"The desire to be free as an artist is one of the most suicidal notions you can have." - Robert McKee
But free from what exactly? Answer: Your audience.
Audience is everything, and if you're completely "free", you most likely are not making decisions with the audience in mind. The triangle (writer, subject, audience) is key in all writing because all three parts are intimately connected.
I am constantly amazed how often screenwriters fail to recognize that the primary goal of movie making is to entertain an audience. Sure, we have all kinds of film awards. But most movies are not made with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes), or The Writers Guild of America in mind. To be brutally honest, it doesn't even matter if you like your own movie as long as your audience does.
You must know your audience - plain and simple. This is the hardest part, and if you're out of sync with them, you're bad. Remember, the goal is not necessarily to make great movies. The goal is to make entertaining movies.
A "bad" B Horror movie, for example, is not coming home with any prizes. And the film itself is most likely not a "good" movie, but if it entertains it's targeted audience, it is a success.
A case in point: The 36th People's Choice Awards vs. The 82nd Academy Awards.
There were ten Academy Award nominees for Best Picture (Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Bastards, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air), yet none of them were People's Choice Award nominees for Favorite Movie (The Hangover, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Proposal, Star Trek, Twilight).
Now let's do the numbers: The Academy Award winner The Hurt Locker, with an estimated budget of $11 million, brought in $19.2 million worldwide box office gross. Profit: $8 million. Yet Twilight, The People's Choice Award winner, racked in $351 million at the box office off an estimated budget of $37 million. Profit: $314 million.
The Hurt Locker was the critically acclaimed award winner, but according to the audience, Twilight clearly wears the crown.
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