You’ve got your story idea. You want to make it big. You hear the call of Hollywood. What’s next? As seen here at Fan To Pro, Hollywood might not be your first step. The vagaries of the business and the sheer competition just to be noticed can be off-putting. And, as can be seen in the line up of upcoming movies, Hollywood isn’t taking many chances on original work without a big name behind it.* There are other options, though.
Make it big elsewhere
Since the trend these days is in adaptations, reboots, and remakes**, you need to make it big somewhere else. Ideally, you’ve already had a hit that can be remade or rebooted, but that’s something very few people can really do, since both involve already being part of the Hollywood system. That leaves creating something that can be adapted. Write a best-selling book or create a popular game, video or otherwise. The skies the limit. About the only medium not adapted yet is the webcomic***, but it’s just a matter of time.
Ideally, you’ll have a strong plot, memorable characters, drama, comedy, and a heart-warming moral. Given some of the upcoming adaptations, like Battleship, they’re not needed. However, without a major toy company publishing your game for several generations, those elements help. There are other items to consider, though. For one, think about how the work could be adapted in the future. If a Hollywood studio were to release it as a PG-13 film, would your work suffer? Not all works have gone that route, but age ratings may play a part in getting noticed. For a movie, the ideal rating is PG-13, allowing younger viewers in while still keeping an older audience’s attention.
However, not all works become a movie. Some become television series, a longer format that allows for a more intricate plot and greater details. Going with the traditional broadcast networks still requires an eye to the age ratings; certain words aren’t allowed before the watershed and others just aren’t allowed at all. However, cable specialty channels aren’t as handcuffed. What can only be hinted at on a broadcast network can be shown cable. The need for Nielsen ratings isn’t as great, either. Cable channels look at subscriber numbers, and if a show brings in new subscribers just to see that show, the channel is happy.
Adapt somewhere else
However, the competition is still stiff and the gatekeepers’ decision making makes about as much sense as a cat with a Ouija board. Still, you want your work adapted. Look outside the US. Many countries have a thriving entertainment industry and are looking to fill time slots and tax deductions. Take a look at how other countries approach entertainment and give your work the needed slant. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has a lot of Canadian content, as expected. A story with a Canadian slant could get their interest.
As an added bonus, making it big elsewhere may get Hollywood interested. Many popular TV shows in the US were adapted from foreign works, including All in the Family (Til Death Do Us Part), The Office (The Office), and Three’s Company (Man About the House). Movies have also been imported and remade; for a while, Japanese horror movies were getting Hollywood remakes.
And, sometimes, even getting noticed is impossible, even with the ideal work. All is not lost. Comic books, video games, tabletop games, all of these media have adapted works, even between themselves.**** With such cross-adaptation, Hollywood may even notice.
Hopefully, this will help get a work adapted well by the Hollywood machine. Never hurts to try.
Next week, a surprise.
* Possibly not even then. George Lucas had to guarantee the distribution costs of Red Tails, the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, because no studio would even bite at the movie otherwise.
** Without this trend, there would be no Lost in Translation.
*** Technically, Order of the Stick has been adapted into a board game, but that’s outside Hollywood.
**** Oddest one could be the DC Comics adaptation of TSR’s Gammarauders board game.