Without movie stars, it's getting increasingly hard for anyone and anything to break through.
I've been a writer in Hollywood for over a decade and I can tell you the one thing that's remained consistent throughout that time is that if you have a star attached to your project, it's going places. It may not always be made, but the more prominent the person, the more it will get where you need it to go.
But over the last decade, I've seen something else as well: I've seen the movie star virtually disappear.
Now an endangered species in Hollywood, movies stars have not adjusted to the changing times. Rather, the changing times have deforested their old habitat of Hollywood, leaving everyone trying to get their projects made flailing for the handful we have left.
If you're like me, you feel like you're breaking in. You're trying to find a way to work consistently in Hollywood. The formula that use to get our scripts into the right hands was having reps or tenacity to get it to an actor or actress that mattered in town. Maybe it also involved a directing piece but the ultimate goal was to get it to a star that could make it happen.
But those people are gone. There might be a handful of greenlight-able names now, but thanks to streaming, the pool has become diluted.
So how did we get here?
Let's take a look.
The Lack Of Movie Stars Is Making It Harder to Break In
The advent of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu has radically transformed the way audiences consume movies and TV. With a plethora of movies and TV shows available at their fingertips, viewers are no longer as reliant on traditional cinema releases for their entertainment fix.
As a result, Hollywood studios are being forced to adapt to this new paradigm, focusing less on star power and more on the "content" itself.
Franchises Over Actors
Franchises have become the bread and butter of the modern film industry, with blockbuster series like Marvel, Star Wars, and DC raking in billions at the box office. These franchise powerhouses are built on the strength of their established fan bases and interconnected narratives, rather than the star power of individual actors.
Consequently, the role of traditional movie stars has diminished as the focus has shifted to the larger cinematic universe. These universes make money over and over no matter who is in the roles.
That means, studios don't have to shell out a ton on actors unless their movies make money.
In the current entertainment climate, the focus has shifted from the movie stars themselves to the properties they're attached to. As Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at comScore, explains, "Merely having a movie star is no longer a guarantee of box office success. Now, big stars need a concept in concert with that star power to create excitement."
This change in consumer preferences has resulted in the rise of ensemble casts and the decline of traditional movie star vehicles.
What does this mean to the people trying to break in?
Negative Implications for Breaking Into the Industry
The shift away from movie stars places a greater emphasis on the quality of the storytelling itself.
Aspiring filmmakers looking to break into the industry must focus on developing compelling stories and strong characters that can capture the audience's attention, regardless of the star power attached.
This means honing one's craft, whether that's acting, writing, or directing, is more important than ever.
But it's also a catch-22 because it's hard to make any of this stuff without a star attached.
The only way around this is to make stuff at a price where it doesn't matter. Go super indie and cast people who might be on their way up. Go out to actors on TV shows who may not get movies or pick character actors who don't usually get to be leads.
Again, keep the budget low.
The Role of Social Media
In the absence of traditional movie star power, social media has become a valuable tool for generating interest and buzz around a project. Aspiring actors and filmmakers should embrace social media as a means of promoting their work and connecting with audiences. Building a strong online presence can help to create opportunities and open doors in the industry.
How can you promote your work to get the most amount of eyes on it? Be available on socials and create shareable clips and trailers and photos to try to get this story out there.
Filmmakers, get yourself out there, too! Creating a marketable presence can only help you.
In a world where star power is no longer the primary draw for audiences, it's essential to carve out a niche for yourself in the industry. Whether that's specializing in a particular genre or developing a unique creative voice, having a distinct identity can help you stand out amidst the crowded entertainment landscape.
As always, networking remains a crucial aspect of breaking into the film industry. Building connections with fellow actors, filmmakers, and industry professionals can open up opportunities and help you stay abreast of the latest trends and developments in the business. Attend industry events, join online forums, and engage with your peers to foster relationships that can aid your career.
The best way to break in now, in my opinion, is to build a large list of people you're close with who know your skills. Write specs and try to get it to your circle first. Network within that group. If each person introduces someone else to one person, your core network can grow pretty fast.
From there, it's going to take years. Like I said, I've been doing this for a decade and I feel like I'm still breaking in. I don't think that ever goes away unless you reach the upper echelons of this biz, and, honestly, most of us won't get there.
The industry can change, but great material does not. I'm not sure of the best way to get your stuff in front of people any more outside form having a network that reads you, loves your work, and helps.
Summing Up The Lack Of Movie Stars Is Going to Negatively Affect Your Big Break
It's never been more important to have a community in Hollywood.
The lack of movie stars in the modern film industry presents both challenges and opportunities for those looking to break into Hollywood. While the era of traditional movie stars may be fading, there is still plenty of room for talented individuals to make their mark on the silver screen.
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