Hooray for originality!


In both music and filmmaking there's a lot of 'conglomerate influence' leading to choices that are safe more than anything else. Unfortunately this also leads to these productions being bland, uninspiring or in the best cases somewhat disappointing. It gets worse when the budget gets squeezed and the production is "made on the cheap". Think corporate-video-dictated-by-the-clients'-managers, for the worst case scenario. But this also applies to major feature films or pop music productions as well. This is all fueled by fear: film- and musicprojects cost a lot of money to make, so "the suits" want to minimize the risks. Understandable, but also wrong in most cases. Lets investigate some evidence for originality:

Variety published this study on the top 20 films at the box office for the past decade. The main conclusion is that films based on original ideas are the big money-makers, especially when sequels are produced. Naturally, this doesn't just apply to Hollywood blockbusters or mainstream popstars. Often the smaller projects can profit even more from being original: the risk is usually smaller and the payoff can be huge. It can make you stand out in a crowd of "me-too" projects. It is possible that your target audience rejects your product, but on the other hand there's nothing to be gained by being bland as well: the possibility that someone will remember your product in the first place is pretty slim. So you at least increase the odds by being bold.

Now originality does not mean that you have to produce something completely new. Often (and specifically in business) it is a better idea to start with the familiar and then search for ways to make it original. "Looking for the second right answer" so to speak. There are many examples where choosing original (in this case: different) music for a scene makes all the difference. A classic example would be Miles Davis' improvised score to "Ascenseur pour l'echafaud" ("Lift to the scaffold") is central to the film's emotional effect. The same approach could work very well in a story based corporate video (although it probably would be best not to use such sad music..). So how are you going to tackle your next project? Do you dare to be original? Do your clients dare? Post your thoughts in the comments.

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