Which Genres Interest Producers Right Now
Ah, the holidays. That special time of year when everything in Hollywood shuts down so producers can gather ‘round the Yule log with their families to handcraft the perfect ornament or to rant about the dearth of winter symbolism on Starbucks’ coffee cups. There’s no point writing or pitching during this time of year, right?
I get a lot of emails from writers around this time of year who think they Hollywood shuts down for the month of December and therefore so should they, and I find these emails excruciatingly perplexing. Production work does indeed grind to a halt during this time, but that’s due to the difficulty of scheduling production crews who are all trying to get time off to spend with the families they spent the previous year neglecting while working ludicrously long hours or recovering between gigs. So yes, cameras do indeed stop rolling for a while.
But anyone who saw InkTip’s Preferred Newsletter last week with the ten new leads from companies or producers seeking scripts knows that development doesn’t die down. In fact, if anything, producers and executives are more likely to catch up on their reading during this season’s downtime than during any other month-long chunk of the year.
So what are producers looking for right now?
As in right now, at this very moment?
I have no clue, but I can tell you what producers have searched for on InkTip *in the last six months or so, with a couple comments:
- All genres. If you read a similar article I posted about a year or so ago, this will already be old news to you, but we typically have a lot more producers looking for "a good script" than we have looking for "a good script in the ____ genre." Now this doesn’t mean that a producer who specializes in horrors will consider your romcom even if it’s really, really good. But most producers who specialize in any given genre will know producers in other areas who are constantly looking for the right script, and everyone loves – and wants to be a part of – that favorite old Hollywood story that starts with “I was working a dead-end job when so-and-so discovered me and referred me to…”
- Thrillers. One thing everyone can appreciate is a really tight, contained thriller script; if you can write a thriller that takes place in just two or three locations, with 90% of the story taking place in just one of those locations, you'll be able to get that script read by quite a lot of people. The key to pitching a thrilling thriller, by the way, lies in how you convey the stakes. Any other type of film pitch should focus on conflict, but a thriller pitch in particular should focus on the conflict between chasing down while simultaneously running away from a threat. Because that’s what makes a thriller thrilling; it’s not just about a protagonist catching a killer, it’s about protagonist catching a killer before getting killed. So if you have such a script, make sure you convey that in the logline.
- Horrors. Oddly enough, horrors didn't seem so popular two years ago, but they’ve been playing a game of leap frog with the thriller genre lately, and may very well take the lead in 2016. Which isn't terribly surprising, as horror constantly comes and goes. The thing to always remember with horror is that it's popular because it's cheap, which means if you're writing a horror script, it behooves you to keep it cheap. Try to set as much of the story as possible in a single, generic location.
- Drama. Surprise, surprise! Dramas beat out comedies yet again this year, but note that it's almost always the subgenres that matter with dramas. I never seem to get calls from producers looking for straight up dramas; they always want a specific subgenre, like character-driven family dramas or faith-based contemporary dramas or contained heist dramas…
- Comedy. Betcha didn't see this one coming, did you? I know, everyone says it's hard to sell a comedy overseas, and everyone's right about that. But comedy writers have a knack for something that a lot of other writers don't even comprehend: the element of surprise. Just as surprise is the secret ingredient that makes a punchline funny, it's also the part of the formula that makes plot twists believable.
So, producers are still reading and requesting scripts. Are you still writing and pitching them?
*Just always remember that, since the genre du jour is constantly changing, it's more important to write what you like than it is to write what's hot. In other words, this isn’t a list of what to write right now.
Go here to list your scripts!
Jared Wynn has conducted thousands of interviews with producers, agents and managers about what they're looking for in a script or writer, and he knows a lot about how to successfully market a screenplay.