How to make art people like…
Goldilocks knew what she wanted.
Porridge can be too hot for some people. Or too cold.
But Goldilocks did something many customers don’t. She tried more. The bowls she tried at first simply weren’t made for her. And she knew it.
So she tried a few before she found the one she liked — a generous art-goer.
But what if your viewer won’t try three things before they get to the one that is ‘just right’? What if you aren’t selling the antidote to hunger?
What if you’re selling art?
Millions of dollars get put on the line in a bet every time a movie is made. No one knows for sure if they’re making a hit, but they try anyways. Most times they guess or try to analyze numbers, but other times it’s a feeling. A feeling of the script, the focus groups, the producers, the actors.
So how can we make good art consistently without spending millions trying to find the perfect one?
Go for the edges.
The Black List is a list of movie scripts that didn’t get made this year, but were special favourites from some of the biggest (and smallest) producers, filmmakers and studio executives in Hollywood.
The thing is, many of those selected for the Black List go on to become major hits the following year. Why?
Because they don’t focus on average.
Average is a ‘meh’ movie. A movie that people might see, but only if they download for free. Or only if it’s cheap Tuesday. Or only if there’s nothing else showing and nothing on TV, the radio that night.
Average art is for no one.
The Black List, run by a math major turned film buff, decided to focus on distribution. After polling people on a particular movie or script, they would look at the curve of interest on a scale.
Normal distribution is the kiss of death. It isn’t remarkable. It’s a lukewarm bath on a lukewarm day with a basic glass of water.
The Black List knows what’s interesting. They know what people hated and some people liked. They know what everyone liked — which is rare but believable.
Good art comes from people having disagreements, having opinions, having anything!
If good art is something you aspire to (why else do it?), make it for your Goldilocks.
The one that has an edge, that’ll seek you out, that’ll try a hundred flavours until they land on yours.