the word out without the network that big-name publishers have?
Who decides what the world should see and read? And, what are we missing when the powers that do decide decide that certain screenplays or manuscripts should best be left unseen or unread?
Just pondering…. No answers. Although, if my readers would like to provide answers, I’m all ears… or in this case, eyes.
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