Tuesday, November 17, 2009


"Pre-awareness" is the movie industry buzzword it's fashionable for writers to hate. It's the word that gives us endless sequels, remakes ("re-imaginings") and adaptations, and an apparent fear of original ideas.

There is an ordinary word that covers the concept: familiarity.

The movie industry (and to a lesser extent the TV industry) likes product that comes with a built-in audience. This is not really surprising, movies cost a lot to make and familiarity with the material means the audience is potentially bigger and the investors have a better chance of a return on their investment.

If you're expecting a rant against pre-awareness on this blog, you won't find it.

I can see it from the viewpoint of the money-men, they are in it to at least make a profit, and they want as much assurance as they can get before they part with their cash. (The fact that A-list actors plus A-list director plus a known product can still fail horribly is not the subject of this blog.)

The thing is that "pre-awareness" is not a new idea.

Shakespeare wrote plays that had pre-awareness - the fact that he wrote them very well is not the point. The Greek plays were all based on known stories - that's pre-awareness.

It's not a new thing.

At the Screenwriters festival I attended the seminars by Phil Parker. Phil's new emphasis is on "Dynamic Universes" which is his label for multi-platform, multi-creator settings.

Say what?

Instead of simply writing a screenplay, you create a setting in which you can have a movie (or many movies), TV series, web series, novels, online games, comic books - in fact anything you can think of. The more the merrier. It's a complete creation, and the idea is that you as the author/creator hold the intellectual rights to your creation and you never let go of them - you just let other people play in your world. (Or not, it's your choice.)

Does this have anything to do with pre-awareness?

I think so.

Right now the chances of anybody making my Monsters TV series are pretty slim. It's expensive and it's new - no pre-awareness.

However, we made a few scenes, and now I have found an illustrator to work on a comic book version (long time readers will know that I have found and lost two illustrators so far, but this one looks more solid). If I build up an online following based on a comic book then I'm building pre-awareness and increasing the probability it will get made.

And that's the sort of thing we, as writers, must consider.

Pre-awareness is not necessarily a bad thing - all you have to do is create it yourself, and the Web gives you that power. You just have to think big.

What are you waiting for?

What's on the turntable? "Demon Lover" by Steeleye Span from "Commoner's Crown"

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