As a screenwriter ever interested in the entreprenurial spirit of our industry, I must confess admiration for Tyler Perry. Though his work is critically panned, his legion of fans is amazing, and loyal to a fault. And the list of his successes, including Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Family Reunion, is all of a type — easy, family humor with a positive message.
Perry writes, directs, produces, and stars in comedies — often in the role of a cross-dressing matron — and he has turned his corner of the Atlanta film industry into a powerhouse of success. His secret?What I always claim is the most important aspect of any venture: Tyler knows his target market and caters to it unabashedly.
Much of the success of these films stems from Perry’s background in the church. Most of his projects begin as church plays. The bugs are worked out in front of and by the key demographic — church goers, primarily woman and families — who consistently show up at the cineplex, too.
Like the Marx Brothers, who took their stage plays on the road to test which jokes worked best before turning on the cameras, Perry has found a sweet spot both in his method and his target. And while he may not get the credit he deserves, his lesson for screenwriters and filmmakers is obvious: Know thy niche!
How few studios have a brand! When you say “Pixar,” you are saying 4-quadrant family films and know what to expect. But more and more the niche marketing is left to individuals who deliver a “Judd Apatow film” or a “Quentin Tarantino movie,” and may indicate a future where we are carving out smaller, targeted groups for our own films.
What’s your target market? Be it the art house, 4 quadrant family, date movie, prestige film, YouTube Generation short or global marketplace Indie, knowing who you are writing for, and loving them enough to cater to them, is more important than ever.
P.S. We had a GREAT Beats Weekend in Seattle, what a fantastic group of writers — and what amazingly well-targeted movies they have going — of all types! Looking forward to the October 11 weekend in Los Angeles, which is almost sold out. Please contact [email protected] if you’d like to attend!