“I Wanted to Make a Movie My Kids Could See” and Other Things Fans Don’t Give a Damn About
When I was writing for Entertainment Weekly, I often found myself guilty of reusing generic questions for different interviews. What was it like to work with X? How did you pick project Y? Were there any pranks on set? PLEASE TELL ME THERE WERE PRANKS!
I wasn't the only one asking these oft-repeated questions. Plenty of other journalists do, as do EPK producers. I see short promotional videos all over YouTube that center around these same topics. But here's the thing everyone needs to accept: Readers don't give a damn about these questions or their answers.
In today's short-video-centric online world, every video needs a headline that tempts people to hear more. But many of the tired cliches that still show up as video subjects tempt people to flee. Sorry, not tempt: dare. So before you hold your next promotional shoot with talent, look at the list below and make sure these prompts aren't on your question card.
[ACTOR] Says That “[CITY _____ WHERE THEY SHOOT THE SHOW] Is Like the Show’s Third Character.”
This is one of those phrases that gets used in Hollywood pitch meetings but was senselessly released into the wild. Lock it back up! This anthropomorphizing notion means nothing to your wide audience — and, quite frankly, the location itself doesn't either. Unless your series shoots in some insanely exotic or weird setting, the only people interested in where you're filming are the people who live in that city and get a thrill from yelling at the screen, “Hey, I used to work around the corner from where that actress just parked her car!”
[ACTRESS] Talks About the Show's Theme
Save themes for term papers. No viewer ever says, "Ooooh, this show's theme sounds interesting! Season Pass it is!"
[ACTOR] Was Blown Away By the Script
Let me guess what happened next: He picked up the script, and was unable to put it down? And then went to his spouse and said, “I gotta do this”? This all may be true! But it is said so many times (about bad movies along with good) that it’s now a meaningless cliche. “Why’d you do the movie?”/”I loved the script” is the “How are you?”/”Fine, thanks” of promotional conversation.
“I Wanted to Do a Project My Kids Could Watch”
This is usually the quote of choice by actors known for adult dramas or violent fare who are now promoting their voice in an animated movie. While this is great for them and their family, it has no effect on making moviegoers want to see the project with their families.
I could go on! ("This show is like a 13-hour movie," "Our set has a no-asshole policy," etc.) Your social audience has to actively decide to watch your videos, and even one minute of a cliched topic is too long for them to spend.
Fortunately, Fixate comes up with plenty of fresh topics and questions that will result in more engaging, surprising, and contagiously enthusiastic videos. Email me and I'll find them for you. (The theme of this blog post is, "Help me help you!", but I wouldn't make a video about it.)
Thumbnail photo: Nicolas Liby, Creative Commons