Many aspiring screenwriters struggle to identify their audience. Their first port-of-call should be genre. Why they might ask? The answer is straight forward; If you know the genre the audience identify themselves, because genre is how the audience identify the film that they want to see.
“Let go see a comedy.” or “I feel like watching a good horror movie.” or “You always chose, it’s my turn and I want to see an action film tonight.” Sound familiar?
The customer is always right
In every manufacturing business the customer decides what product they want to buy, and film is no different. If a customer buys a dish washer, they don’t expect it to keep their food cold and fresh. If they buy a ticket to see a comedy they don’t expect to alternate between sitting on the edge of their seats and cowering behind their hands in fear as they watch blood and gore in larger than life images on the screen. Comedy equals laughs. Action equals fights, car chases and explosions. And a dishwasher should equal clean dishes not a cold plate.
By deduction then, genre equals expectations; and in the world of film & television, it is the screenwriter’s job to deliver to the audience the very best quality product that meets those expectations. And if you can do that, there is a good chance you will be able to sell your screenplay.
Sometimes the genre status of a film is complicated
A mixture of two genres can sometimes be popular; a Rom-com or an Action-Comedy are proven success stories, however the challenge that multi-genre films face when mixing unproven combinations is that instead of attracting fans from both genres, they may alienate fans from both genres, which will equal disastrous consequences at the box office. Screenplay genre is not the place to celebrate or experiment with the adage the more the merrier, so a combination of three or more genres is definitely not recommended, especially for aspiring writers. You don’t want to end up with a white metal box that keeps the dishes cold, washes the food and freezes your gym shoe.
Not only audiences, but producers like to buy genres
The good news, and believe me genre is good news, is that if you focus, and are selling a single easily recognisable genre like a Sci-fi screenplay, you are not competing with all the feature film screenplay writers out there, but only with the few that have also written stories in the Sci-fi category. This means that if you know your genre and your screenplay delivers the “genre experience” your odds of a sale just went up!