The tubes are filled with voices grumbling over the success of Transformers 2, and the news that toys are now all the rage in turning brand into film. Candyland, Viewmaster, Monopoly, Lego…the list goes on. You can read more about this phenomenon at a couple of pro blogs here, here, and here.
Has Hollywood reached rock bottom? Is this the kind of intellectual narrative being driven by today’s filmmakers? Can it get any worse? Answer…of course it can. I just don’t think people are being cynical enough. Maybe it’s the Obama campaign wearing off, but I feel a cloud of optimism being lifted, and I’m all the more negative for having been hopeful. My wife, the marketing expert, tried explaining to me how in today’s something or other, platforms of communication have broken down into smaller platforms of something or other, and that it’s hard to break through the chatter and reach everybody with the uh, what-have-you…sorry, our dog was doing something funny while she was talking so I only caught bits and pieces. But basically, this means that new ideas are harder to sell because we haven’t been pre-programmed to evoke a Pavlovian Response like we do when we hear the words “G.I. Joe” or “Lego”. But how can it get any worse than this?
It all came to me in a dream last night. I was being force-fed ether while tied to a chair. A gremlin had removed the cap of my skull with a bone saw and was using needles to fiddle with sections of my brain. Memories like sparks flickered across my eyes, and during one of my most cherished flashbacks he leaned over and whispered into my ear, “We are in your music box.” I realized at that moment that our generation is essentially the greatest marketing database ever conceived, fed thousands of ideas over the course of our lives to be revisited to see which ones took root. Each toy, song, product, experience, news story, movie, and video game were simply seeds being thrown haphazardly across the soil, and now years later the devil has come to reap his harvest.
My question is, how do we cash in on that sweet cynical dollar? Answer: music properties. There’s nothing I’ve held with as much unconditional positive regard as the songs which have pulled me through the worst portions of my life. They are sacred lights whose power is instantaneous the moment the sound touches my ears. And sadly, it makes perfect sense. Surely music properties have large, dedicated followings and tapping the necessary emotional response would be as easy as playing the actual song over the trailer. And more importantly, whereas a Lego tells no tales, great songs have narratives. They already have themes, struggles, conflicts, and characters.
So this is the game. Think of a great song, one that has affected you the most, and trivialize it by turning it into a logline. If you can succeed in conveying the title of the song without actually naming it, you have a winner.
Logline: A traveler of time and space seeks wisdom from a group of mystic elders while making a perilous journey across the desert.
Did you guess Kashmir by Led Zeppelin?
And you can tap any generation, reach any demographic. It doesn’t have to be artistic. Old people still visit the cinema (when they aren’t screaming at their senator).
Logline: A young romantic searches for the would-be cupid who helped him fall in love.
Did you guess Who Put the Bomp? by Barry Mann? Probably not because you’re reading my blog and not drinking coffee at CoCo’s, but you get my point.
Logline: FRIDAY meets CIERNO DE BERGERAC when a raunchy urban prankster pursues his sexual exploits by inventing his own dance.
Humpty Dance by Digital Underground, anyone? And who wouldn’t pay to see a full-length Humpty movie? I’d buy that for a dollar.
Like the Humpty Dance, this game is real easy to do. Just search your life’s soundtrack. Was there a song playing on the radio when you had your first kiss? Something you danced to at your wedding? Maybe you were listening to a song on a set of headphones while lying on the beach on a perfect summer day, thinking to yourself how pure and wonderful and majestic life is and how at that moment there was magic in this world, a kind of essence to things which could never be fit into the margin or equated with words or numbers. Oooohhhh…use that one! That’s probably a good one to pick!
Remember, your soul is up for grabs and it’s a seller’s market. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.