Where Story Meets “The Sex Factor”
Doug Richardson posted an interesting article on his blog this week called The Sex Factor. (If you haven’t read it, check it out, then come back here.) Now you may find it offensive, but he warns you of the content up front. I’m not condoning the behavior presented in the article, but I get it. And what the execs in the article are actually discussing is sales and marketing.
These are the decisions that fall on the business side of, well, this business. As writers (or actors) we aren’t always as tuned in to what this world entails. The fact that someone would use sex appeal as a decision-maker may not sound right (or be right), but it is a fact in a medium where people pay money to see attractive actors on the screen. Sex sells. It always has, it always will. But, it’s not the only thing that sells. And it’s not the only thing that goes into an executive’s decision-making.
Few of us have ever managed the multi-million dollar budgets or had our jobs on the line for the decisions we make with that amount of money. Just this week, Disney’s film chief, Rich Ross, resigned over the $200 million dollar loss on the John Carter film. The stakes are high when you are managing budgets and divisions in this realm.
What can we learn from Doug’s recounting in his post? Sales and marketability are key determining factors in the decision to buy, produce and hire in the film/TV industry. The judgements levied at actors over physical appeal may not be fair; but they exist, if for no other reason that when actors present themselves for casting, they are marketing their talent and their “physical presence” – in energy, looks, mannerisms, voice, and how they relate to other actors on screen.
Which brings us back to marketing. Emmy-award winning writer-producer Erik Bork posted on this topic today in Scriptmag in his article “Sending Queries to Literary Managers about a Screenplay.” This is well worth your time in reading. Erik reminds us that the industry is hungry – always has been and always will be – for marketable material.
Marketable material. That’s solid, saleable scripts and actors who can deliver and carry the weight and risk of hundreds of millions of dollars.
So I say before we all jump up and down in outrage at the “sex factor” – we might try to walk in the shoes of the executive responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of stockholders’ money.
And we should probably write well, too.