Tuesday, 15 February 2011
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|Murder: Fascinated and Revolted|
Last week I tried to say something about the very basics of content that sells.
You have something they want and they cannot do it themselves.
But this is entertainment. What people want is mysterious and highly personal. How can you generalize?
That’s what we try to do.
Last week I suggested that one of the things that excite people is a place where they would like to be.
One of the reasons US content is so popular – but only one – is because it has been, for the last century, a country where enterprising people could go and live, a destination of choice, a place you could dream about.
In the process it became a familiar place – which is another condition for content that travels. There needs to be some element of familiarity.
So if your location is not a familiar one, you will need to figure how to make it both familiar and interesting. For Familiarity and Novelty are both essential. Relevance is important, too. People will be interested in a location that is cool, fashionable, leading edge in some way, a place they would want to visit or a way of life they might like to be part of….
In addition, you need, in the main, to show people whom the audiences can look up to, characters who are smart, or good looking or brave or enterprising and who show it in the things they do or say. As I have said in a previous post, evolution has provided us with a need for behaviour models. It’s how we learn what to do, how to behave.
There are other things that matter deeply, so much so that you can revisit them again and again and again, concerns that come from deep in our evolutionary past. For example, we are obsessed with murder. Perhaps that is because humans only survived by living in groups that held together because the punished murder –, most of us have a deep revulsion for murder and a deep desire to see the murder caught and punished.
But that deep code of instinctive justice also drives the desire for revenge – which often comes into play when a justice system breaks down. These instinct sometimes fight one another create conflicts which interest us greatly.
By the same token we are endlessly interested in sex and love. Biologists would say that that our role is to carry genes forward into the next generation so we ha e an instinctive interest in everything to do with reproduction, finding the best mate, etc..
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
|Stieg Larsson: speaking as a European...|
If you are going to be an exporter of content, you need to know what other countries are looking for.
It’s quite simple really: they are looking for what they cannot do themselves. Nearly everyone prefers content from their own country, in their own language. We are all locked into our private worlds, languages and cultures.
Let us take some examples. Drama is expensive – something many countries can only afford in small quantities. Some countries produce only low-budget soaps – so they may provide a market for good-quality mid-evening series. Even countries which can afford some primetime drama will have be gaps in the schedule.
Because of the preference for own-language work, format licensing has been a huge success. The key elements of the production are locked into a format bible, which is, in essence, a do-it-yourself manual for the production of a hit show.
And some factual content is of generic interest, natural history being the most obvious example. I won’t be saying much about news here, but news footage falls into that category too.
There are also a while number of practical considerations that go beyond price. Content must accommodate a country’s viewing patterns and scheduling habits.
These are some of the questions that need answers before assessing the potential demand in a given market. This can all be done with a careful look at a given country’s media structures and outputs. I will be saying more about how to assess a given market in later posts.
However there are many intangibles, which are more interesting because they are seldom discussed in a commercial context.
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
|What is Culture?|
My first blogs of 2011 will be about how to create a successful national media strategy. You will be able to apply them anywhere.
A national media strategy is about how a government can help its media industries to flourish, that is perform somewhere near their potential.
I put most emphasis on the global or international dimension, and start with the core elements of a media strategy, that is, the elements of human behaviour which media content addresses.
Nearly everyone else discussing media strategy simply skips this phase and concentrates in incentives or financial tools. We may well end up there, but this first stage is essential. You can't have a media strategy without a framing theory of culture and and the human need for culture.
This series of postings will end with diagnostic questions, designed to identify the position you start from and what strategic options are open to your particular media industry. You will then be able to assess where you think your industry can best add value.
If you were a food manufacturer or a nation that relied heavily on food exports, you would accept the need to be up to speed with the best knowledge: new scientific research on cultivation, new technology, the nutritional value of your foods, changing demand around the world. You might also want to define and promote a brand – like Belgium is famous for chocolates.
Ultimately, as a food exporting nation, you are addressing a universal need: humans have to eat. Hunger – and the pleasure we get from food – are two of the ways nature has found to make us pay attention to that need.
|The Cultural Paradigm|
"Culture" is often misused to mean "Arts".
A few weeks back, I gave you a current view from the two scientists on the root instinct that drives human culture: an instinct to copy others. (The authors of this work explain it as “fast and frugal learning”: the way you pick up the basic rules of life).