“Tramps” director Adam Leon once said something in an interview that I will never forget. While talking about his gritty debut film “Gimme the Loot,” about two young graffiti writers wanting to tag a New York City landmark, Leon said that his goal was making someone’s favorite movie of the year. That’s quite a novel idea that only interesting filmmakers could accomplish—to make something that speaks to a viewer so directly, it essentially fulfills what they need, what they've been yearning to see.
I like the idea of making someone's favorite something, even if that someone is only yourself (or maybe one other person).
However: I don't like it as an excuse to do something so insular that you all but guarantee you're the only person who could ever garner anything from it.
This particular formulation, though, feels like a way to hedge a bet against that. When you say "make someone's favorite movie of the year," and connect that to yearning and fulfillment, that implies an act of empathy on the part of the creator for the audience members.
Fans love to create things for other fans. A fanfic, a visual novel in the spirit of a beloved shared creation, and so on. There's a lot of that same feeling there, of making something that's a candidate for becoming someone else's favorite something.
There seem to be two keys to making this work. The first, as per my notes about fandom, is empathy. Fans know what turn each other on, and so are very good at lighting up those pathways in each others' minds.
Kurt Vonnegut once expressed an analogous idea: Pity the reader. Put yourself in the audience's shoes. Feel what they feel. That audience doesn't have to be a bunch of boobs with their fingers up their nostrils; you can pretend they're just as smart as you are (or as smart as you think you are, whatever). What matters is that you find a way to connect to them emotionally where they are, and then use that to take them new places.
The other key is something you've seen me come back to often: Use that empathy, that emotional connection, that understanding of what lights up a fellow fan's synapses, as the initial spark for the creation and not its culmination. Start there, but push beyond it. Bring in the things that only you can bring in. If you don't know what those things might be, take the trouble to find out.
Want to read something that might well become a favorite of yours? Check out my (new!) novel Welcome To The Fold, and showing your support for it by registering at Inkshares and adding the book to your "Follow" list! Failing that, you can always buy one of my existing books, available on Amazon Kindle and in dead-tree format.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind