If you ever wonder why concept is king in Hollywood, listen to someone tell you about a movie they just saw. (It helps if they liked it.) This is how word of mouth spreads, and word of mouth is, by far, the most valuable and least soul destroying means of advertising. Hollywood has gotten better at controlling, or at least directing, this word of mouth (as I’ve talked about before), but what makes it work is a simplicity in a story, or a hook, or something that makes it easy for someone to tell someone else what the movie is about.
Conversations like this happen all the time, and once in a while, I overhear one that really makes me think about how I’m telling my own stories because, once you’ve seen a film, it’s generally pretty easy to describe it whereas when it’s not a film yet, it isn’t that easy. But lets just take a couple recent films and see how the conversation might go.
CHARLIE: I saw The Hangover last night.
SUSAN: Oh yeah, what’s that? I haven’t heard of that.
CHARLIE: It was funny. It was about these guys who wake up after a bachelor party and the groom is missing and none of them remember anything.
SUSAN: Oh. That sounds good.
See how easy it was for Charlie to tell Susan what the movie was? He just pitched it, probably as well as the guys who made it. It works for more esoteric stuff too, especially once this door has been opened, because the conversation continues along the lines of…
CHARLIE: Yeah, there’s this scene it where this naked guy jumps out of a car.
SUSAN: That sounds kind of sophomoric to me. But I like that!
CHARLIE: Then you’d love this movie! It’s totally retarded!
SUSAN: My brother’s retarded.
CHARLIE: Oh, sorry.
SUSAN: Just kidding! I love saying the word retarded!
CHARLIE: Me too! Let’s go to Vegas and get married, just like that scene in the Hangover where the guy marries the hooker!
SUSAN: I am soo there!