Last week I talked to a producer that worked on numerous Nickelodeon projects and has recently entered the faith-based production market. During a recent network gathering, he learned that most faith-based producers do not understand the business of filmmaking. This lack of knowledge has led to numerous films flopping during the highest demand for faith-based products in the history of cinema.
The producer also spoke with many investors who have risked money on unknown filmmakers that could make a nice short, but who had no understanding of how to produce a feature or run a film business. The obvious result was bad pictures that performed poorly at the box office.
Every independent filmmaker should learn the business of filmmaking because of the number of impressions a film can make by understanding the trends. The greater the amount of impressions, the more people take away the important message salted into the story, and the more investors get a return on their money.
Two weeks ago box office tracking firms, studios and investment firms released results from 2013 and part of 2014. They also gave projections on the trends for 2015, 2016, and 2017. The cumulative average of the announcements have been within a +/– 5% over the past 12 of 13 years.
The three most notable trends in the independent film industry are as follows:
Trends in Genre
The number one film genre destined for failure over the next three years is westerns. The main reason is that the audience no longer knows how to relate to the westerns and lifestyles of that era. Those producers set to shoot westerns within the next three years will find it wise to shelve the project for a time or make it a contemporary story set in the past.
The top two genres that will be in demand include patriotism and stories of redemption (not to be confused with faith-based stories). Investors will be cautious with soldier stories that don’t have an obvious streak of patriotism throughout the story.
Other notes of interest included niche market information. Horror film hits will include stories laced with comedy in between the scary moments. Faith-based films will see a decline until the producers shift from being supported by individuals who support faith-based films because it’s religious to individuals who support great storytelling.
Trends in Box Office
The biggest in demand item that is predicted to generate the largest margins and ROI will be strong female lead based action/adventure films – A perfect time to produce my STEELE BLUE title.
The box office will also tip during this three-year period to films with solid international casts. While audiences worldwide will still want to see specific local and nationally driven stories, they will desire it to have a worldview perspective within the telling of the story.
The stories expected to generate the biggest buzz outside of tentpoles, include personal stories filled with 3-6 set pieces. In common terms, the story has to take the audience on a journey that they haven’t seen before. Faith-based stories will suffer greatly from this trend, as most producers market the same basic story as their competitors.
Trends in Marketing
Horror producers are shifting to specialty advertising in combination with social media. The trend will reward companies that promote iconic messaging and specialty items with the message.
Sports producers are already shifting to a more reality based social media storytelling format to drive feature length projects. This trend takes the story from the love of the sport to following an accomplished person within each given sport.
Redemptive story producers are looking to create tentpole films for the general market with the hopes of drawing faith-based audiences to higher quality stories. The marketing campaigns will be split between audiences with distinctly different messages. The faith-based message will be subtle, rather than overt to avoid being pigeon holed into the faith-based market. Several producers hope to use excessive profits to train up faith-based filmmakers in redemptive story techniques.
The trends have been announced and those in tune with the industry are adjusting their portfolios accordingly. In the meantime, those who don’t understand the business side of filmmaking will continue to do whatever they think is right, regardless of the trends. And, if they do it really well, they will have huge success as a trend breaker, but if they fail, everyone will see them as a fool for not following the trends. So goes the world of entertainment.
Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers
Very insightful! Now I’m thinking of doing a patriotic film in the not so distant future. Thanks CJ!
Patriot films have stood the test of time at the box office. There was no surprise when Captain America succeeded. Good luck with your film.